It’s no secret that I’m an introvert. It’s not that I don’t like people. I love people. I love connecting with people, investing in people, and spending time with people. What sets introverts like myself apart from extroverts is that for introverts, social interaction depletes energy, whereas extroverts are energized by social interaction. Both of these are perfectly normal, and each has its pros and its cons. One of the side effects of being an introvert, however, is a feeling of exhaustion and a need for rest after what I call a “social overload.” This is where solitude comes in.
I cherish solitude. It’s my way of recuperating after a long day of lectures, work, and usually a great deal of social interaction. When I get home and have some time to myself, I’m able to relax and reflect on the day I’ve just had. It’s great. As much as I love being around people, doing the Lord’s work, and learning as much as I can in the classroom, I do very much look forward to coming home and enjoying some solitude.
As I said before, it’s not that I don’t like people. I love people, and I love spending time with people. But spending time with people does take a lot of energy out of me, and I need some time alone to get that energy back. Since moving to Waco, I’ve been thinking a lot about solitude, its benefits, and its risks. If you’re an introvert like me (or if you’re interested in knowing how introverts like me think), here are a few of the things I’ve learned about solitude.
It’s OK to need some alone time.
Some people assume that introverts are “anti-social” or “loaners” because they often need time for themselves. This is a misconception. Introverts who make time for solitude are just finding healthy ways to take care of themselves. There’s nothing wrong with wanting some time alone. You’re not grumpy or a loaner or selfish for saying from time to time, “OK, I need some time alone.” It’s actually a good thing, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed about that.
Some people don’t get it.
On the other hand, some people do not place as much emphasis on solitude as others. Extroverts may see alone time as uncomfortable or unnecessary. They may not understand why someone like me needs some time to themselves every once in a while, and it may be misinterpreted. Again, there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert or an extrovert. Both are natural and normal. But both groups need to take some time to understand the other’s needs in order to avoid misconceptions and hurt feelings. Learning to articulate why you need solitude and that it isn’t an indication of anything negative is important.
Don’t fall into the trap of self-isolation.
Solitude is good. Isolation is bad. And personally, I’m constantly tempted to fall into self-isolation. I cherish solitude so much that I can take it to the extreme and end up going long periods of time without any real human connection. This leaves me feeling empty and sad, not rested and whole as solitude should. While solitude is important, so is connecting with other people. There is a balance between the two, and that has to be kept in mind, or you may find yourself isolated.
That’s what I have to say about solitude for now. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and there may be more to say later. I hope this blog post has been helpful or at least interesting to you. I know it’s been a good exercise for me to reflect on something that I put so much emphasis on. I hope you guys are having a great week. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you next time!