Reader Submission- Found It In Silence
That title? I didn’t come up with it. HAIM did. If you don’t know who HAIM is then head over to Spotify (or your music service of choice) and give the song a spin. Then come back. Please.
Welcome back! So what’s the big idea? Why did I jack the title from the esteemed Haim Sisters? Because today we’re going to talk about something that people are pretty divided over and that is alone time. Some people love being alone—they thrive even. Other people? Not so much. You’ve got some people who are the total opposite and can’t bear the idea of being stuck with their own thoughts. What’s most unsettling about this is that most of the time they don’t even recognize that this is an issue.
Our alone time is something to truly be treasured. Alone time allows your mind time to sift through the continuing influx of information and experiences that life hands you. For example, let’s assume you have a job in which you interact with people. On this particular day, you had multiple projects due and also had to cater to some of the people around you, which ultimately inhibited the success of your individual projects. It’s a work situation we can all relate to. A natural reaction for a lot of us would be to go home, kick our shoes off, throw on comfy clothes, and just decompress. Sometimes this even looks like talking to yourself and that’s as valid a coping mechanism as any. Because we haven’t had the time to truly reflect on how we feel outside the simple descriptive words like “frustrated” and/or “angry” we can’t begin to understand how to deal with these problems in the future.
A common mistake I see people make too often–and I’m certainly not exempt from this–is that they run into a chronic issue at work or life and they allow the issue to continue but just face it with a fake smile or they exhibit a negative attitude. While one of these things certainly makes you a “bigger person” neither of them are a solution. The most successful people in any relationship, be it work or love, are those who are solution oriented. When we are solution oriented it means we can have productive arguments. Arguments can be good and healthy as much as they can be unhealthy just as long as all parties are seeking a solution. But sometimes to develop a solution, you need…watch us go full circle here…alone time. See that?
People who hop from one partner to the next have become a bit of a dating trope. We all have that friend. You know the one? They can’t stand to be without someone else so they dive from one person to another while desperately pleading the case as to why this latest boo thang is different—more special—than the last. And hell, it could even be true, but for the chronic relationship hopper it is not conducive to individual emotional maturity or growth. It’s all just noise to hide what we’re too afraid to face in the quiet moments where no one is around.
When we get out of a relationship, it is often because something wasn’t working for one or both parties involved. That’s natural and a valid reason to end something insofar as these things had previously been (healthily) communicated through solutions-based conversations. But now that you’re out of the relationship what’s the next play? It’s easy to succumb to the attention and affections of someone who comes swooping in from the sidelines. It’s the same idea as when your dog gets sent to the farm upstate so you just fill its space with a new puppy. You’re masking.
When we “mask” we don’t allow ourselves the time to explore our own headspace. We immediately allow someone else to encroach upon it and thus don’t truly sift through what we, as an individual, could have done in the former relationship that could have caused it to be successful. This isn’t a reflection for the sake of going back to that old thing—though it can be—but rather to ensure your success as a partner in the future. Who are you now? What did you take from that previous relationship that is now a permanent part of you? How will that make you better? All questions to ask as part of cultivating a successful relationship partner from yourself.
Equally important is to understand who you are now as a sole individual separate from relationship specific qualities. You’ve spent X amount of time as part of a team and you need to evaluate what things make you YOU. Pick up a new hobby, strengthen an old one. Go someplace new. Meet brand new people. Get a new hair cut. Explore who you are now versus who you were before and you’ll be surprised by what you find.
The fact is that nothing that makes us who we are as a unique individual can be found in another person. People can enhance us, but they cannot define us and until you define who you are as an individual you’ll always be just a part of someone else. So be alone. Find your truth. Find you, not you and John or Jane Doe. Find you. And don’t be afraid to find it in the silence.