By Alessandra Rey 

I believe alone time is sacred and something to be cherished for multiple reasons. I would describe myself as introverted and so naturally love curling up in my room, reading or writing, or even taking myself out for lunch or going on walks. Alone time for me can remedy moments in which I’ve felt overwhelmed and helps me to process my day. It means I can enjoy things without feeling pressured or nervous. 

“There’s a world where I can go /and tell my secrets to / In my room / In my room

In this world I lock out / All my worries and my fears / In my room / In my room

Do my dreaming and my scheming lie awake and pray

Do my crying and my sighing laugh at yesterday

Now it’s dark and I’m alone / But I won’t be afraid / In my room / In my room” 

– Beach Boys, In My Room 

A happy loner in my room…

Two of my favourite musical artists encapsulate vividly and beautifully how I feel about spending time alone. Brian Wilson’s lyrics to The Beach Boys’ song In My Room sensitively depict the feelings of safety, protection and peace of mind found in one’s solitary sanctuary. Amidst the twinkling lull and warming hum, the pangs of incessant worry and fear can be soothed by retreating to one’s sacred space. Similarly, in December 2021, MARINA released a song called Happy Loner. I was overcome with its beauty and how much I related to it: every single lyric resonates. It so delicately and distinctly captures everything I feel, to my very core, on why I enjoy being alone. Sometimes I find my own need for ‘alone time’ perplexing. For so many years, I felt alone and pined for more people in my life to spend time with. However, growing and healing through some prolonged distressing experiences, I continue to realise, personally, just how extraordinarily sacred and important ‘alone time’ can be. 

When the energy and anxiety penetrate…

Oftentimes I feel as though exterior energy can be a little nerve-inducing. Perhaps these very experiences that caused me anguish, occurring concurrently with my longing for more people to share them with, led to my desire to be by myself sometimes. I felt picked on for many years and constantly judged; friendless, bullied, and lonely at school. I think the nature of that protracted experience has led to, to put it plainly, a fear of people sometimes, or rather, a fear of groups of people in ‘cliquey’ environments. As in the songs I love so much, I often become deeply, overpoweringly concerned that I am doing ‘something wrong’ around people, that I will be perceived as ‘bad’ or ‘weird’, something to be laughed at or hated. I feel nervously on alert that I will say something or do something that could offend someone in a miniscule way. It is no one’s fault, other than my own developed hypervigilance.

I am overwhelmingly grateful for the kindest, most extraordinary friends, the women and people in my life. It is a position I never would have foreseen that I would be lucky enough to be blessed in. Despite how incredible these people are, I still can’t help but experience and feel that gnawing anxiety and hypervigilance. This is why being able to retreat into my bedroom comforts of hot water bottles and hot drinks, blankets, books and warming lamps feels like a haven to recharge and breathe. I have the space to work through my anxieties, my fears and my concerns. 

With that being said, in the age of social media, oftentimes the deep panic and concern can be triggered by the bullet of checking Instagram or WhatsApp and seeing your message received but not responded to. No one is obligated to respond immediately, respond at all or like your post, and nor does that instantly mean someone hates you.  However, if anxiety is percolating through your brain from a social gathering or experience, it penetrates your alone time and spirals into a perturbed fixation: your own time and space can be disturbed.  

It is hard to quell intrusive voices, even in the comfort of the college room sanctuary you have attempted to build yourself. However, during those few hours, or in that day or two which I spend reenergizing and finding calm, I find unequalled pleasure amidst life’s hecticness and anxiety-inducing days.

Introversion (and quality over quantity) …

I absolutely and unequivocally identify with the term ‘introvert’. The first term of university pushed me.  This was not in a bad way, as I had a fantastic time, but I wouldn’t describe myself as a partier, I don’t drink (a former teetotaller to now a sip very rarely) and I don’t really go clubbing. I don’t avoid these things whatsoever, and I can enjoy them, but they’re not my preferred way to spend time. Hot chocolates, cosiness, lunches, dinners and movie nights with my close friends are what I cherish! I am a firm believer in quality over quantity with friendship and I treasure the friends whom I trust whole-heartedly, with deeply generous and kind hearts and spirits. I find toxicity or unhealthy friendships thoroughly unbearable and must walk away from them. I cannot stand people who try to tear you down, break your trust, or secretly attempt to sabotage you; it permeates my brain and remains with me. I resort to time alone to regenerate and reconcile with what I’ve perceived as negativity or toxicity, to recharge after social events and to simply enjoy individual activities.  

Mindfulness and appreciating life’s small pleasures…

My time alone often makes room for mindfulness and appreciation of the small pleasures that I am so grateful and privileged to have.  Walking alone in the sunshine, cooking meals, eating good food, reading and writing by yourself are refreshing and calming, and leave space to really luxuriate in the moment. I sometimes find it hard to eat around other people for example, and so the chance to eat alone often leads to me really enjoying and savouring my meal. I love the opportunity to be conscious and present and not feel sensorial overload. Alone time can provide a break from external pressures and allows you to appreciate ‘smaller’ things such as preparing your favourite recipe or watching your favourite Netflix show, as you concurrently deal with concerns, anxieties or pressures alone. There are so many people in the world who don’t have these freedoms because they are deluged with suffocating and difficult circumstances, struggle and pain. I feel so lucky to be able to enjoy alone time and be present to absorb and enjoy these small pleasures. 

Although I feel there are one or two people in my life with whom I could be inextricably joined at the hip and be forever happy, I am firm believer in cherishing alone time. I feel blessed to have opportunities to spend time by myself.  Whether it be because I’ve found a day a bit overwhelming and need to recharge, or because I desire true presence and appreciate the little things, I love time spent alone and will always value it. 

Featured image: The Reading Girl by Edit B Toth.  

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