One is Not the Loneliest Number

one little flower
Image by harold.lloyd (won't somebody think of the bokeh?) via Flickr

After watching a few old episodes of Sex and the City and combing through some of my favorite women’s magazines during some recent alone time, I found it interesting how much being alone — and a woman —  is an issue in our culture.

The magazines are all about finding ways to avoid spending time by one’s self and in the show, Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha are constantly begrudging any solo time.  Even in more recent shows like 30 Rock, Tina Fey‘s character, Liz Lemon, is the butt of lonely, single woman jokes on a weekly basis, while her boss, Jack, spends just as much time alone as a perpetual bachelor and the King of Cool — similar to the role of Mr. Big in Sex and the City.

In other words, things haven’t changed. I’m tired of this notion that women are supposed to always be in groups and pairs. We don’t all have to go to the restroom together! There’s nothing pathetic about being solo while shopping, eating in a restaurant, or at home. Twice in my life I’ve lived alone and honestly, it was nice. I could spend time with people when I wanted, but I could also enjoy having space and time to do whatever.

Now that I’m married, alone time isn’t as common. However, before Thanksgiving my husband went on a trip with his family for three weeks (I couldn’t get the time off from work). This time by myself in our Brooklyn apartment reminded me of living in my cute one bedroom on College Avenue in Berkeley and later, in a Brooklyn Heights studio while I was finishing graduate school.

In both instances I had time to focus on my studies and get some QT with myself.  Reflecting back, I realize that there’s something special about  spending solitary time and balancing your social life with your personal hobbies.  I think it’s healthy and a good way to connect with your goals, interests and anything else that can be pushed aside when you are focusing on friends, family and relationships all the time.

Yes, while my husband was gone I felt lonely at times and had some trouble sleeping at first, but all in all, I found the experience refreshing.  So, next time you are bemoaning some solo time — whether you have a roommate, boyfriend, girlfriend, or not — take advantage of the moment and do something for yourself. You’ll thank you.

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74 thoughts on “One is Not the Loneliest Number

  1. Well said–you’ve struck a chord with so many people who clearly agree with you (myself included)! We all definitely need community, but we all definitely need solitude as well. Maybe the more people talk about it, the more people will see being “alone” at times as essential, as opposed to sad and undesirable. Thanks for starting the dialogue!

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  3. wow…so many advantages of being solitary…i confess i never thought in that front though…may be i’m an escapist…but after reading your’s i will surely give it a try…

  4. GET IT. Well said. Horrible stereotypes. But I will say that to me, the jokes on 30 Rock’s Liz Lemon seem to play on the stereotypes being outdated. Like when Jack tells her she’s afraid of choking alone in her apartment, it plays on her being alone, but on a fear that when it plays out on tv seems really ridiculous (and is shared by a single woman who we see clearly has her shit together). Just a thought.

    GREAT POST!!!

  5. I am entirely grateful for my relationships and enjoy spending time with others. That being said, I absolutely need to have time on my own and am incredibly thankful for truly enjoying my own company.

  6. one can sometimes feel happy and complete in an empty room, as well as one can feel lonely and desperate in a crowded room. it is always about one’s state of mind, or should i say, about one’s state of soul 😉

  7. Beautiful post. I love the topic.

    I’m still fourteen and I can’t call myself a woman yet but I appreciated being lonely long long ago. I love it when nobody could bother you, just you and your thoughts. I prefer shopping alone too. Eating in fast foods rather than with group of friends.

    Scanning more of your posts. 🙂 Congratulations for making it on the front page.

  8. The poll results are amazing. Its good to be alone sometimes but did not realize that so many people out there have the same feeling.

    Great post Christa. Keep up the good work.

  9. This post was pretty amazing I’d have to say. You’re completely right about having alone time. It seems like the world is running too fast in paste and we just need to have our own moments to think about what we are doing. Thank You =]

  10. the title of this blog entry just strikes me …
    😀 Just a co-incidence that i’ve just been through Sex n The City , season by season to deal with leaving home for work….living in a foreign place on my own, and starting a fresh with no girlfriends to hear me!

