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Let’s Normalize Alone Time

Cover Photo by Simon Migaj via Unsplash

Whether you have rejoined the classroom or the workplace virtually or physically over these last few weeks, I’m willing to make a guess about how you feel — exhausted.

Regardless of the myriad ways in which our experiences look very different now than they did in the beginning of March, numerous communities are moving full speed ahead with their operations. Your days may have quickly become filled with countless Zoom meetings or sanitized lecture halls. Chances are that your social skills (and limits) have been put to the test.

How are you feeling? Are you desperately craving some alone time? 

For many of us, the prospect of emerging from months of isolation has long stood as a grand and monumental symbol. It has been the light at the end of the tunnel. The lustrous needle in the haystack. The awe-inspiring rose in a bush full of thorns. Throughout the spring and summer, socialization slowly morphed into a reward for what could happen if distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-washing all became the norm. However, as many people began to fall ever more enamored with the idea of reuniting with friends or striking up conversations with strangers in the grocery store, others grew to appreciate the small joys of seclusion. For these folks, the transition back into a world of constant social stimulation and rare time alone can, to say the least, be arduous. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this return to “normalcy,” you are not alone. Others may expect that you’ll be down to hang (following COVID-19 safety precautions, of course) at any point, yet it is important to realize that you’ve probably changed over the past few months. Maybe you’re more aware now of what you need and what your body needs, which might mean sleeping more or eating more. For a lot of us, though, this could simply mean spending more time on our own. 

Sure, spending time with friends and family can be joyful and cleansing. It can remind us of the things we love about our communities, of bright moments in our pasts, and of our projects for the future. If you’re the social butterfly who can handle this type of interaction 24/7, that’s great. If you can easily feel yourself sinking into “social fatigue” after periods of fraternization, that’s also great. Neither personality is superior to the other, and a range of identities fill the gap between the two. 

No one should feel guilty about spending some quality alone time. No one should feel as if they’re letting others down when they choose to forgo an excursion with loved ones for some quiet time at home, at a favorite coffee shop, or in nature. Recognizing when you need a moment (or even a couple of days) away is not a sign of being “antisocial” or “uninterested.”  Rather, it shows an attention to self-care and conscientiousness that should be a major goal for each and every one of us.

We are the stewards of our own bodies and our own lives. Passing some time away from the bustle of our communities is a crucial piece of fulfilling this responsibility. (If alone time isn’t doing the trick, please don’t wait to ask for help. Reach out to someone at a moment’s notice through a hotline or consider getting in touch with a healthcare provider.)

Let’s normalize alone time. Whether you’re a college kid living in a house with five roommates or a working parent balancing family and career, let’s work together to stop painting the people who need this time alone as rude or apathetic. It’s bound to take different forms in every case, but we’re really all just doing our best, aren’t we?

Cover Photo by Simon Migaj via Unsplash

  • How do you feel about alone time?

    • I love it!
    • I’d rather be around people all day

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Written by Megan Pontin

Enthusiastic word-collector, avid pancake-consumer, and experienced hammock-lounger. Student at Cornell University.

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