“It’s always better to be alone than to wish you were.” – Stephen Hensley
“I love tranquil solitude and such society as is quiet, wise, and good.” – Percy Bysshe Shelley
By: Linton Weeks, National Correspondent, NPR Digital News
“At a time when too many people are feeling hyper-connected, overstimulated, too busy and too hassled, what could be more dreamy than spending an entire day completely on your own, doing whatever you want, whenever you want?” says Bella DePaulo, who teaches psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and is the author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. “Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that are highly scripted. You are supposed to spend it with other people — especially with family. All jokes and sitcoms aside, you are supposed to want to spend it that way.”
But a lot of Americans are celebrating by themselves because of demanding jobs, challenging schoolwork, family tensions or the expense of travel. Some don’t care for all the dinner-table questions people ask, or the political talk, or the meat-and-sweet potatoes menu, or the lame jokes; some people prefer going on nature hikes or biking or snowboarding or strolling around empty cityscapes on Thanksgiving Day. A few are even crossing over to Canada, where it’s just another Thursday.
Some people simply find it easier to be alone. “I’m a very busy divorced mom and business owner,” says Delaine Due of Ashland, Ore. “A few years ago, I started giving myself an artist’s meditation retreat on Thanksgiving weekends when my child is with his dad’s family. It’s as if I’m single and in art college again.” Due says she enjoys, for the brief time, being in control of her environment. “I get to choose the wine, the materials, the music, the food, without ever having to ask anyone else’s permission.”
Mackenzi Johnson works in merchandising in Nashville, Tenn. Her family will be convening many hours away in Northeast Ohio. “The distance, the insane traffic and the logistics of loading the four dogs into a station wagon makes staying home for Thanksgiving a much more attractive option,” Johnson says. “I haven’t come up with anything for dinner yet, but I’ve got the version ofCompany with Neil Patrick Harris and Stephen Colbert.” She says she realizes the irony of watching Company.
“There’s a dive bar around the corner that usually opens Thanksgiving night, and they have karaoke,” Johnson says. “I might brush up on the lyrics to All by Myself.”
Living in San Francisco, Joel Goldfarb doesn’t have any relatives nearby. “I’m a single gay man, 49. My parents are deceased,” he says. “Friends typically have other plans. I don’t want anyone taking pity on me, so I don’t tell anyone I’m going to be alone. I hate the feeling but somehow survive it.”
Laura Thornton, a student at the University of Chicago Law School, says some of her friends have invited her to spend the holiday with them. “But I never liked Thanksgiving much anyway, so I’d prefer to spend it alone.”
Her plan, she says, is to “just chill out with my dog and drink whiskey in my apartment, like I did last Thanksgiving. Sometimes I find it hard to take time out for myself, so it’s actually kind of nice to have this time imposed on me. Plus, hopefully I’ll get a lot of work done.”
According to Sandra Guzman, being alone doesn’t mean being lonely, and there are many benefits that can come from being alone.
By: Sandra Guzman
Time takes on a different meaning:
You will learn to guard your time jealously. To set parameters better, demarcation lines of whom you will or will not accept in your life. Your relationships will be upgraded.I curate my friends more carefully, including my intimate relationships, because I don’t want to waste it with mediocrity. During moments when I’ve been in groups and I am not having a blast, I think to myself–I could be reading, or watching a documentary, or sleeping, or dancing–and having a spectacular time sola!
Your relationships with others improve:
The funny thing is, the more you love being with you, the more you will also enjoy the time you share with others. It’s almost as if being with you opens up your heart to welcome the world. But you do this with a deeper understanding of quality connections.
You perfect your craft:
Davis (video above) is right when she says that being alone can give you time to perfect your craft.
Artists–and by that I mean every living human being–need time to perfect their art. Whether it’s cooking, sewing, painting, gardening, singing, writing, acting, frisbee throwing– alone time is your time to do you–to perfecting you. Your craft urges you to be alone. Enjoy. Create.
Being alone will allow you to get to know you better, and in the process become a better you, a better friend, lover, mother, daughther.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING! – psyche & society
Photo Credit: Super Junk on Flickr