    😀

  11. yes i agree.
    and some times we need some close friends and family members around us. may be during our hard times. but at the end of the day, the person is you, who stays with the lonely YOU. it gives the best time for self revision, and rearranging your self. and some times we feel so lonely even in the middle of a crowd. so its most important to give sometime to yourself.

    nice article. thanks for sharing.

  12. I have an active social life, tons of friends, and all the rest of it. But at the end of the day, I’m my own best friend. So if you can’t spend time by yourself…that’s sending you a huge message!

  13. This is awesome advice. In this fast paced world people aren’t the only one’s we should pull ourselves away from. Technology is an attention grabber also. I normally spend less than 3 hrs now of watching television, except for when a series of NCIS show’s come on then I have to pry myself from the tube and say by to Gibbs. But solitude and silence is a great way to refresh our minds. Thanks for the post.

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  15. I need to agree to dorkarama’ Life is about balance’ i don’t know how precious it is for me to be alone until i found my self to have to survive alone for sometime..it’s nice to have time to figure out what i really one and not just doing what other think you want..

  16. I just spent the weekend alone, as my husband went out of town on a boy’s trip. I relished in the experience to be in a quiet household and really just focus on my thoughts.
    There are lots of days that I do like to shop alone and do various activities alone.
    There’s a time for companionship and a time to be in solitude.

  17. A very well done blog. You hit on good points!
    I remember the first time I went out to dinner by myself, it was great!! Plus I was also out of state, so a totally new experience! Now I still go out by myself to lunch and smile when the wait person, ask if I’m waiting for someone. I just smile to myself and say no!

  18. So true!

    I love spending QT on my own / with others say, going to yoga class without knowing anybody there, or for a long cup of coffee with a newspaper and my laptop, or for a walk, a bike ride, drawing in the park, writing… Now I dont have a boyfriend but if I do, I want to keep doing these things because they make my individuality and sense of self much stonger.

    Yes, it bugging sometimes to get the odd look if you sit in a table alone or the waiter asks if somebody else is coming along, but I just shake it off with some good music on my mp3.

    Great post!

    – Lisa x

  19. i couldn’t agree with you more. i enjoy my time alone and friends, families & colleagues thinks that it’s such a strange thing to do!

    they look at me in horror when they know i sometimes do things alone (shopping, eating, roaming streets…)

    i guess different strokes for different folks but i think something within you change (for the better) when you are able to hang out with yourself… 🙂

  20. Being alone is certainly under-rated and probably misunderstood. I have a long-term partner but for much of our relationship we haven’t lived together and we both LOVE it this way. We have our own time and we have couple time; we do weekends together and also travel together. But we also have heaps of lone time, which we enjoy very much. And despite loving being a part of a couple, I also look forward to the time we have to ourselves. Being alone can be great for the soul and as others have pointed being alone can make you feel whole. Though my question is: when is to much aloneness too much?

  21. I truly believe most people would rather be with others than to be alone,unless they have something to hide or they enjoy being cut off from the rest of the world.Meeting people and sharing thoughts and experiences is priceless.

  22. I cherish my time alone. It is cathartic. Spending time with oneself is a way to re-group and re-charge.

    There are so many demands on our time, carving out a slice for ourselves, about ourselves is a must.

    I wish more women (& men) would make the time to be with themselves to peel back the layers of life and open up the to the personal truths that help us grow and find balance.

  23. insightful post,
    the society has stereotypes about women in general, but as a woman, I enjoy time alone a lot,
    thank you for the thoughtful thoughts shared.
    😉

  24. Thanks for writing this! It’s so true about our culture. I do things alone all the time, but it seems society thinks that’s “antisocial.” The first thing that people usually ask me when I say I went somewhere (even just shopping or something simple like that) is “Who did you go with?” This is something that will have to change slowly. I mean, the 50s weren’t *that* long ago.

