On Being Alone

I read an article in The Guardian today (I can’t find it at the moment, so I can’t link to it) about solitude and the rush to judge those who enjoy being alone. The comments proved her thesis, with lots of people weighing in on how solitary people are narcissists who are running away from the real world. Strange. It’s puzzling that self-reliance is seen to be so threatening.

I don’t think I’m an antisocial narcissist who can’t cope with other people. I like a good chat with a friend as much as anyone. I enjoy the other mums I see at Petra’s school. I like hanging out with my family. And of course, I exist in a web of interconnection – people produce the books I read and the food I eat. I have neighbours, and people I see regularly in the library and the local stores. I have, and Petra has appointments with hairdressers and doctors and dentists and Travis’s work provides a cleaner who visits us twice a week. There are people all over the place.

But I have always enjoyed my own company. I lived alone for a while and once I got used to it, I liked it immensely. My favourite activities – reading, writing, walking – are essentially solitary activities. And at the moment, I fantasize about being alone, about sleeping alone in my own room, about lounging around reading with no one to interrupt me. Living with a family can feel awfully crowded for the introverts among us.

The trick is to manage so that you get both private time when you need it and companionship when you want that. Balance is the thing.

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