A couple of weeks ago I was looking forward to Saturday. I mean, we all look forward to Saturday but I was especially excited because nothing was happening. Nothing. At all.

If you know me well, you’ll know this is not my normal goal. Solitude is something I rarely crave; my refuelling time is usually surrounded by people. If my day is filled with social activities, I’m happy. But more recently I’ve realised how much I enjoy solitude. I’ve learnt how to be refuelled by time spent on my own, without talking to others.

Solitude gives the time to sit and be. I don’t have to do or explain myself. I can switch off my phone – and I ought to. I can switch off my thoughts. I might listen, to those around me, to God, to my thoughts. I could write. I could read. I could watch that TV programme I’ve been wanting to see or sleep, or write a letter. This story is unlikely to have come in my conscious without being alone – I would have likely been talking not listening.

I’ve even gone so far as to holiday alone. My stays have thus far been in friends’ vacant homes, and I’ve taken myself off out or the day to places I wanted to visit. 

A solitary moment in Oxford.

A feeling of solitude seems to speak of contentment in being alone instead of loneliness. Solitude expresses a security in being by oneself and in being oneself; something that has taken me some time to achieve. Being solitary gives me the option to do what I’d like to, to take time to invest in myself. I can give time to the things I’m passionate about, or go with the moment as it takes me.

The fear of missing out (or ‘FOMO’ as it’s affectionately known) is a feeling I’m all too familiar with. Turning down an invitation has become a challenge to me – most likely as I genuinely want to attend. But there is a freedom in the solitude. It doesn’t have to be still and silent. Solitude is as likely to find me dancing around my bedroom or expressing my voice in writing as it is in silent contemplation. In fact, that’s how solitude is more likely to find me. Because it is a place I can come alive, albeit in a different way. My expression of who I am is unhindered by others’ perceptions or opinions, while giving time for inner reflection. 

Does the silence scare you? Solitude can be found outside, even surrounded by others; it seems to me it is an awareness of the soul, an accessing of the quiet voice and reflections. 

I have had to learn to enjoy solitude. But now, there is a depth of contentment in the quiet, a fuller knowledge and greater awareness. I have come to enjoy solitude, and even look forward to it, content in the quiet. 

Finding solitude on this swing outside Kings Cross, watching the commuters go by with a coffee in my hand. Despite the early hour, I knew this had been a very content start to the day.

2 thoughts on “Solitude

  1. The most delightful realization I ever made was on a solitary trip to Paris in February 2010 — I enjoy my own company. I was alone for the whole trip. I didn’t even make any travelling companion friends in the hostel. It was a beautiful and introspective time for me as I visited all the sites I wanted: Vimy Ridge, Musee d’Orsay, Notre Dame. A wonderful experience.


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