The Importance of Alone Time

Sometimes I get nervous thinking about just how much alone time I require.

I need a lot of time to reflect, meditate and relax, more than anyone I know.

IMG_4888I’ve recently moved back to Queen Anne, my original Seattle neighborhood. I’m living 1 block away from the apartment I first moved into before real paychecks, before cats, before boyfriends. At that point in my life, I spent all my time absolutely alone. I walked to work alone, I sat mostly alone at work, I went home and cooked alone and watched TV alone, sat in parks alone and explored new places alone.

Some of my memories in that apartment are the most vivid of my entire life. Because I was alone, I was forced to be more aware, to be more present, to take in every detail. I sometimes envy those days of quiet, the girl who could do whatever she wanted whenever she wanted.

My most vivid memory is actually a bad one really. It was a day in January or February and I decided I wanted to go on a run. (I NEVER run). As I was running, it began to hail. And then it began to snow. My lungs were on fire and my legs felt like jelly, and I had to stop, I was in so much pain and so mad at the crazy weather. When I did, I realized just how quiet it was. No one was around me and my hoarse breathing was the loudest sound for blocks. I realized I had never felt so alone. I could’ve been the only person in the world at that moment.

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Though I miss those quiet days of my past, I also have to remember just how lonely I was. So lonely that I picked up two cats to add to the mix. That I called my best friend and my mom every. single. day. That sometimes I’d sit in coffee shops, reading or writing, just hoping someone would speak to me. I also have to remember that during these lonely times, just after the snow running day, I decided to try online dating. Though my life was the most calm it has ever been, I was alone and I didn’t like being alone.

As much as I love the people in my life, I don’t want to be around them all the time. In fact, I resent spending a lot of time with someone. In this way, my solitude seems selfish. I wouldn’t disagree that it is. But I also know that being alone and wanting alone time isn’t all that uncommon.

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In 2013:

-19% of households consisted of a married couple with kids

-27% of the American population lived alone

-105 million people 18 and older had never been married

As I entered my first relationship, my overwhelming love for another person made me want to spend as much time as possible with that person. He wanted the same thing. For months, we spent almost every waking moment together. I’m not even kidding. It was unhealthy, and we both kind of knew it, but we didn’t want to hurt the other person and we weren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves anyway. We slowly made time for ourselves, and for other people, but it was a painful process and a tough lesson to learn.

It will always be a balance for me, and I may never be able to manage a sweet spot for very long, but I’m always searching for that perfect balance. I know my alone time hurts other people, and it puts large gaps between friend-dates, but I think at the end of the day, they can understand. I love my alone time, but I also need my friend and family and love time in there too!

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