What does being alone mean to me?
“Being solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your won presence rather than of the absence of others. Because solitude is an achievement.” – Alice Koller
In my youth, it was easy to equate solitude to loneliness. And I know that lots of people still feel that way. I remember moments in my childhood where I wanted to be surrounded by friends and to constantly be doing something exciting with other people. I can even recollect a day when I broke down in tears because I didn’t have people to spend time with and I was bored. But as with most things I grew out of it.
My entire family could be considered to be introverts. We all enjoy our alone time. My parents, my younger brother and I all enjoy each others company and the company of out closest friends, however we often take time out for ourselves.
As I’ve grown up, being alone has become comfortable and more than often reprieve from the rush of everyday life. I guess my first real dose of solitude came when I was at university. High school was a time where I was surrounded by people I knew and interacted with on a regular basis. There was never time off from that. University however meant that I got to dictate my life. I chose the classes I wanted. I joined clubs I liked. I got to enjoy long bus rides to and from the city. I got time to go and walk around and discover the nooks and hiding places on campus. It was addictive to say the least. These new-found moments of solitude gave me time to think and truly enjoy my own company. It also gave me the courage to do something else.
In 2013 I flew across the world to volunteer in Costa Rica. By myself. Yes, there were other people also volunteering but I only met them when I got there. While I was nervous as I had never done anything like this before, I was also completely exhilarated by the experience. For four weeks, I was mostly unplugged and I had the opportunity to be introspective like never before. It gave me an experience I will never forget and that I still talk about if I get the chance.
After that, I honestly love having moments of solitude. In fact, I now actively find moments alone. Sometimes I make an excuse to go out just so I can drive around by myself. I like taking moments to grab a coffee and just sit at a table a people watch.
The photo below is one I took when I travelled to visit a friend in Tekapo, NZ. The location was magnificent and oh so picturesque. I spent my time taking photos and exploring while my friend worked. This photo was taken on the summit of Mt John. This woman had obviously climbed the mountain on her own and had taken a moment to stop and enjoy the view. It reminded me of a quote above by Alice Koller. Solitude is truly an achievement. It’s not always easy to spend time with yourself because I sometimes find that I am my own worst enemy. And to actively seek solitude is being brave enough to get to know yourself and become aware of who you really are.
The next photo is one I took on a family getaway this summer. It’s aptly captioned with a quote by Robert Fulghum.