Can introverts ever have too much alone time?
If you’d asked me this question a few years ago when I was still in a crazy busy full time job, I would have said no. I craved alone time with an absolute passion and would hold on desperately to every single moment of solitude that I could find.
However, these days life is a little different. Now that I work from home full time (most of which is spent on my own), I would say that yes, there is such a thing as too much alone time, even for someone as highly introverted as me.
If you hang out on the online world for too long, you could soon be led to believe that introverts are hermits who don’t require any human interaction whatsoever. And although I can’t speak for every introvert across the globe, certainly for me, living the ‘hermit’ life isn’t the life I want to live.
Yes, we can laugh about how we hate small talk and love cancelled plans but ultimately we are all human beings. And I would suggest that as human beings, interaction and connection with others is crucial for a happy and fulfilling life – no matter who you are.
When alone time stops being energising
When my partner, Ollie, (who I live with) recently went away for 2 weeks to ride the length of the UK, I found myself spending huge amounts of time on my own; working from home all day and then spending most of my evenings alone. Yes, I met up with friends and family during that time, but mostly I was all on my tod.
In theory this was going to be a hugely productive and reflective time. As much as I love Ollie, I also love my alone time. I had plans to get stuck into new projects, explore ideas, find clarity and direction. But in reality after a couple of days something very different happened. I started to feel a bit lost. My mojo left me, I became lazy, a bit numb, and completely lacking in energy. It seemed that after a while the alone time stopped being energising. I had reached my peak and now it was going the other way.
Why is it important to connect with others?
It can be very easy to fall in to the trap of believing that because you are introverted you will be happy being on your own all the time. However I’ve discovered that the reality can be quite different. We all need people in our lives in some form or another. And here’s why…
1. To feel loved and valued
After the basic human needs of shelter, food, water, safety etc, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs puts love and belonging next on the scale of importance – and it’s not hard to see why. Whether or not you are an introvert, humans are social creatures who create lives around family, friendships and connections; we have an inbuilt need to feel loved, valued and accepted. Even if you rarely meet up with people face to face my bet is that you spend a lot of time on social media connecting with others and seeing what people are doing. Spending time with people, nurturing friendships and caring for others brings us a sense of belonging. It helps us find our place in the world and in turn helps bring us happiness and energy.
2. To share ideas and experiences
Through the journey of life there are ups and downs, twists and turns, highs and lows. I love giving myself time alone to process the world around me and reflect on the situations that I find myself in. However there are also times when I need more than my own thoughts. When I need support from others, a comforting hug, some advice, a soundboard to bounce ideas off, someone to celebrate with or give me a motivational boost when I need one. Having people to share our worlds with can bring inspiration, courage, comfort, joy, clarity and energy. We’re all in this world together remember, so let’s share the beauty and fun times rather than keeping them all to ourselves.
3. To simply get out of your head
One of the things I missed most when Ollie was away was simply having someone to get me out of my head. There is only so much continuous thinking you can do before the thoughts run dry. There needs to be a break, moments when you step back, interact with others, talk about the lives of other people, laugh, be entertained, rest and relax. I’ve found that I have a point where the quiet reflection moves from creative, natural daydreams to unproductive thoughts that seem to lead nowhere. Too much alone time = too much time in my head = creativity and inspiration running dry. Energy doesn’t just come from the quiet alone time that I have so often craved. It also comes from the world around me, from the people I love and from the daily activities that distract me from having my head in the clouds.
Finding the balance
You’re an introvert, and that’s a wonderful thing. But spending time with people is an incredible part of life too. My advice to you? Find your balance, spend time with those you love, give yourself space to have your head in the clouds any time you desire, and remember that being an introvert doesn’t mean never leaving the house. You can be an introvert and still love people and adventures. So let’s ditch the ‘hermit’ life and embrace being with people too!
OVER TO YOU…
What are your thoughts on this post? Have you experienced the same lack of motivation when you spend too much time alone? Or are you actually completely happy being by yourself all of time? I’d love to hear about your experiences so leave a comment below!
PS: If you’d like to connect with other introverts in business there is lots of positive support going on in The Sanctuary. Head here to join this free online community.