Real Talk: The Upside of Being Alone

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Hello everyone,

Today I want to talk about something different – something that is deeply personal to me. Maybe it relates to you as well.

I used to hate being alone. I used to spread my introverted self thin, and fill my evenings and weekends with activities, because I thought I needed to be with people. It seriously drained me.

Now, my fiancé is on the other side of the country (and when we are talking about Canada, this is a long distance.) And I am living in a smaller city called London, away from my family and 71.4% of my closest friends. Being an introvert, who is now happy about being an introvert, I spend a lot of time alone.

There is a stigma to being alone. On social media, we see pictures of people having fun with friends, and we feel that there is something wrong with being alone, that it’s not fun, that you can’t possibly be happy. When we see a group of people chatting and laughing on the street, we assume that they are having fun and that they are happy. When we see someone eating alone at a restaurant, we wonder if they are bored or lonely.

I want to challenge that. I want to challenge the idea that being with people makes us happy, and that being alone is lonely. I want to sell you the idea that being alone is absolutely fine.

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Better alone than with bad company. You know those friends who you love to bits and pieces, who make you laugh and inspire you, who leave you feeling happy and fulfilled? These are the people who are worth our time. And then you know those other people, maybe even people we call “friends”, who we don’t connect with or relate to, who leave us feeling drained, who, even worse, hurts us? These people we are better without.

Coming out of college and moving to London to start a new job, I feared living on my own. At the same time, I didn’t have any close friends in London. So, I moved in with a girl who I thought was my “friend”, who I knew from the outset that we had little in common with. We did not get along, our personalities clashed, and, needless to say, the year was disastrous.

Now, I am living on my own for the first time, and I love every, single, minute of it.

Being alone is not the same as being lonely. We can be alone and happy. We can be surrounded by people while feeling desperately alone.

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Being alone inspires creativity. Are you a creative person? Creativity doesn’t have to relate to art. Maybe you like writing, or dance, or music, or drama. Maybe you like to brainstorm solutions for real-world problems. Maybe you just like to imagine how the world can be a better place.

I think that being alone gives us the headspace to think of new ideas, without the influence of other people and the outside world. As a blogger and writer, I find that my best ideas pop out when I’m least expecting it, usually when I am walking, or driving, or just on the verge of sleep.

Or maybe you are different from me. Do your best ideas come when you are alone? Or when you are with people?

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Being alone gives you the freedom to try something new. One thing I’ve learned in my twenty-six years of living is that we don’t have to ask permission. Sure, there are consequences to our actions. If we break a law, likely we will end up behind bars. If we jump from a cliff without a harness, likely we will end up on the operating table. And we will likely hear from our friends and families about it. But, my point is, if it is safe and legal and something that we are interested in, why not? We don’t need permission from anybody.

I had a lot of fun spending time with my friends. At the same time, I missed opportunities to do things I wanted to do, because I always ended up doing what my friends wanted to do. Now, I still ask my friends to join me in my adventures, because it’s nice to have company. But whether or not people come with me, I am going to do it anyway.

And the cool thing is: We meet a lot of cool people along the way. There is something about being alone which opens us up to meeting new people. Maybe, when we are outside of our social bubble, we are more willing to start a conversation with a stranger. Or strangers are more willing to start a conversation with someone who is not already preoccupied.

I went to my pole dancing class terribly shy and nervous, and now I met a bunch of cool gals who inspire me to try my best everyday. I also started blogging with one sad follower (myself), and now I have lots more (you guys are truly amazing).

If I had spent all that time with friends, maybe it would be fun. But would I have learned to pole dance, met awesome blogging pals, read books that speak to my heart, traveled around the world, and have so many interesting stories to tell? I don’t think so.

How do you feel about being alone? Have you tried something new on your own? Have you traveled alone? Do you have favourite “alone” activities?

