The Importance of Alone Time

The Importance of Alone Time

Alone is not a dirty word. Alone is empowering.
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I love being alone. I love spending time by myself, allowing me the freedom of doing things on my own terms. As I write this, I sit in a coffee shop with my computer, earbuds in to give off the "please don't approach me" vibe. I don't dislike people by any means-- I value the time I spend with my loved ones. But there's just something special about being by myself that I hold really dear. Being alone, while kind of a drag at times, is very important to my sense of self.

I've always been sort of a loner. As a kid, I would get overwhelmed if I was in a big group for too long and would lock myself in my bedroom upon getting home. I needed to be away from people for a while or I would surely explode. As I got older, I lost the ability to be alone due to all of my commitments. During my time at a local community college, I was constantly surrounded by people. Between my daily classes, lunches with friends, study groups, rehearsals and family time, I was exhausted. I kept wondering why I was so irritable and overwhelmed all the time. There came a time toward the end of my second semester of college where I was so overwhelmed that I went straight home from school instead of out with my sister or friends as I usually did and locked myself in my room. I slept, read and watched Netflix. The next day, I felt far more relaxed. I wondered if the time spent by myself could have anything to do with my renewed energy, so I decided to do an experiment. I spent the next several nights at home alone and was amazed at how much better I felt. My anxiety was lessened and I was better able to articulate my needs to my family and friends.

I would eventually learn that this need for solitude is called being an introvert-- my energy comes from alone time, and being around people tends to wear me out. Many people use the terms "introvert" and "loner" synonymously, incorrectly thinking that introverts just hate people or don't fit in. This is not true. People who are introverted simply need time away to recharge. I think that nearly everyone can benefit from some quality time by themselves-- including extroverts!

I have gotten flack from friends and family for spending so much time by myself. My sister would call me on her lunch break at work and ask what I was doing. I would tell her that I was out shopping or in a coffee shop and she would immediately ask who I was with. She was baffled upon hearing that I was there by myself! "Why are you alone?" is a question I got from her and other friends frequently. The word "alone" has become a dirty word in our people-centered society: being alone in public is embarrassing to some people. I don't see it that way. I see the choice to be alone as something powerful.

Being able to be alone is important to me, and I have grown a lot since I began to take myself places. I've learned to be less rigid about sticking to a plan-- several times, I have quickly turned off of the road while driving to stop at a place I hadn't seen before. I spent time in nature and made the decision as to when I wanted to leave and go home. I was more independent than I had ever been. This not only improved my time spent by myself but made it easier for me to make decisions and articulate what I want while spending time with other people. I am more confident in my choices and more willing to try new things. Overall, I am a more relaxed person now that I have learned how to be alone.

I value my loved ones very much. I spend time with my family and go out with my friends when I can. But being alone has proven to be a healthy thing for me to do, and it could benefit you too. Next time you feel overwhelmed or irritated at others, take some time to yourself. Go to that new little bistro you've been wanting to try. Walk around a store by yourself. Go on a drive or a hike. Do something you love to clear your head. You are the most reliable and readily available person to yourself. You can hear yourself much better when there are fewer people around.

Cover Image Credit: Ali Kaukas

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65 Truths College Students Need to Hear Right Now

Truth every college student needs to hear.
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1. The best memories are ones you actually can remember.

2. God isn’t going to ask you if you were in a top-tier sorority or fraternity at the gates.

3. You failed a test, not your life.

4. Numbers don’t define you.

5. That includes the number you see that is your grade.

6. Also, how much you weigh.

7. As well as if you are a “7/10” on a so-called “hot scale.”

8. Or if you can bench press 200 lbs. (@ all the guys at the gym, please chill.)

SEE ALSO: 7 Reminders Every College Student Needs To Hear Before The Semester Ends

9. Innocence is nothing to be ashamed of.

10. Neither are mistakes.

11. But learn from your mistakes. Mistakes can be lessons, which can be the biggest blessing.

12. Your metabolism isn’t what it used to be and that is okay.

13. You may not always understand what God is doing, but I promise He has a plan.

14. Every person you meet is battling their own struggles.

15. Life isn’t always great moments.

16. But you have to walk through the forest to get to the mountain top.

17. Your heart isn’t damaged. It is temporarily broken but it will be fixed.

18. However, the only one who can fix a broken heart is the one who created it.

19. So a cute boy or hot girl can’t put the pieces back together.

20. Neither can ice cream.

21. But ice cream can totally help.

22. Stop texting your ex. He/She is your ex for a reason.

23. Loving Jesus means loving people.

24. Loving Jesus also means loving the image of Him in the mirror you see.

25. Stop hiding your emotions. Stop crying in the bathroom or behind a locked door. You have people in your life who care about you.

