Finding Joy In Solitude

“Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.” –Aristotle

Working at home, independently for nearly a decade, I’ve discovered a lot about solitude— especially the stark contrast between being alone versus experiencing loneliness. I’m nonchalant when it comes to flying solo for the duration of my workday; most days, I prefer it. I’m sure, however, that wouldn’t be the case if I were truly lonely. 

When you’re working from home, or anywhere outside of a traditional office, that core sensibility that comes from a shared space working towards a common goal is missing. If you’re not practiced at building yourself up—being the best and brightest you can be exclusively for yourself— it’s so easy for doubt to set in. There is no one to give you a pat on the back or high five— it can feel like its just you against the world— I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt the sentiment, especially early on in my WFH days, of ‘What the fuck am I even doing this for?’

I think it’s especially difficult to be alone, because we’re not taught to sit with ourselves— to find fulfillment from internal instead of external stimuli. In an office setting there is a high probability that you’ll interact with several different people many times over the course of the day— that, in and of itself, assures that you’re unlikely to feel lonely. Even when those interactions annoy you, you’re still in the picture and a part of the action— which feeds our sense of accomplishment. You’re not an outlier; you’re an integral piece of the puzzle.

Try these five mantras to get yourself back on track when you begin to feel less-than-stellar about solitude:

“I, alone, am enough.”

“My work’s worth is measured by its quality; not in praise from other people.”

“Solitude is an opportunity for self-reflection not punishment for a lack of solidarity.”

"Stillness is peace; I’m thankful to be able to rise above workplace chaos.”

“My abilities are the same whether or not I have someone in my vicinity to praise my work.”

There is a seedy underbelly of autonomy that we rarely talk about— that sabotage of not believing that you, alone, are enough.  When you begin to feel that pang of loneliness creeping in— it’s time to assuage the dissatisfaction that’s only a disservice to your true talents and abilities.