This past week I spent some time alone. After shuffling the kids off to their respective sports camps, I spent a couple of the mornings this week alone and, I must say, enjoying my own company.
There were a million and one things I could have done, immersing myself each day in the company of others to pass the time until pick up for camp; however, for the most part, I chose to spend the time alone.
It’s a rare occurrence for me to spend more than an hour or so completely alone and I will admit that at the beginning of the week it felt rather strange. I didn’t have to speak to anyone if I didn’t want to. I didn’t have to confer with anyone as to what to do, or convince anyone that it wouldn’t be “boring” to do that or to go there (my six year old’s newest and most favourite lamentation). I caught myself panicking and checking my phone several times as if I was in the wrong place or doing something I shouldn’t be doing, but after an initial adjustment period, I looked forward to and enjoyed the time alone.
I enjoyed the time alone because it gave me the opportunity to completely be myself. I didn’t have to patient. I didn’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing. I didn’t have to do what anyone else wanted. I only had to be myself and do what I felt like doing when I felt like doing it. It was very liberating to only have to look after myself for a bit.
Now, that is not to say that I don’t love my family or my friends, but there is just something really nice and really peaceful about being alone, when you choose to be especially. In my profession, I am continuously surrounded by at least 20 people at any given moment, and even when I am on prep or break/lunch, I can, at a moment’s notice, be at anyone’s beck and call. At home, I can sneak away to my back deck with my laptop or a book for a few moments, but that is usually short lived as well as I’m often “needed” to do or help with something, or referee a disagreement between siblings. Even writing a weekly blog post can prove to require some careful planning to find quiet time to think and write.
I think I enjoy time alone because I get so very little of it. As I have mentioned before, I am not good at carving out time for myself or taking “me time” as I know I should. Some nights I will admit to being a bit of a “rebel”, (well, rebel in my own terms anyway), and staying up late having quiet time while the rest of the house sleeps. It’s peaceful and quiet, but I pay the price the next morning when I have to get up and I’m still tired. If I am up very early in the morning, there is quiet time to be found there too, but it is limited.
I realize, however, that there are many people who are alone when they choose not to be and lonely because of it. I, too, have felt lonely even when surrounded by people so I can understand the feeling. Sometimes we may feel like we are alone, even if we are not, simply because we have the feeling that we are not understood, not appreciated, and maybe even not cared about.
Spending time alone this week offered me the opportunity to pay attention to people around me as well. I noticed, while shopping, that many people were alone, but very friendly. Maybe I struck it lucky, as I don’t always have the most pleasantness experiences with the general public (haha). I made it a point to smile and say hello to anyone who would meet my eyes and the reception was always warm in return. A few people even stopped to chat, small-talk really, but I could tell that for some it could be a bright point of their day. I realized once again how important it is to be kind to everyone we meet, even on those off days (for us or for them). Even when others maybe aren’t so friendly, or don’t seem to be so kind, it is important for us to be as pleasant as we can anyway, even if we really feel like returning their unfriendliness or unkindness in turn. I also realized that maybe, for some, the reason for their own unpleasantness could be that they are just lonely.
I was reminded this week, once again, that we are all on this earth together. We all live in communities and in societies where our common goal should be to help one another. It’s important to spend time alone when we feel we need to and that time alone can certainly prove to be refreshing and uplifting. Equally important though is to spend time being around and interacting with others, especially those we enjoy being around (how I spent my other mornings and afternoons this week actually). It’s important to appreciate both sides so that we can freely make the choice of being alone, but not lonely.