Monday, June 18, 2012

solitude vs. isolation

I have to admit, I am the type of person who enjoys alone time. I have never been one to always have to have people around me. I enjoy people. I enjoy social situations. But I also enjoy time by myself. As a matter of fact, I would even go so far as to say that I need to be alone sometimes.

Being alone (not lonely, mind you, just by myself) allows me time to think. It allows me time to be quiet and still. It allows me to rest and refresh.

I can't think of a time when I wasn't OK with being alone. As a girl I would spend time in my room laying on my bed listening to music, and reading magazines or drawing or writing letters to friends. I loved spending quiet time in my own space.

As a young adult I rented a small one-bedroom apartment (and I do mean small...maybe 400 sq. ft....maybe) out in the country. It was quite a drive from town so not many people just "popped in" to visit. I loved that little apartment. It was just the right size for me and Rosie, my cat. As a young single girl you can imagine I went out with my friends...a lot. But there were also those times when I opted to stay home, alone. I would watch TV or listen to music, I would paint or draw, I would cook, I would tend to my little front yard or sometimes I would just sit out front and watch the sun go down. can be a good thing.

However, I have learned that I have to be careful. I have to be careful that what begins as solitude doesn't morph into isolation. Isolation is not the same as solitude. Isolation is an avoidance mechanism. To isolate is to avoid people and social situations as opposed to solitude which is more like taking a purposeful break from social activity.

As a person who deals with anxiety and depression I have to be careful that my times of solitude don't become times of isolation. Being alone is good for me, yes. But I have to be aware not to take it too far. Because I can if I allow myself.

Solitude vs. isolation...healthy vs. unhealthy...I'm so glad that I have learned the difference.


Denise said...

i think when i wasn't working the last two years - i isolated myself too much. I like my solitude too which I had next to none this last weekend - which I think led to my anxiety this morning. this is good stuff michelle - thanks for sharing

christina said...

your apartment sounds like it was just heaven! you and i are too much alike. i kind of love that. xo

Jennifer said...

I feel the same way and then I beat myself up for not being too social and my mother and my grandmother and my sister remind me that we all in my mother's family like our solitude.

But you are right, I lean too far towards isolation and then you become kind of afraid to reach out. I feel like I'm on that end of the spectrum right now.

So I'm off to a book discussion tonight. Let the comfort of a good book lead the way.

Thanks Michelle for saying the things I need to hear for me to grab when I need it.