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22 thoughts on “Real Talk: The Upside of Being Alone

  1. Being alone is not the same as being lonely” <— YES THIS! i wish more people understood it. I hate that media so often portrayals people who are alone as being miserable, and like SURE we don't want to be alone all the time…but being alone can really help you grow as a person. Who are you when you're alone? Because that's usually the truest you and it's nice to really get to understand yourself. I am a huge fan of alone time. 😂 I loved this post and agree so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment and I am glad that you can relate 🙂 I absolutely agree that the media portrays being alone in a negative manner. And it is so true that we learn to understand ourselves by spending some time alone!

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  2. Isolation as a positive has a long tradition. Wise thinkers have often been known to seek the quiet of a secluded place. Communion with the natural world, quiet solitude, independent study, isolation, awareness in the performance of menial tasks, even indolence = these are poetic ideals. You, Sophie Li, are in good company when you sometimes choose to be alone!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I absolutely agree! Glad that you feel similarly as I do 🙂 I think part of being truly happy is to learn to be happy alone, while enjoying company as well. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A great article! I totally agree although I wouldn’t classify myself as introvert (who does actually?). I am the kind of person that needs to be alone from time to time and I am lucky enough to have an understanding wife that tries her best to strike a balance. I can’t say I do anything special alone but it feels like I am more focused and get nice ideas. Sorry for all that but I just had to share with people that I know will understand.

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    • Hi Michael!
      I’m glad that you can relate! Having new ideas is one of great things about spending time alone.
      No worries at all, I am happy when you and other readers share from your own lives. And I love it when people can relate to what I write about. That’s what this blog is for 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. AHA! Real talk! I love it! And I’m so happy you bring this up because it’s completely and utterly true, but I’d like to add: Not just for introverts. 😉 I don’t say that to knock on introverts, but while there is this stigma against being alone, there’s an even bigger stigma against extroverts being alone. Like, we’re known for being the life of the party (aka just being super obnoxious and loud ALLLL the time. Hahaha!) But when we aren’t, people assume there’s something wrong. Like, it’s not natural for us to be quiet, tired, needing some space. People get all clingy and freak out and it’s like… Dude… you’re making it worse. I just need time because extroverts got batteries too, you know. 😛 Ours just… have more charge stations. 😁

    But what I love most about being alone is the ability to think. It’s really hard to pause and reflect when you’re constantly surrounded by people (or even when you’re crazy busy), but reflection and adjustments are vital to surviving a crazy, hectic lifestyle, especially when changes are being made. I’ve found that I need more alone time as of late because I have so much going on. (That sounded like an oxymoron. >.> *shrug*) But it’s my way of accepting the changes. Yes, I need to talk to people and I am severely indecisive so I’m constantly asking others’ opinions, but I still need the quiet, alone time to come to term with those decisions once I’ve made them.

    Also… I just kind of hate people. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s super interesting to hear from your perspective as an extrovert, Melanie! I didn’t know that extroverts need to recharge at all, although I wonder if all extroverts have a small bit of introvert in them, and it is in the introvert part that needs to recharge 🙂 Just like how all introverts have some degree of extraversion which drives them to socialize 🙂

      I can see why people are concerned when an extrovert gets quiet – after all, you guys are usually the life of the party! I think I may be guilty of asking, “what’s wrong?” at least once XD But of course it is understandable that you guys need your space as well.

      Being alone does give us the ability to think and reflect! For me, it is hard to come to a decision that is truly mine unless I have the time to think about it. Because of this, I say “I’ll get back to you” at least once a day 🙂 And I am constantly bugging a small handful of people for their opinions.

      Nothing wrong with hating people! My fiancé aren’t fond of people, and I don’t quite know what to make of them yet. But you are the first extrovert I met who doesn’t like people 🙂

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      • Hee hee! I love being able to bring an extrovert’s POV to these discussions (because so many book bloggers and readers tend to be introverts) and because many extroverts haven’t actually given much thought to their differences. They see introverts as wrong or boring or hostile or whatever. They don’t understand them, but I want to! I love understanding people, which is why I love these discussions. 🙂

        I can understand not knowing extroverts need to recharge. For us… it’s very strange. Like… the way I’ve seen it explained is introverts build energy up and then extroverts suck it away. Horrible analogy, but it’s actually kind of true. Because while introverts get drained from social interaction, most extroverts thrive on it. We drink the energy of the people around us and end up magnifying it. I know from experience that I get REALLY amped up around people, but (because most of them are introverts), they burn out after a while and when they go home, I’m stuck in my car blasting out my eardrums because I’m still SOOOO energized.

