It will surprise many, who know me to find that I’d rather do the dishes in the kitchen than talk to a stranger at a party, (shhh, don’t tell my husband). I like the quiet work of the chore. The alone time to regroup.
But put me at a party or in a group and I can be very polite. I will reach out to you. Engage in dialogue. Smile. I may even have fun. For this reason, many don’t see the threads of introversion that tether me. After all, I really do like people, it’s the social interactions that can be so darn exhausting. I prefer small gatherings, quiet dinners, sitting still alone reading a good book – for hours. I like texting. Days of unscheduled quiet time. I fantasize about living in a shack on a mountaintop – alone.
In this way I suspect I’m like my grandmother who said she was “antisocial, but not unfriendly.” She was happiest while sipping her coffee and reading her newspapers.
Course to find a moment alone, I’ve got to schedule it. Sometimes days in advance. Sometimes, the only quiet time I get is in the shower — and I’ll take it. I need a bit each day to feel centered. It’s hard to find with a six-year-old (who right now is dancing to the Macarena behind me), and a job, and a husband who actually wants to hear my voice occasionally (keyword: occasionally).
I have friends who I adore and am finding, despite my best efforts, that those friendships cannot be maintained solely through text messages. But, as long as my world is busy and loud and engaging and yes, super fun and fulfilling, I will schedule some time for quiet.
Sometimes that means missing out on something else I love, but solitude is a gift to spirit and to self and I’m always better for it. And, to you extroverts out there, don’t panic now, but I think you would benefit from some quiet too. It’s good for everyone.
The Benefits of Solitude
It’s only in the quiet that you can actually get to know your thoughts. Solitude is the root of innovation and creativity. It is restorative. Quiet time eases stress, lowers inflammation, and promotes well-being.
“Solitude is a catalyst for expert performance,” writes Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
When you’re alone you are more likely to make progress on a goal or resolve the challenges you’re facing. You are more likely to tap into your insights, to identify your emotions and where they are coming from so they become a source of knowledge and strength rather than an impetus for wild behavior or rising anxiety. From quiet moments with self you tap into your greatest strengths, identify your capabilities, and use them for good. You gain perspective and access to your greatest resource – yourself.
So, today, take a breath, and find a moment of quiet. It won’t necessarily come to you, you must make time for it, and in Wednesday post, I’ll tell you how. Even the extroverts among us will find it helpful — seriously. Think of it like, say, uh, taking a bathroom break at a party. No matter where you are or what your day holds after a few minutes of quiet you’ll be refreshed and ready to get back to it.