/SOLITUDE/ [noun] THE STATE OR SITUATION OF BEING ALONE "she savoured her hours of freedom and solitude"
Last Sunday, on a warm spring afternoon in London, I took a walk to Primrose Hill – a hilly open-space situated north of Regent’s Park, boasting a beautiful view of the city I get to call home. With a calendar running wild and a mind as crowded as the heated train carriage I’m writing these words from, I had a hundred different ways I could’ve (or perhaps, should’ve) been spending my Sunday. Instead, I let my feet take me somewhere quiet, where I could sit on the grass with my nose in a book and feel the sunlight spill through the trees and onto my cheeks.
For as long as I can trace back, I’ve always been a real introvert. If you know my family, they’ll probably share a handful of stories with you from my childhood, recalling the hours I’d spend sitting in the branches of our back-garden tree, head in the clouds and thoughts caught up in the universe of my own crazy imagination. I was one of those little girls who the ‘go to your room’ tactic never really served as a discipline for, because my favourite thing to do was to hang out in my own company.
Flash forward to life as a 23 year old, I may not get to fill the moments of my day-to-day climbing and sitting in trees (as cool as that would be), I still draw and collect a lot of energy from the rest and serenity of my alone time. As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to value these fleeting moments of solitude more than ever before, realising that it’s OK for me to take ownership of my time and prioritise the richest sources of my contentment, guilt-free and FOMO-free. Without diminishing or disregarding connection, relationship or those whom we love, I think there’s a joy to be found in our own independence.
“Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous – to poetry”
Culture today places a weighty value on social status, circles and networks, often causing us to believe that solitude equals loneliness, singleness is a deficit and independence is self-seeking. Although being left alone with our inner-dialogue and chaotic thoughts can be a really scary thing, how much more of a shame would it be if we declined the invitation to get to know ourselves and missed out on enjoying all that this entails? In the spaces of our solitude, creativity can be birthed, ideas conceived and beauty noticed in the world around us.
Consider this: the art of inner-connection is key.
Learn to know and love yourself and your solitude.
Leaving you with one last thought, I’d like to ask you to also consider this: in the same way that we cannot love others well without first loving ourselves, how can we expect to find contentment in the company and nature of others, without first finding and establishing it within ourselves?