The Art of Enjoying Solitude

Monday, February 15, 2021


There is something enticing about being in my own company, or perhaps with a silent four-legged partner, walking down a dirt path. I can hear and feel the crunch of the gravel beneath my shoes, the wind whispering through the trees, and the sun peeking out from behind the leaves. At that moment, the rest of the world washes away while I contemplate and organize the thoughts busy in my mind or wash them away with the music from my earbuds. The moment is mine entirely and nothing else matters. I ponder over the complexities of existence dipping my metaphorical toes into existential ideas while attempting to hold on to the literality of life. Or maybe, I am sitting bundled up in my blanket cocoon with a book in my lap immersed in a world so fascinatingly different from mine filled with characters who are now a part of my being as I savor each page that my eyes scan. As I put my book away, both mourning and rejoicing in the ending of another world, I bask in the soothing quiet, and cozy surroundings. These moments are special and integral to my well-being.

    Even when my family of four lived in a tiny two-bedroom apartment, I would search for my pockets of escape so that I had my alone time during which I could escape into my through a novel or my own imagination. My mind would be free to unravel its thoughts and ideas to entropic proportions to the point where it almost mimicked an out-of-body experience. My favorite space was the top bunk bed in the bedroom I shared with my sister. 

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

    Learning to be content in solitude comes easier to some than others because of several factors. There is a level of contentment and peace that can only be achieved when in the presence of no one but yourself. For some, this behavior requires training before it becomes a habit. We are sometimes so encased and entwined in the lives of those who surround us that we forget what it is like to be all alone and if we do find ourselves in that situation, we are not sure what to do with ourselves. Having said that, everyone has different requirements from what they need in their life and this may not pertain to all. The most difficult is when loneliness may be forced on an individual who is out searching for companionship. In that instance, it can become a prison and may be perceived as a negative. 

    This is for those who want to find a way to incorporate some quality time with just themselves into their busy lives. In my culture, females are rarely alone because their role in life is to manage the family. For the married who integrated into an extended family situation, the desire to be alone may be taken as an insult or with suspicion as to why the bride does not wish to spend time with others or does not include others in her activities. There is no such thing as personal space and finding time with the husband alone may even become a challenge. 

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

    Before we bind ourselves to relationships, as children we gradually create our own unique personality with personal interests that go beyond the daily necessities and responsibilities that we pick up along the way. It is important to never let go of what we once enjoyed just because life packed on more duties on our shoulders. When figuring out what to even do if given time to ourselves, look back and see what did you let go in the name of growing up and being an adult. Do you still give time to hobbies, books, or shows that help you relax or unwind? Maybe all that is needed is time to close your eyes and nap or meditate to help dissolve the business of the daily grind. There is something each of us can pull out from among ourselves and give as a gift to the self. Find out what you would prefer to do and begin finding ways to allot time in your busy schedule. This is more important than ever as we find ourselves contained within the four walls of our homes with a little escape from each other because of a pandemic. Even though my husband and I live in a small two-bedroom apartment, we created separate workspaces in which we work and meet during lunch or small breaks taken throughout the day. Even when we are relaxing on the weekends, sometimes we choose to relax in different ways and pick different areas of our tiny home for this away from each other. We love the company of the other but sometimes I enjoy getting lost in my book wrapped in my blanket on the bed while my husband enjoys watching shows or movies on the couch in the living room. Sometimes, I will play video games on the Nintendo Switch while sitting next to my husband as he watches tv but I am so engrossed in my visual adventure that I am transported away from my physical location. Even this uninterrupted time becomes a space of solitude because I am fully engrossed in my present task from which I am randomly pulled out of as I squeak in excitement because of the thrill of the game and share the moment with my husband. 

    As you can see, there are many ways to incorporate this special time in your day and sometimes it can require some creativity. I know with young children it is impossible to escape each other in a small space but in that instance, while your kids are working or playing immersed in their activities, there may be time to find something you are able to do as well. They are your pockets of contentment dispersed with the 24 hours of your crazy day. However, these changes will not occur organically within your life and you will need to create some form of a schedule to incorporate your time. This will be a challenge, albeit a rewarding one that will transform your life and mental health. Consider this a new project for yourself and tackle it in small steps. Some days you will be able to work on it more than others but it is important to be persistent. The positive aspect of having a schedule will be that your kids will understand that this is "mommy time" and will also learn to accept it as part of their daily routine. If they are old enough, they can learn the importance of having personally scheduled time within their routine as well. There are many ways to mould this to suit you because that is who it for, you. 

Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

    It is absolutely crucial to remember that you are doing this for your happiness and peace because it may become frustrating forcing something within your routine in times when it is difficult. Let every day be a new start and understand that lifestyle changes do not happen overnight. Constant practice will eventually make it a habit. We all have different requirements from life and we work towards the goals society sets for us but forget that we have our own wishes and needs as well. Giving yourself time to breathe, relax and just be alive for a moment doing something or just closing your eyes, will always be a positive moment. 

    As Pakistani immigrant women, we learn to rebuild our identities with those whom we live with so that we can better accommodate others and keep them happy and learn that focusing on ourselves is selfish. We begin to compromise in so many areas that we don't remember who we were before the new role came into our lives. As this continues to happen, we eventually become a shell of who we are and the suppression leads to an array of mental health conditions. Even though it may not have been before, we have entered the era of choice despite the incredible resistance from our elders. Living among different cultures enabled us to observe different ways people live their lives and question our own practices. Although this may be viewed as rebellious, the unknown is daunting for those who have learned to live their lives without question and enable the continuation of detrimental behaviors. It is challenging and sometimes painful for our elders to see the newer generations have a semblance of control over their lives and they retaliate against it because why should you have it easy when they suffered so much for us? 

    The pursuit of peace means being ready to make changes and breaking centuries-old prejudices even if there are those around us who disagree. Life is an ever-learning process of mistakes and achievements and you have not failed until you give up and stop moving forward. There is no one answer or equation within which we can fit every single one of you but there is a myriad of different options from which to pick and choose to find the ones that fit you best. Fulfillment and purpose may be in serving the family and progressing through life within the standards society has set for us but it may also come from picking up that book collecting dust on your shelf from several years ago, going for a swim, meditating, and laying a blanket on the soft grass on a warm summer's night away from all the city lights and watching the stars twinkle above you while you contemplate the vastness and mysteries of the universe. 

Until Next Time,

Intro photo by Jake Melara on Unsplash


  1. Loved this post. Me time is precious time and so important for ones mental health. Thanks for encouraging all of us

  2. I agree! This time last year was eye opening for how overscheduled I was. Taking to the woods was so refreshing.


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