Believe it or not, living a single life means times of solitude has actually improved my social life! Read on to find out more…
When I reached a place in life where I was comfortable and enjoying living alone, the need for solitude became a necessity for my own well-being. Solitude has not only helped me to create a closer relationship with myself but another huge plus is the positive effect it has on my social life. My social life took a turn after going through a stage very similar to a detoxifying experience. But this time, the detox involved people in my life. It turned out to be a social detox.
Firstly, let’s start with some basics and this is solely based on my own perceptions and experience. In my opinion, there is confusion over what solitude is and how social isolation differs. The terms often get mixed up. It’s understandable though because, on the surface, they can both look quite similar. However, I would say when it comes to our emotions, solitude and social isolation are at opposite ends of the same spectrum when it comes to realising their effects. Social isolation may induce physical and mental states of anxiety and depression. Although, it doesn’t always have to be so extreme.
Imagine a situation where everyone you know is going to a hyped-up social event, except you. The feeling of inner dissonance can stem from a sense of perceived social isolation. Solitude on the other hand, at least for me, brings relief and inner connection. Now, I do not want sound like we either belong to one category or another. Life is fluid and we can experience both to different degrees.
But, the reason for highlighting the ‘mix up’ between solitude and social isolation is because the confusion can lead to false conclusions about solitude. Conclusions, that are in fact, based on ideas around social isolation. Trust me, I’ve been guilty of this myself.
For a long time, I had an extensive social circle and thought to have a cluttered and busy social calendar was the way to go about living and enjoying life. As soon as I hit the point where solitude was my friend and not foe; the structure of my social life changed dramatically and for the better. It was my social detox.
How living alone and solitude improves my social life:
I have a new social standard
Solitude raises the quality of my alone time and therefore, the bar for the company I now keep. My alone time is a competitor to people I regard as friends. Simply put, if you’re unable to keep up with my new found standard, the need to meet up becomes questionable. I mean, it’s quite revealing when the thought of the coffee I’m supposed to enjoy with someone is actually more exciting than the person themselves! I laugh at the times I faked coughing to convince myself I had a valid excuse to cancel without a guilty conscious. Luckily this didn’t apply to everyone I knew.
The common thread running amongst people now excluded from my social life is, I found them to be “energy thieves”. You know the type of friendship when after you say goodbye, you’re left feeling absolutely drained? For some reason, I have attracted a fair number of draining relationships in my life. When solitude became valuable to me, friends who did not bring the same as I did to the table, soon found themselves disappearing from my life. Before I knew it, my life was an intense version of “The Bachelor” where people weren’t getting handed roses.
I break free from autopilot mode
Linked to the new friendship ‘standard’, yet still different is how solitude allows me to scan old patterns. I ask myself why I invest time and effort in some of the people invited to my life. I came to realise for a few, the reason was simply, routine. Having known each other for a long time the foundation for our friendship was based on habit and not much more.
As with smoking, some habits are better left behind. Not always an easy task given our shared history together, but better in the long run. Solitude plays an important part in shaking me up from autopilot mode and steering me towards interactions involving mutually beneficial exchanges and ones encouraging growth. (side note: This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always a smooth ride).
I’m out with the old and in with the new
We are social creatures and undeniably, some of the most pleasurable moments involve being with others. However, I’ve learned to surround myself not with any crowd but with the right one. Solitude for me, cleared out the old to make room for the new. Now, this can look differently. For some, it may imply entry of new folks, but it doesn’t have to change in that form.
While reconstructing my social life, (at least in the beginning), I gave myself more time to deepen my solo relationship and the few friendships left remaining. By the end of my social detox, I now have around a quarter of the friends from my original social circle.
Even though it may seem solitude caused a loss, in my view, it has truly been nothing other than a gain. I choose to focus on the quality of the friendships I have with others, rather than getting stressed over the number. Solitude has helped me make positive progress in my social life as I live solo and lead a single life.
My advice – let’s stop giving solitude a hard time and make the most of it while we’re living alone.