        Haha! Speaking of parties… I love to party! 😉 I’m actually REALLY big on clubbing, but there’s nowhere to go where I live. So lame! And I live in a college town, too! Ugh! But in addition to when I get quiet (often from aggravation of people or just one of my mellow moods), I have resting bitch face. HARD CORE! So the whole “what’s wrong” gets amplified on me ten fold! And I’m like: “Nothing. I’m just observing.” And they’re all: “Nah! You’re pissed. If you’re gonna be in a bad mood then we should just leave.” and I’m like: 😦

        BAHAHAHA! Yes, people seem to be quite fascinated by my hating people as an extrovert. I see it as I’ve interacted with too many different types of people and find a good majority of them to be… well, dumb or boring. :/ Not to be harsh, but there are very few people I actually want to hang out with and be around and chat with. The rest of the populace is just… an inconvenience. Though, you would never know I hate people because I’m REALLLLLY good at BSing my way through any conversation. 😎

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      • That’s interesting that you mention that readers and bloggers tend to be introverts. I think it’s true because reading is an introverted activity because it doesn’t involve interaction with other people. I can see how it attracts introverts because we can experience an exciting world without having to interact with the world ourselves. So I also find it very interesting that you like to read although you are an extrovert :p

        I definitely feel drained from social interaction. Two hours and I’m good (just enough to sit down for lunch or dinner haha). My extroverted friends are like you, in that they seem to want to hang out for a longer period of time (have lunch, then go shopping, then have dinner, then sleep over and do something else the next day). I love my extroverted friends and I try my best but it really is exhausting!

        That’s not unexpected that you like to party haha 🙂 I like clubbing because I love dancing but most of my friends don’t like clubbing (even my extroverted friends haha…) There are lots of clubs where I live but no one to go with! It’s kind of frustrating haha XD

        I also have a resting bitch face so I can relate! My neutral expression looks angry haha, so I have to make sure that I’m at least half smiling most of the time. That’s funny how people react when you tell them that you’re just observing 🙂

        Seems like it is efficient to dislike most people, you would be saving lots of time and energy by only hanging out with people that you like 🙂 I am actually a bit shy. I like spending time with friends but most other people terrify me! Maybe I should learn to dislike some of them instead 🙂

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      • Bahahaha! I might be an extrovert, but you must remember, I’m also crazy. Crazy people like to imagine lots of things and reading helps me do that. 😉 Also writing.

        Hahaha! Your extroverted friends honestly sound like my high school summers. One friend basically lived at my house for the summer and we’d go to my neighbor’s pool every day. She’d go home once in a while just to grab more clothes. :p I thought it was awesome! (We’re not friends anymore, though. >.>)

        WHAT!? Where do you live? *books train ticket* You’re not that far from me, right? Like… Ontario or something? I’ll party with you! (but… I may need a place to crash for the night. :/ )

        BAHAHHAHA! I hardly ever pay attention to my resting bitch face unless I’m interacting with someone. God. It’s amazing how much people think I like people when they see me interact with others. They also think I’m nice for some reason… I’m just a really good actress, apparently. 😉

        HAHAHAHAHAHA! That wasn’t quite what I meant. :p I mean, I still have to interact with people I don’t like. That’s just part of life. Though, I base my friends more on who can handle my personality. I’m crazy. I’m exuberant. I’m more likely to dance to the music in a store than actually shop and if someone can’t handle that, well, we ain’t gonna be friends. I have spent too much time, energy, and emotions of people who didn’t like me for me. They liked part of me and I ain’t gonna waste my life on people like that anymore. You got a problem with me? Fine. That’s your problem. 😂

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      • Haha yes! I am crazy too! (A lot of people don’t realize it since I am generally quiet when they first meet me, and I fool them into thinking that I am normal.) I think it takes a certain amount of craziness to be a writer 😉

        I live in London Ontario right now but the best clubs are in Toronto where I grew up! You are welcome to come visit! 🙂

        That’s amazing how you are a good actress. That is a skill that I want to learn someday 🙂 In general I think I am a nice person but I wear my heart on my sleeve haha.

