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It's OK to Be Alone

Being a loner is not a bad thing...just be careful that your need to be alone isn't misinterpreted as rudeness. Here's how to balance your need to be alone with maintaining the important relationships in your life.

By
Richie Frieman
4-minute read
Episode #337

Even though I consider myself an extrovert, I absolutely love some quality “me time.” In fact, being a writer calls for lots of lonely hours, which allow me some time for quiet focus. 

Although I don’t wear the loner badge full time, I do sympathize with how often loners receive a bad rap. The loner stigma is a hard one to break. People who enjoy alone time are often misunderstood as being purposely antisocial or even rude.

I’m here to help all the loners out there who require their personal space, but also need to make sure they’re not pushing people away and sabotaging their personal and professional relationships. Here are 3 quick and dirty tips for finding the right balance:

Tip #1: Don’t Make Excuses

Legendary loner, Mark Twain, once said, “Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.” And when it comes to being a loner, I find that many card-carrying members of the club mistakenly deny their fundamental need for alone time.

Take my good friend Jordan who backpacked across Europe for two months solo.  Unlike many other backpackers, Jordan wasn’t interested in meeting people and making friends along the way. In an email exchange during his trip, I asked, “So, did you meet any fun people?” To me, one fun part about traveling the world is getting to meet new and exciting people. But that's not the case for Jordan.

He dined alone, took hikes alone, and relaxed on the beaches for hours on end with no desire for any human interaction.  He replied back to my question saying, “No…I wasn’t really sure what I’d do each day, so didn’t want to get in the way of anyone else’s plans.” After all these years in his own skin, he was still making excuses for his loner ways.

Loners like Jordan often try to dodge the issue of just wanting be alone - as if it’s a crime. But you don't need to make excuses because there is nothing wrong with enjoying your own company. So instead of coming up with white lies about why you don't want to join colleagues for lunch, simply be honest and say, “Thanks but I’m going to grab some coffee and finish this book,” or, “Maybe next week. I was going to take a nice walk outside for my lunch break.” People will respect your candor.

Tip #2: Manage Your Relationships

Although you might enjoy the pleasure of your own company more often than not, the fact is that we live in a social world and therefore, we have to welcome others into our universe (however begrudgingly).

Try looking at this from the opposite perspective. If someone were always surrounded by a ton of people, they’d eventually need some quiet time to decompress. It’s healthy to have a break from your norm, whatever that happens to be. No matter how much you enjoy your alone time, it’s wrong to keep pushing people away.

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