  25. The goal I think, is to reach a healthy balance between alone and social times. Your greatest moments may be when you are alone, but it becomes hard when one has no control over it. Great post 🙂

    – Kloé

  26. I love how you came up with this by simply doing what I do on a day to day regular basis.. why are they doing this to us anyway? being alone is just as fine!

  27. Without those solitary moments I would go nuts, which is probably why I chose to work from home. As much as I am a social creature, I love being by myself more.

  28. This is a really interesting topic. I know I used to have difficulties with being alone, always wanting to be in a relationship. I went through this for such a long time, but had to break free for my sanity.

    I think it’s really important we discuss issues such as this, especially since Valentine’s Day is around the corner. I also think it’s deeper then not wanting to be alone…for me, mine lay within my insecurities of feeling abandoned and not being beautiful.

  29. I randomly found your blog and I dig it.
    As for this piece, it’s a great insight into a dilemma that women face.
    I think that a lot of the problem stems from men, of course. A lot of men crave having someone/something in their life to NEED them. That’s why dog is “MAN’S best friend”.
    But of course, so many men whine about being “smothered” if a woman exhibits her dependency on that man.
    It is completely hypocritical and a total mind-fuck for women.

  30. Its great to hear that from one of you! Your gender is pushed so hard to socialize, shack up, get married, be so completely codependent that some women are just shallow embodiments of this attitude. Its always good to hear from an enlightened woman that knows who she is!

  31. Hi Christa,
    I found your blog on the wordpress home page.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the way our society looks at being alone. Truly one can be alone and happy and sometimes one can be in the middle of many and feel sad. It is about how we perceive our world around us and how we respond to society’s norms. You clearly understand this.

    It is always good to see someone is getting the word out about how it is okay to spend time alone. To me when I have time alone (typically in the mountains) it is like the space between the notes in music – refreshing as always.
    Thanks again for sharing and helping remind people time alone is an important part of living.
    Cheers,
    David
    http://www.TheWonderTechnique.com

  32. I think that the important key point here is that you are never alone, you are with yourself. Nobody knows you better. Alone (that not loneliness), is just a word and there are too many people and the world is that big that for when you think of that word and you’ve found someone.
    Does make sense?

  33. I love this post! It’s great. I live alone and enjoy it so much. I love my friends but it’s great to be in complete control of the time I have and not have my quiet time contingent upon others. Thanks for sharing your point of view!

  34. Great post! As a married mom with 2 small kids, a full-time job and a photography business, I relish those alone moments. They don’t come often enough and I have no problem when the husband and kids have something to do other than hang out with me. 😉

  35. What a refreshing post – I agree so much. I have a home-based business and my husband has to commute to work so there never is a time when he and I can go out for lunch together…I enjoy taking myself out to a nice lunch from time-to-time. And I do enjoy shopping solo. Also, I’m an artist and writer so my work is even solitary. Yes, there is nothing that says women need constant daily companionship to feel content. I love the comment about not having to go to the restroom as a group! That’s so junior high.

    1. I’ve never understood why there are women who go to the bathroom in packs and how it is that it became such a … stereotype? cliche?

      I’d like to think that a decade into the 21st century, women who are unmarried (or not dating) can choose to be so without the “spinster” label.

  36. Love this!

    I recently moved from the area I lived in for 12 years back to my hometown, where I now know almost no one. While I miss my friends, I love not having to worry about people “popping by” unannounced.

  37. Great post. People need to understand that alone does not mean lonely. In the same way women need to understand that being alone does not mean you are more independent or ‘modern’ than women with partners.
    Have fun blogging

  38. This caught my eye. There is definitely a stigma about women who live alone. I really think it places undue burden and pressure to shack up and get married. Who needs it?

    I myself live alone. And, I have a wonderful relationship and a good social life. Alone does not = lonely. Thanks for this post.

