Enjoy the Solitude in Maturity: Time Alone Can Be Delicious


Einstein
said, “I live in that solitude which is painful in youth but delicious in the
years of maturity.”

I live
there too, these days. It’s new to me, brought on by shifting circumstances and
changing times. Over the past few years, I struggled through a period of being
increasingly disappointed in others and desperately longing for connection, passion,
and fulfillment.

When I finally
realized the only way to find that for which I longed was to look to myself, everything
started to shift.

It was not easy, especially after living my entire adult life as an extrovert who thrived on the energy and attention of others. But change is sometimes essential, especially when it arrives as a hard lesson discovered through tears and frustration.

Suddenly,
one morning hiking alone, because there was no one around to join me – again – I realized
how much I enjoyed the solitude.

So, I made
it a habit and now regularly head off alone to explore the hills and the
recesses of my own mind, wonderfully accessible within the silence. I now enjoy
being alone to think, observe, feel, and just be with myself.

The more
time I spend alone with my thoughts the more I find answers to the questions
and dilemmas that challenge me in my new era of learning to find purpose beyond
my career, in a body that is changing in so many unforeseen ways, and relating
to relationships that are different than expected.

I have
begun to understand I am the one person in my life who is constant, on whom I can
count, and with whom I can find contentment.

It wasn’t
really a conscious shift, more of a series of “ah-ha” moments that occurred
after spending more and more time pursuing what interested me whether or not
there was someone else with whom to enjoy it. I have grown into the mature
years that Einstein was referring to and it is quite wonderful.

So, what
changed? How am I now more fulfilled and happier to be alone instead of
struggling with an unrelenting need for companionship? It seems to come down to
a few simple realizations.

I focus on
what I like to do, what brings me joy, not on the relationship to the person
with whom I share it.

I love to
hike. But, for years, I would only go when I had a partner, which meant I
missed out when others were busy or would cancel last minute.

I started
heading out alone instead of cancelling on myself, and I found I enjoyed it
even more. I go where I please, at my own pace, and am free to pause in
reflection, which brings a deeper satisfaction to my outings.

They are
still a strenuous workout but now I have the added benefit of spending time in
my own mind without distraction. I now hike alone nearly every morning.

Exploring my
own thoughts, listening intently to the voice that serves as my guide through my
feelings and emotions, brought rewarding insights. But I needed to be quiet to
hear it.

So, in
addition to spending time alone hiking and biking, I’ve started doing other
creative endeavors that allow my mind to wander. I bought a starter kit of
acrylic paints and have enjoyed discovering not only my creativity but the ideas
that reveal themselves while my mind is open and unencumbered.

I also
write every morning, releasing to paper whatever is on my mind as I awaken to a
new day. I have come to understand myself, my desires, and my boundaries much
more clearly because of it.

I still
enjoy good company and loving relationships with those in my life. But I find I
have less tolerance these days for idle chit chat.

Instead, I
seek intimate conversation, honest sharing of ideas, and emotions that cut
through what’s happening and get to how we feel about what’s happening. It’s a
subtle but important distinction.

I’m not seeking
a monastic life, rather, one of balance, with time devoted to self and the
company of loved ones, and a well-chosen group of friends and acquaintances who
contribute to my well-being and happiness.

When I
feel the need for companionship, and none of my friends are available, I join a
meetup group to go hiking or participate in a writing group. It’s amazing how
easily a stranger can become a friend given the right circumstance.

The world can be a chaotic place sometimes, and in order to comfortably settle into solitude, we need to seek out silence and inspiration. Take a chance. Give it a try. Choose something you enjoy and do it alone a few times, just to see how it feels.

Spend some
time with yourself, listen to your inner voice, and really hear what it has to
say. You might find, as I did, and as Einstein did, that it’s delicious.

How much
time do you spend on your own? Do you revel in it or do you try to run from it?
What activities can you do on your own? Do you find you enjoy them more? Please
join the conversation!

Let’s Have a Conversation!



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