        That is a great attitude to be yourself and not waste time on people who you don’t care about. It’s something that I am starting to learn 🙂 I have so much more time and energy to focus on what I love to do (like reading and writing) when I don’t force myself to hang out with people who I don’t click with. I also love to dance to the music in stores 🙂

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      • BAHAHAHA! It’s the quiet ones you have to look out for. Everyone knows that. 😂 And it definitely takes a certain level of crazy to be a writer. I mean… you create fictional people, put them in fictional worlds, and make them do fictional things, and THEN treat them like real people by discussing them with actual real people. :p

        WAH! So many book bloggers live in Ontario! We really need to set up like… a convention or something! And I’ll just pop over from my little Mitten state. 😉 I can see it now!

        *newscaster voice* And on tonight’s news: Somebody apparently let an American into the country and allowed her to organize an event of anti-social internet nweebs who happen to blog about books. Everything seemed fine until they left the convention center and entered the clubs. 0.0

        Haha! Hey, it sounds like you’re a genuinely nice person, though. I… am not. :/ You are far more accepted in society than I am. :p

        WAH! You and I are totally hanging out. We’re gonna get together and we’re all gonna gooooo….. SHOPPING! Bahaha! But really it’s just an impromptu dance mob… of the two of us. 😂 Now I really wanna come visit you. :p

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      • I think I’ve heard that creative people are somewhere on the spectrum of craziness 🙂 It does make sense, because we gotta be a bit removed from reality to imagine stories in our heads. When I tell my friends about what I’m writing, they are perplexed about where my story and character ideas come from, and they are surprised that I just make things up. And I’m like, “but… how can you not?” :/

        That’s hilarious!! To think that a bunch of book nerds would be seen leaving the convention centre to go to the club 🙂 I kind of want to do that just to prove to people that bookworms can party too! We should do a blogger meet-up sometime. It would be fun 🙂

        See, the problem is that though I may be nice on the inside, people might think I’m antisocial on the outside! I don’t know which way is more socially acceptable 🙂

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      • Hahaha! Same. Even some of my own writer friends think I’m crazy just because of the sheer number of ideas I get. I tried to give up writing many times over the years, but the stories keep coming back. o.o They’re like little voices in my head that haunt me and tell me to do things. o.O (Hee hee!)

        YAS! Finally someone supports my blogger meet-up! I know a BUNCH of us in the Michigan/Ontario area. We could meet up in like… Sarnia or something (though, I don’t think that has any clubs. Hmm…) We’ll have to see. And find time and like… plan. Hahahaha!

        I think yours is the better scenario. People can get to know you and see you’re a nice person. People get to know me and they think: “What in the nine layers of Hell did I get myself into?! o.o”

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      • AHH!! So sorry that I didn’t reply sooner!! It’s been crazy (wobble wobble faint)

        That’s great that you get a lot of ideas! I have to admit that it comes in bursts for me. Sometimes I get all these ideas at once, usually when I am crazy busy and don’t have time to write, then when I actually have time, the ideas disappear, and I’m sitting there twiddling my thumbs haha… Funny how my mind works.

        Haha I know Sarnia! Personally I haven’t been there but… I don’t think it has clubs LOL. Toronto and even London have some clubs, and Detroit (but is that sketch?! I hear that sometimes, but some people I’ve met love going to Detroit)

        Haha about the nice person/not-nice person thing. Let’s agree that it is a case of grass-is-greener, and that we are both awesome 🙂

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      • Hahaha! I think it depends on where you are in Detroit as to whether it’s shady or not. Aaand perhaps who you’re with. :p I wouldn’t know. I don’t have much reason to go down there, but I knew a guy who used to go clubbing there in college. So, I imagine there’s a few.

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