Whenever someone feels the same as I do about something, and articulates it in such a way that those words could very well be my own, I'm left feeling both validated (Hooray! I'm not alone!), and a little spooked (How did this person read my mind?). In the recent December issue of Vogue, the novelist Elif Shafak writes about finding a balance between her independent, nomadic lifestyle and her relationship with the love of her life. Reading Shafak's description of her uncompromising need for time to herself, I felt as though my own thoughts, somehow psychically channeled from afar, were being put to paper right before my very eyes.
I have always been fond of solitude. I have friends who go crazy if they have to spend more than a few hours alone. I have met people who jump from one relationship to another, only because they hate to be single. With me, it is pretty much the opposite. If I cannot spend at least some time alone every day, I miss myself. It may sound narcissistic, but I need to retreat into a space where I listen to and sometimes quarrel with the many voices within.
And this is all true for me, too. Time to myself isn't an indulgence or a rewarding break from work or being busy. It's a mental, emotional, spiritual, even physical need. I don't get angry anymore when others don't seem to understand, nor relate (even amongst other introverts, we all have our own varying degrees of introversion), but I do bristle, and even push back when it feels like someone doesn't respect this part of who I am. I'm 30-something years old. I know myself well enough by now to be certain that this isn't a passing phase, nor does my need for solitude lessen according to the other person I'm with (and it's insulting when someone assumes to be an exception to the situation). In other words, it's not about you, it's about me. Me. Myself. And I.
I live alone. And while I do spend a great deal of time NOT in the company of others, it's not the same as time spent alone with myself. Doing chores at home on a Saturday doesn't carry the same value as taking myself out for a glass of wine, or curling up somewhere with a good read, or even just staring out a window, and I'm pretty certain any of my close friends would be insulted if I invited them to come spend real, quality time with me...while I folded laundry and distractedly responded to emails.
Just as I get excited to make a plan and catch up with a good friend I haven't seen in a while, that's the kind of dedicated one-on-one time that I look forward to with myself. Me. Myself. And I. And maybe it is a little selfish to some, but to me, it's about self-awareness and striving to better know myself before I can even begin to know others. It's a lifelong pursuit, for sure, which is why I'm carving out what time I can now.