On solitude

When I grew up I loved to sit in my room, play the piano, read, write, draw. Sometimes I played with friends. I had friends. But I didn´t have a strong need to be with them. I liked people. I liked my friends. And I loved myself. I could be with myself for a long time without missing friends. Two months during summer, my family spent time in our summer house in the country. I mostly spent time with family. I never missed friends. I had my brother. He was my friend. And I had myself. I was my own playmate, and I didn´t have a hard time coming up with things to do. As the years passed by, I started to get more and more involved in other peoples lives. I started to actually like the idea of friends, and I started to like being with friends more than I had before. As a young adult, I found some really great friends. During a couple of years, I spent a lot of time with them, going out in bars, meeting in cafés, even living together. But I noticed a difference between me and other people. When other people wanted to hang out the whole day, I was satisfied after two hours and wanted to go home. When other people said that they didn´t know what to do and wanted to hang out, I never fully understood this feeling. I´ve always needed much time alone. To charge my batteries. To think. To be creative. I always have something that I want to do. Something that demands my time and full focus. I never get restless.

When my phone rings, I feel stress. I have never liked the sound of a phone ringing. So often, I am focused on something that I´m doing at home, and I feel disturbed by the signal of my phone. If I´m outside, working or meeting someone, it´s much easier. It´s as if I can switch something to on and off. If my social switch is set to off, it can be hard to answer the phone. Many times I let it ring and hope that the person will send me a text message instead. If I´m in my social mode, it feels easy to answer the phone. Most often, I´m not in my social mode. This has led to conflict with some people who feel offended by my need to withdraw and charge my batteries alone.

For a long time, I felt that it was something wrong with me. Therefore, I tried very hard to be ”correct”. I answered my phone all the time, and I tried to be ”a good friend”. I was afraid that other people would be mad at me, angry at me for acting the ”wrong” way and not being as a friend ”should” be. This feeling is so sad, because to me a true friendship is built on love, and if you love someone you often try hard to understand each other. This is a big part of my personality. I can´t hide that I love spending time with myself, and I can´t help that I feel tired after meeting people and that I maybe want the rest of the week to be still and quiet.

When I found my true passion, I started to accept this side of my personality and understand it more. I realized that I´m drawn to a profession where I can work on my own, because that´s what I love to do. I´ve never been a fan of working in groups. I have never felt the need to have a job in order to belong to a group. When I found my passion, it became even more important to take the time to create. I could no longer hang out with friends as much as I had done. Now I needed the time to take photographs, edit them and post them to the internet. For some reason, it felt easier to explain to other people what I was doing since I found photography. Now I had a very clear reason for needing time alone- I needed to work on my photography. But everything is a balance. I still need my friends. I have always needed them. To me, it´s so easy to step into the inner world and the world of creativity and imagination, that I need to drag myself out of there, force myself to get out into the world and meet people. Solitude can turn into isolation,  at least if you´re similar to my personality. This is something that I struggle with. I´ve made many pictures about this: Serenade for solitude, and my whole series Finding Peace, in which I use a bubble to symbolize integrity and isolation.

We live in a society that wants us to be outgoing and active. I´m not socially awkward, I find it easy to talk to people. I love meeting people and hearing their stories! But I have a strong need to be still, get time to think and work on my own. Sometimes I´ve felt that I should spend more time with friends and less time in my own world. That I should arrange big dinners for ten people and have parties. But I know that I wouldn´t feel whole as a person if I didn´t listen to my inner voice that tells me to create. It´s so important to accept who you are, and the first step towards acceptance is by understanding who you are and how you work. It´s nothing wrong with needing time for yourself. Lately, I´ve also read several articles and books on this topic. If you´re interested in this topic, you should read the book ”Quiet- The power of introverts” by Susan Cain. She talks about introverts and extroverts. Introverts gain power by being alone (as I do) and extroverts gain power by meeting other people. Introverts like best to meet one friend at  a time, talking about deep stuff (me!) and extroverts like more to hang out with lots of friends. Most people are a little bit of both, and so am I (I love parties!) but I found it extremely helpful to read about this stuff and to get a better understanding for myself.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Maybe you have a friend like me, or you are just like me? Write a comment and share what you think!

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