  39. I agree, alone time every now and then is refreshing to the soul. However, I disagree that this is something we need to push in order to “get equal” with men. Maybe, plain and simply, we are all created and designed to not be alone; to share our life with someone. I think even men feel this, although society encourages them to believe independence is the ideal situation. Rather then women push for independence and solitude, we should start encouraging and supporting the men who already recognize their need for a companion.

    Good article!

  40. LOVE THIS!!!
    I love being alone and I love being with people. But there are times that you HAVE to get away from everyone and have some quality ME TIME!

  41. Nice post. Despite women’s lib and all this so-called equality it’s still very difficult to be an independent woman while male loner’s tend to have a certain allure to them. Along these lines I’m currently reading “Party of One: The Loner’s Manifesto” by Anneli Rufus… it’s too soon to form too much of an opinion on it but it brings up some interesting points about society and our take on being ‘alone.’

  42. I love being alone (probably a little too much, like conradvisionquest). If I don’t get an adequate amount of Alone Time each day I get anxious and bitchy.

    I’d like a family some day, but when that happens I will have to have a Panic Room for when my need to be alone becomes overwhelming. 🙂

  43. Life is about balance – too much time alone is as bad as not time to yourself. The trick is finding the happy medium. Incidentally, if anyone has found the formula for happiness, please let me know.

  44. Love it! I’ve been living by myself for 2 1/2 years now, and it’s been such a liberation. Of course there’s the consideration of moving in with HIM, but then again it’s wonderful to be able to leave things lying on the floor and pick them up whenever. Love being alone with candles, a good book, music, a film, knitting or a bath. AND I love being with people. The media just don’t get that being alone is not the same as being lonely. Thanks for bringing that up – worth having a discussion about!

  45. I love living alone. My boyfriend is busy with his new Private Equity firm. I see him every other weekend. I spend my “alone” time going to movies (yes — alone!), wandering around the shops, writing, cooking… And I feel very complete and whole.

    1. Watching movies alone is so great! I’m glad you have the space you need for the special time with yourself. It’s also nice having a boyfriend who gets it. Very cool.

  46. Hey! I really like this post of yours. The notion that women always have to be in groups is a form of gender norms that society has bred in most people. Furthermore, the media(as mentioned) often mis-portray how women should be like. Being alone at times is indeed a form of solace. It is time to be alone with oneself. And ironically, with our thoughts with us, we are never alone.

    Love
    Jacq

    1. I hear ya, stereotypes are the worst. Women face so many gender norms that just aren’t true, promoting the sexist things we try to avoid. Thanks so much for your insight.

  47. Totally agree! I love alone time and I don’t get people who always need to surround themselves with others. I like people, don’t get me wrong, but I require at least an hour of loner time everyday to function.

    When my hubby goes on a week or two long trip, I use that time to decompress. Now the year he was gone was a little different and apart from wishing I could share the highlights with him, it wasn’t terribly bad.

    Good post!

  48. I think it’s kind of a culture thing, that most people are afraid to be alone. But alone time is very important to the creative person, for example, an artist or a writer. It’s a time to meditate, reflect, and grow.
    We need to balance our “alone time” and “social time.”
    Good article!

  49. I love living alone!! I LOVE IT!!! Almost too much…especially as a writer, oh my gosh, just being able to hide away without distraction is so amazing…I know I have to give it up soon because it’s going on over a year now though…I do want to be married or shacking up again at some point…I don’t want to get so stuck in my ways, but in the meantime, what’s not to love about solitary but too much time alone can make a person WEIRD, you gotta admit! LOL

    Thanks for a great post!

    1. As writers I think we need alone time to spawn creativity. However, as you said, too much CAN be too much. Balance is key.

      P.S. I’m digging your blog and your laid back review of “The Limit.” I really like writers who can edit well too.

  50. Maybe sometimes people feel lonely and have a great desire to have someone to be with,just because other people is not that alone.

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