26. Suicide is never the answer.

27. Breathe in, breathe out.

28. Do you feel your heart pump? Do you feel the air exiting your body? That is a sign you are here for a purpose. Your life is no mistake.

29. Just because you doubt, doesn’t mean you don’t believe in Jesus.

30. However, when walking on the water scares you, look to Jesus and keep your eyes on Him.

31. If you have the opportunity to go to school go. There are young girls around the world who would do anything to sit at the desk you are complaining about.

32. Don’t pick a career based on money.

33. However, I promise you can use any passion or gift to serve a purpose bigger than yourself if you allow yourself to give it to the One who gave it to you.

34. You don’t need pretty prayers to please God.

35. Talk to Him like you are talking to a friend.

36. Look for the good in everyone.

37. That includes the mean girl who no one likes. Chances are she is mean for a reason. Someone was once mean to her. Kill her with kindness.

38. Pray to have the Lord’s eyes. See people with love.

39. Try to have the Lord’s hands, always be reaching out to others.

40. Each morning, pray to have the Lord’s feet and go where He calls you.

41. It is a bad day, not a bad life.

SEE ALSO: What It's Like To Be A College Student In April

42. You don’t need a six-pack to find a man who loves you.

43. You need a spouse who will be able to look at you when you are 80, and wrinkly and maybe a little chunky, and you need him to love you then. If he loves you for your body and your hair, I promise he doesn’t actually love you. Looks fade, but love is eternal. Find someone who loves you like Jesus.

44. Do some squats.

45. But squat so you feel good about yourself, not to attract the opposite sex.

46. You are never too old to find a new hobby.

47. You were beautiful before someone told you.

48. If you don’t know if you are in relationship or not, leave. You deserve clarity, not insecurity.

49. You deserve friendships that are mutual.

50. The best Friday nights are spent with a puppy and food. It is okay to not always be social.

51. Stop worrying about whether your crush will text you back.

52. Stop over analyzing everything in general.

53. Pray for your future spouse.

54. However, also pray for your future bridesmaids/groomsmen. Some of the most influential people you may have in your life you may not have even met yet.

55. Storms bring strength.

56. And storms bring rainbows if you are patient and observant.

57. Stop Pinteresting your dream life and start living it.

58. The Bible is actually extremely relatable. Open it up. Read it.

59. Romans 8:28 “and we know God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” God is on your team. He wants you to have moments of celebration. He has a purpose for you greater than your bad day.

60. Never forget what Jesus did for you on that cross. When he died for you, it was painful and brutal. It was ugly. It was love. Don’t let that truth ever become numb to you no matter how many times you have heard the story.

61. There is nothing wrong with carbs.

62. Study. And don’t wait for the night before.

63. Find someone who you can look up to.

64. Also, never forget that there is always someone looking up to you. Act like someone you would want your future children to be. Act in a way that reflects wisdom.

65. Smile more, you are loved by the one who hung the stars and painted the sea. He created puppies and carbs–yet still loves you more. That is something to celebrate.

College is tough and life is hard. You are going to have moments where all you want to do is celebrate life with your best friends, but you will also have moments where you just want to lock the door, ignore everyone, and have a good cry. Never forget that your worth comes from something greater than your Biology grade, and from Someone greater that the one who broke your heart.

You aren’t too cool for Christ in college. Christ is a necessity for you in your life. He can hold your hand during your heartbreaks and failures and celebrate with you when you get the text back or a passing grade in foreign language. He loves for you and cares for you more than your sorority or fraternity ever will.

So buy your books, do your homework, but never forget when you are walking to you 8:00 a.m. you regretfully signed up for, to look up. Look at the clouds and the sky and thank your creator that in a big big world with many beautiful things, He still loves our messy hearts even more. So this one is for the boys for the King. This life is for the One who laid down His life.

I promise college is more fun when you dance with your Savior. Follow His lead and let him take you on a journey where you can find your purpose. You may not know where you are going, but you do know who you are following.

So never forget that although classes may be hard, and your metabolism may be slowing down–God is still good. He turns our ashes into beauty and our trials into our testimony. Do life with your creator and I promise you that you will have more than you need.

Romans 8:28 “And we know God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Check out my website for more articles on self-worth <3

Twitter: gracev96

Instagram: lemmebeyourvalentine

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Being An Empath Is Comforting, Not Weird

Who knew it was a real thing?

