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The benefits of being alone

The benefits of being alone

As human beings, we are inherently social creatures. How could we have built the pyramids or traveled to the moon without a little bit of teamwork? Our mastery of communication is what has gotten us to the top of the food chain, despite our frail bodies and lack of claws (imagine a world where bears invented machine guns and motorcycles). Like most things, however, social interaction is best enjoyed in moderation.

Have you ever been stuck in a car with one or more people for a significant amount of time? Did they insist upon telling you stories that ended with, “You had to be there”? If you’re anything like me, you probably wanted to strangle them with their seat belt by the time you reached your destination.

There are some serious benefits to setting aside a little bit of time each day to be away from other people, even if it’s just for half an hour.

Relaxation is one of the more obvious benefits. We all relax in different ways, and there’s nothing wrong with being a little selfish in one’s choice of activity. Some people like to curl up and read a book, while others enjoy fishing.  Some people even like to have leeches suck “the poisons” out of their bodies for hours on end (seriously, look it up). The time belongs to you, and it’s your job to use it selfishly.

Learning is another benefit, and I’m not talking about the school kind. Eau Claire is full of intelligent individuals, and a person needn’t look far for help whenever it is needed. Knowledge is a wonderful thing to be surrounded by, but there is something to be said for the skill of learning something on one’s own.

For example, I once decided to make myself a ramp out of wood so I could get some air on my new mountain bike. I quickly learned (the hard way) that nails and duct tape are no match for the force that a 40-pound bike and an 80-pound middle schooler are able to exert. Had I asked someone to build me a ramp, I may have found a safer way to satisfy my need for a rush, but I never would have learned to figure out the right way on my own.

Alone time forces people to get creative, to do things in a way nobody has thought of before. I’m willing to bet that Jimi Hendrix didn’t master the electric guitar by hanging out with friends or texting cute girls. We all have a unique set of experiences, and if we decide to create something on our own, that thing will likely be different than anything else out there.

Time alone is like a reset button. It’s an opportunity for self-reflection and honesty. If you never spend any time alone, how are you ever going to get to know yourself? Go ahead and read that book or go for that run. You’ll appreciate being around people even more once you’re done.

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