I often describe myself as "the most introverted extrovert you'll ever meet." Usually, when I tell people, they laugh at me and say "But Brayden, you're one of the most social people I know!"
I guess this might be true, but this is the side of me people don't know.
It's time to end the stigma around solitude.
I love being alone. When I am not in committee meetings, leadership summits, or doing homework in the library, I am alone. I am not only alone because I want to, I am alone because I need to be. I believe human beings were not meant to be surrounded by other people 100% of the time. Human beings were not meant to live out their lives exclusively in the concrete jungles serving as psychological prisons we've come to accept as the norm.
I am by no means advocating for social isolationism, but the fact remains that the vast majority of us have placed such an overwhelming focus on our own social hierarchies that we've overlooked time for self-reflection and a time to gather our thoughts.
What separates us from animals is our brains — our mental capacity to think, to ponder. To revert from the chaos of everyday life and just stop and think about anything. About yourself, about your life, or about the world.
However, in every aspect of day-to-day life, societal norms have made it more difficult to stop and reflect on yourself — not as an athlete, a student, a member of a fraternity or sorority, but reflect on yourself as a person. As a human being. As an individual. And it's an absolute travesty. By neglecting to do this, we're suppressing an innate aspect of human nature and turning a blind eye to individuality and personal drive.
In a world that puts an incredible amount of pressure on the individual to conform, it's vital to understand that the world is like a puzzle. From a distance, one piece might be indecipherable from the next. But on closer inspection, you'll find that each is created with a purpose. No two pieces are the same. While they all have their place in a bigger picture, they are by no means the same. That's an important distinction.
People need to do more pondering.
It's good for the soul. When you are in solitude and start to ponder, you start to realize that the world is so much bigger than just ourselves.
This is my challenge to you, the reader. The person who has read to this point and somehow considers me wise or legitimate enough to read my writings and thinks there's even a minute value to my words (thank you!).
Take some time to be alone. Seek solitude. Go by yourself and find a place in the shade under a tree, the back of a coffee shop, an empty basketball gym, or the back of a library. Take a few pictures, notes, books ... ANYTHING that is important to you. Put on some music. Put your phone on airplane mode and just think. Think about why you get out of bed in the mornings. Think about what makes you happiest in the world. Think about what makes you you.