I Like Spending Time Alone, Don’t You?

If you’re the parent of a teenager, I’m sure you’ve noticed that you don’t see your child 24/7 like you did when he/she was in their pre-teens. And it’s not always because they’re out at the movies with friends or at a party, but because they spend a lot more of their time alone. But time alone shouldn’t be confused with loneliness. It’s completely possible to sit alone in an empty room and not feel lonely.

And we all know it, we love our privacy and during the adolescent years we require a great deal of it. It isn’t just normal, but rather necessary I’d say.

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Child psychologist Dr Peter Marshall explains that “privacy is important for teens partly because they need to separate. It’s tempting to think that they’re just goofing off, but they spend a large part of their time just thinking about things, trying to figure out who they are, who they want to become. There’s a lot of work for them to do, and they need some space to do it.”

Research psychologist, Dr Peggy Drexler, explains in her blog post, ‘Why Alone Time Is So Important for Boys And Girls,’ that the need for children to spend more time alone is “a crucial aspect of the development of independence” and that “children who know how to fill their time alone rarely feel isolated or lonely. Instead, they learn to be content with whatever situation is at hand and truly have fun being creative in the moment.”

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Both Peggy and Peter explain the benefits of spending time alone as a teenager. For me, it is my time to reflect and think for myself. I am a strong believer that you constantly discover yourself, you never really precisely know who you truly are. And your teen age is the perfect time, rather the crucial time, to discover yourself the best you can and find your authentic self.

It’s like what Oscar Wilde once said,

“I am the only person in the world I should like to know thoroughly.”

And my alone time is my attempt at it. You should try it too!

So how does alone time really help in your development, happiness, and creativity? Here are 6 things I’ve found to be true:

    1. It’s fun: we often underestimate how fun it can be to partake in activities alone. Whether it’s going to the movies, pumping iron at the gym, or even just grooving to your favourite playlist.

      “Well, I hope the neighbours like the sound of my voice.” ~Me, home alone

      The not-so-fun element kicks in when you worry too much about how others perceive your time behind closed doors and if they think you simply have no one to hang out with. To that I say, ain’t nobody got time to be thinking too much about what you’re doing. How much can the nay-sayers care really?


    2. Productivity fuel: time spent alone can act as a fuel to your productivity. Last semester in Organisational Behaviour I learned about ‘social loafing’. According to my textbook (that I never read), it is “the problem that occurs when people exert less effort when working in teams than when working alone.”

      “Maybe homework isn’t that bad after all.” ~Nobody ever

    3. Drain the brain: there’s so many things going around in your teen age and your brain is constantly bombarded with information from all directions. To keep it from overheating (and potentially exploding, like in Courage The Cowardly Dog), your brain needs its rest to recharge and function healthily. A zero distraction environment gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus and think more clearly. Think of it as a spa for your brain.

      “Privacy is not a rejection of those you love; it is your deserved respite for recharging your batteries.” ~Wayne Dyer

    4. Do what you love: this is perhaps the main reason I love spending time alone. I get to do stuff that I enjoy. The other day I went for a walk in the city at six in the morning for four hours with nothing but a backpack of cameras. Yesterday I was in the local library and browsed through all the books (well, just the front covers but you get what I mean). And like I’ve said on my last Instagram post, I’ve also been trying to solve the Rubik’s cube under the 5 minute mark. (Try doing all that with your friends around)


      There are things that you may love doing that doesn’t always have to appeal to your friends. Doing what you love in solitude eliminates that contingency.

    5. Introvert Galore: solo time is a defining aspect for introverts. To put it in perspective, blogger Kate Bartolotta uses an insightful analogy to explain: “Think of each of us as having a cup of energy available. For introverts, most social interactions take a little out of that cup instead of filling it the way it does for extroverts. Most of us like it. We’re happy to give, and love to see you. When the cup is empty though, we need some time to refuel.”

    6. “Solitude sometimes is best society.” ~John Milton

    7. Creativity at it’s finest: nurturing creativity can be complicated but it can start with one important principle- to step away from society. Thinking for yourself is a great way to make your creative passions a priority. A group brainstorming session isn’t always the best way to unleash creative potentials because it focuses on the quantity of ideas. Quality comes later. But letting your thoughts wonder in solitude helps find fresh perspectives and come up with ideas that are robust in practicality and quality.

      “Art starts alone – and convinces society later.” ~Douglas Davis



    Recap:

    • Parents, it’s okay if your child spends a lot of their time alone in their room. We need it.
    • Know that you need it and embrace it.
    • Be content and comfortable with being alone.
    • Develop independence, chase your passions, be creative and chill your mind.



    So don’t be afraid of spending time alone in your little man cove. I do it a lot. It’s my way of focusing on my self-development. I’m not advocating to cut ties with the outside world. That is unhealthy and unwise. Learn to like being alone. Once you’ve embraced that, there is nothing more freeing and empowering than to be happy in your own company.

    I know I do, because that’s what it is like Being Naseem.

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