As empowering as self-reliance and independence might be, there’s no ignoring the social stigma attached to flying solo.There are a million assumptions chasing those who choose to be alone, whether romantically, fraternally or otherwise. Terms like “antisocial” and “maladjusted” recklessly fly.
Turns out, however, these assessments are far from the truth. Recent studies show that people gain just as much genuine enjoyment from partaking in recreational activities alone as they do when they’re with others. The negative impact stems from “loners” experiencing social guilt - e.g. assumptions about being unlikable.
The truth is that self-sufficiency is an incredibly vital skill - and in some cases a luxury. What’s more, the value we place in others ought to begin with an awareness of the intrinsic value we possess internally. And while we must treasure those who supportively surround us - friends, family, colleagues - we all meet life’s greatest challenges and tests alone. And there is strength to be found in this.
Think about it this way: The more time spent alone, the greater the opportunity to learn about oneself and thusly to become all the more comfortable in your own skin. After all, self-realization is the combined result of patience and self-acceptance.
Now the real question is what do you stand to gain from a little alone time?
Restart and Unwind
Constant social activity, while stimulating, keeps the brain and body from having much opportunity for rest. Being alone with no distractions allows you to calmly clear your head which results in clearer thinking. It also lets you to physically slow down and rejuvenate. It’s the perfect opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time.
Focus and Productivity
Solitude helps to improve the mind’s capacity for prioritization and processing. When you minimize distractions and interruptions, you’re able to concentrate on the present and not only doing but also thoroughly completing tasks at hand.
Group engagement naturally leads to a certain amount of collaborative compromise. This finds root in our evolutionary tribal mentality - what’s best for the group more likely guarantees survival. Luckily we no longer live in caves or have to defend ourselves from wild animals. Spending some time away from the crowd is a great way for you to get in touch with your own thoughts apart from external influence. Your actions may remain genuine to the core.
While enjoying life as part of cooperative group is a part of who we are as humans - we’re born into families and seek out those with similar values - there are a range of incredibly beneficial experiences awaiting us when we choose to do them alone. Cheryl Strayed, the iconic central figure of the autobiographical book and film Wild, is a perfect example of this very fact. She hiked the entire Pacific Coast Trail on her own and documented her journey through writing. When she completed the self-imposed journey, she called herself changed for the better.
Now not all of us have the ability or opportunity to take an eleven-hundred mile long solo hike through the wilderness. But every little bit counts. Try having a meal or going to a movie solo. Explore an area neighboring your home or work where you’ve never been. Just try it. You may learn something you never expect.