This was #1 on a list of “10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life”, the cover article of the March 12, 2012 edition of Time magazine (US).
According to 2011 census figures, 27% of Canadian households (28% in the US) comprise a family of one. Nice to know I’m no longer part of a pitied minority. The article refers to us as “singletons” but I prefer the term “singlist” – it appeals to my artistic nature and my propensity toward, you guessed it, listmaking.
“Living alone, being alone and feeling lonely are hardly the same thing,” writes author Eric Klinenberg. He observes that “living alone allows us to do what we want, when we want, and on our own terms”. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Estranged spouses, overwhelmed parents of small kids or teenagers – and, of course, introverts like me – are thinking “YES!!!”
Singlists have their own reasons for preferring the solo life. For me, it’s the hectic pace and constant demands of modern life, and my personal preference based on my temperament.
As an introvert, I crave solitude. “Without I-time, an introvert can suffer from distraction, imbalance, exhaustion and irritability. Reserves run dry,” writes Devora Zack in her excellent book Networking for People who Hate Networking. Sound like someone you know? A relative or friend? Or perhaps it’s you? For introverts, too much stimulation and social interaction is overwhelming.
Recent studies indicate that the population is the more closely split between ‘introverts’ and ‘extroverts’ than was once thought; extroverts, of course, believed they were in the majority.
When you think about it, some of us are “connected” for up to 18 hours a day. Commuting to work, being at work, socializing, being online – one way or another, we are engaged with people or other stimuli. For some folks, the only downtime they get is when they’re asleep.
Whether you find yourself on the treadmill of over-connectedness – by choice (because as an extrovert you thrive on it) or by circumstance (because it’s part of your job or lifestyle) – solitary living may be a desirable option. After all, you can always be with people when you CHOOSE to be.
As Eric Klinenberg notes, “there’s nothing lonelier than living with the wrong person.” I’ve done that, too – and being alone by myself beats being lonely with someone else. For those who choose it, “living alone (provides) time and space for restorative solitude.”
What do you think?