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First, background information. I am not a religious or spiritual person. I don't believe in ghosts and I've never visited a psychic. I don't wear crystals, unless they're faux and used solely for aesthetic value in my jewelry. And I'm an empath.

If you know about empaths, and maybe have been told that you are one, cool, you've found a kindred spirit in me. If you don't know what an empath is, but you feel like emotions are hard and overwhelming and everything in this article seems relatable, you may be one too.

I didn't know anything about empaths except vague preconceived notions of psychics and crazy people with colorful scarves, big eyes, and too much jewelry. Until I visited my family counselor and was told that she had diagnosed me as an empath.

More background—my family visits a counselor because I have a younger brother coping with some anxiety and depression issues, and occasionally I have been asked to visit so his therapist (a legitimate psychologist with about ten degrees hanging over her head in her study) can distinguish the family dynamic from all angles. I've been to her maybe four times, and the last time I went she dropped the empath label.

My first reaction was laughter—I thought she was being metaphorical, or kidding. But no, she was serious. And, as it turns out, so is the world of empaths.

Now, being an empath doesn't mean that I have crazy powers that can manipulate emotions and see auras. And no, this knowledge has not altered the way I feel or see things, it has just given definition and reasoning to the way I already interacted with the world around me.

Being an empath is simply a personality type. It's a very specific and fairly rare one (and much more common in females than in males) but a 'normal' personality type nonetheless. The name, and all the associated interactions and names that go along with it—energy vampires, auras, and all that—are simply harkened over from the only understanding of empaths before science and psychology stepped in.

So, what does it mean to be an empath?

Basically, it means you are hypersensitive to the thoughts and feelings of people around you. Some common traits of empaths include being able to tell when someone is lying without studying mannerisms/expressions, being able to feel the emotional "climate" of a room, feeling both the need to be around people and yet drained after being around large groups, and/ or feeling a change in your emotions because of the feelings of someone near you. Empaths are usually dog lovers, loyal friends, creative thinkers, and avid readers. They are usually shy but perceptive, and enjoy small gatherings of close friends over large groups. Many empaths are frazzled by large crowds and public spaces, and feel the need to 'recharge' after being around people for long periods of time.

In other words, it means you are empathetic. The weirdest things on the list, though I didn't know they were weird until I mentioned them to friends, are the abilities to read the 'climate' of a room, and tell when people are being dishonest/withholding information. I thought everyone could tell just by standing near a person whether they felt happy, sad, angry, or whatever else. Apparently, this is not the case. Which, though it doesn't change anything, is good to know about myself, and about people around me. It's important to remember that most people can't tell I'm upset just from the "vibes" I'm giving off. It is my somewhat unique ability to detect these "vibes" that gives way to the idea of 'auras'. Now, I don't pretend to see glowing colored projections around people or anything. But, I do get a sort of feeling, call it intuition or observation, whatever you wish, almost like a bit of how they are feeling is clouding how I'm feeling. My own mood shifts just a little when I'm in contact with someone who is feeling differently than me, and I am aware that it is a force outside of me that causes the change. And I realize now that I'm putting all of this to words for the first time, that it sounds a little out there. But it's true. And up until recently, I thought it was like this for everyone.

After I received the label of empath from the therapist, she told me a little bit about the reality of the personality type, and the ways to manage myself to ensure that I stay happy and healthy. She explained that, because I feel what others feel, I make it my duty to improve their emotional state, both out of legitimate concern and out of the hope that it will improve my emotional state if the people influencing it are experiencing positive emotions. She warned me that I am—in metaphorical and basic terms—giving pieces of my own emotional security away when I do this, which isn't a bad thing, as long as the effects are positive and the people I exercise this on return the good feelings and positivity as a result. When people continue to come back again and again with constant negativity, and I provide support to no avail, it can become incredibly draining and harmful to my emotional security. This is where that crazy term "energy vampire" comes from.

The phrase still makes me laugh to myself, but it really is just a simplified term for explain the effect of a toxic personality on an empathic person. It applies to people who need the constant attention, support, and reassurance of others to feel secure, and don't reciprocate that support, which, for an empath, means a continual drain.

So, if any of this sounds familiar, you might be an empath. It sounds funny and a little psychedelic, but for me, it's been an incredibly reassuring revelation. Now I have a reason for why my mood is so severely affected by people around me. I have an explanation for why I am so uncomfortable at parties or in large crowds when my friends have no problem with it. And, more than anything, it generally helps me to understand and accept myself.

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