The Importance Of Solitude

Reminiscing on my childhood, I recall enjoying time by myself, creating alternate realities, and allowing my imagination to soar. I was a cheerful child with friends, but I also was never unsettled with being alone in my room for hours on end. As I grew older, I would seek solitude, or moreover, the sense of relief it gave me. I would often find myself yearning for a moment to be a recluse, which was an unfavorable choice for someone who was married and supposed to be sharing this life with another person. I would get easily overwhelmed with feelings of suffocation which lead to anger, depression, and hostility. This could have been avoided if I just allowed myself to be alone when I needed to be. 
I would try to describe to loved ones that I needed my solidarity to recharge and bring the best version of myself back to them, but it often was misconstrued, and taken as a direct insult. It wasn’t until I started reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron that it all became crystal clear - the artist in me needed alone time to thrive. I was becoming depleted by the demands of everyone else and completely ignoring my internal calling. It led to the destruction of many of my relationships. Once I firmly stood up to friends, family, and lovers, my creative-self flourished and I no longer felt trapped. 
In order to be my most authentic self, my soul required alone time. I didn’t allow guilt to interfere. Often, we see mothers who skip out on doing something for themselves because it conflicts with their children’s schedules, or a man who spent all day tirelessly working at the office who just wants to get home, pour himself a drink, and sit in silence, refusing to honor that internal request because his wife is expecting conversation over dinner. Afraid to appear selfish, we put our needs to the side and show up for those we love. Inevitably we suffer and less than appealing traits start to come to the forefront. 
A creative individual’s need to be alone is equal to the basic needs Maslow introduced in his hierarchy- a theory depicting certain needs be attended to, before one can fulfill anything else. We cannot operate to our full potential without solitude, just as those who are deprived of shelter, food, and water are unable to thrive. It may seem a little disproportionate or over-reactive to compare the two, but the truth is, the artist begins to self-destruct and sabotage their capability to produce great work when they undervalue their need to be alone. 
In part of reclaiming my life, I vowed to honor what my mind and body were telling me. So much of our lives are taken up by commitments and obligations to others which drain us instead of feeding the fire that ignites our soul’s calling. I was no longer going to be a victim of that vicious cycle, and the people in my circle needed to understand that my alone time was my priority. It is time we stop saying no to ourselves and yes to others. 
It is crucial we start asking ourselves what are my needs and then, start fulfilling them. The employee who skips the gym to spend more time working on a project or the woman who declines a much need girls-night out in fear of leaving her partner alone is not only doing a disservice to themselves, but to everyone they encounter. They subconsciously hold on to the fact that they ignored important moments for themselves to serve someone else, and eventually, that boils to the surface. Some people require less solitude than others; my only request is that others honor those who need to retract, because it is such a vital part of life. Due to the destruction that evolves when I am not true to myself, I ensure I carve out “me” time. If you are having a hard time making yourself a priority, taking care of yourself, or doing what truly makes you happy, it’s time to have an intervention with your inner self. Never feel guilty for wanting to be alone or for taking time off do absolutely nothing - it is your soul speaking out, and your job is to protect and nurture that creative child within. 

Ashton Saldanaalone