05 April 2012

Michelle in Solitude

Image found at this wonderful Tumblr.
Once upon a time, I had a deep desire to live alone. I started looking at places and found one I loved, but a lot of outside pressure telling me "it wouldn't be good for me" made me hesitate, and the wonderful place with the inset lighting, shiny new floors, and a soon-to-be balcony overlooking a grassy area that led to a dock and a by-the-river swing slipped away.

Finally, that desire has been fulfilled, and no matter how temporary it is, I love it. Some people thrive on human interaction all the time. I enjoy people, but I also need space sometimes.

"Space?" you ask. "Didn't you have your own room when you lived with other people?" Mostly, yes. But just by sharing living space with someone, I felt a stressful pressure that made me feel like I could never really be at home. I felt like even when I didn't want to, I had to put on a good face and interact with others. I need time to turn off that social side of me and let my task-oriented self focus on other things. I need breaks where I don't feel bad for not talking or for simply wanting to take a nap.

Isn't it funny that there are two words for an alone state? "Loneliness" and "solitude." One negative, one positive. I don't feel lonely--and I fully agree that could be because I still have a wonderfully supportive boyfriend who fills my need for human interaction outside of work. But this solitude is like the first installment of sweet manna from heaven. I breathe it in and it heals my soul. Who knew how wonderful letting silence engulf you could be?

I can hear a cute little family that lives above me, but often I don't even notice what's going on upstairs (though I do have to say I'm glad that they go to sleep early so I can, too), and I don't feel obligated to put on a face or interact with them when I don't feel like it or when I have other things to do. I can laugh when I hear the little boy running across the floor over and over, but I don't have to point out how cute he is to his parents every time.

I love being able to focus and get things done, I love keeping everything at my level of cleanliness, I love not being annoyed by the activities in the next room and feeling like I then have to be quiet and overly considerate in everything I do, I love that I get to be in charge of this space and that it surrounds me with light and lovely things.

Plus, to make coming home all that much more rewarding is the fact that I have four very steep hills I have to climb to get there. Home is the prize at the end of a long and tiring journey.

I feel like people are generally encouraged to be more social than some inherently need to be, and though I make an effort to allow myself to step outside of that expectation when I need to, I often feel bad about it. Being forced to come home to an empty nest is a medicine I never knew. I get to decide when to leave my haven and I don't have to feel bad about it, and that is an amazing gift. I wonder who else has discovered this secret?

And now for something a little more lighthearted.

Only one of these actually apply to me (can you guess which one?), but I thought the video was funny, so here you go. Things that seem normal when you live alone:


  1. I'm pretty sure you don't do that last one, I sure hope not. I'll have to say you the only thing you do is probably eating salad, or the emotion summer storms?!

  2. Glad you are enjoying your solitude. There's a great TED talk on introversion. Have you seen it? Solitude - why I'm going to have my own room when we move.

  3. Michael, nope!

    Heidi, I think I may have seen that TED talk, but I'll have to look it up again. Enjoy your own space! You guys are going to have so much of it. I hope you take the time to just breathe.

  4. When I lived alone, I did the salad thing, but it was more like eating cold peas directly out of the can (peas are healthy independent of their temperature, non?) Also, I had a couch that turned into a bed, which was pretty much always in bed position, since I lived on the 6th floor with no elevator and when deciding at whose place to hang out, mine was never really an option, lol.

    Enjoy the solitude!

  5. Enjoy your space! I love your differentiation between "solitude" and "loneliness." Solitude is something we all desire. I can't say that I've ever lived totally on my own, but there is a lot to be said for having a place of your own to just be yourself and not have to constantly worry about your interactions with others. One of the reasons I loved moving from an upstairs apartment to a house was that we have more space between us and our neighbors.

  6. I am reminded of this book:


  7. I feel exactly the same way. My apartment is just for me, my own little oasis in this crazy world. Occasionally I think I'm going crazy but on the most part, it's where I feel the most comfortable!