The power of solitude
Humans are social beings. It's been proven time and time again that we are hardwired for connection. And yet I think there is an inherent power in being alone.
Now I don't necessarily mean out in the wilderness without a living soul in sight (although that is nice too), I mean the solitude of stepping out of all the roles you play (leader, wife, entrepreneur, father) and stepping away from all responsibilities, to make space entirely for you.
I find it hard to do this when I'm surrounded by those who know me in my different roles, therefore solitude to me is time spent by myself, doing what I want to do, when I want to do it. Time spent with me, myself and I.
I first realised the magic of solitude when I travelled solo to Japan during the second year of my undergraduate degree. I had the skeleton of a plan, enough money to fund myself, a sturdy backpack and a JR rail pass. Walking around Tokyo that first day, I realised I didn't have a watch and not wanting to incur expensive roaming fees, I hadn't even turned my phone on. How will I know if it's time for lunch, I wondered. Simple, my body told me, eat when you're hungry. I was beholden to no-one and nothing, no schedule, no set meal times, no way of telling the time and that realisation was such a freeing experience. For the rest of the trip, I ate when I wanted to, travelled where I wished, and bought the souvenirs I wanted to buy.
Towards the end of my trip (it was 4 weeks) I began to feel lonely. I was tired of making decisions by myself, but more importantly, I wanted someone to share these experiences with. I wanted to go home. I understood firsthand that while solitude can be freeing, as human beings we also need connection and to be surrounded by loved ones.
So fair warning, solitude is only ever meant to be enjoyed in small doses. But when you feel as though overwhelm is threatening to take over, taking some space for yourself might be the answer. Solitude gives us a moment to breathe. To reflect. To be with oneself. And to detangle ourselves from the clutter that exists in life and reset.
What does solitude look like for you? How and what do you do to recharge?