Isolation vs Solitude


Solitude: the quality or state of being alone or remote from society; a lonely place (such as the desert)

Isolate: to set apart from others; to select from among others, especially to separate from another substance so as to obtain pure or in a free state; being alone; an individual socially withdrawn or removed from society

Solitude lets the enormity of our brainscape roam free. solitude allows our most sensitive feelings and memories and self-judgments to surface. Solitude frees us from what psychiatric science calls the spotlight effect: the tendency that we have in public to overestimate the attention others pay to our accomplishments, our errors, our appearance, and the words that come out of our mouths. Solitude unshackles us from the compulsion (for some, an addiction) to curate and display our lives on social media, thus allowing our interactions with ourselves, others, and the natural world to be entirely what they are in themselves, not superimposed upon an artificial narrative for which we seek validation and approval. Solitude allows our brains to form interconnected neural root strands beyond those we typically utilize.

Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

My whole life I have always preferred solitude. Maybe that was part of my mental health issues, but even so. When I was growing up, I don’t remember ever having people spend the night at my house. I don’t remember going to anyone’s house to spend the night. My birthday is in the middle of summer so I never had friends from school for my birthday party. It never bothered me either. I didn’t mind it. My birthday is two days after my sister’s so for many years we shared parties. For even more years we were always with family. (I know that sounds pathetic probably, but at the time I really didn’t mind or feel bad about it.)

It is important to distinguish between positive solitude and unwanted isolation. To be beneficial, solitude must be willingly chosen, and there has to be an out-the option of returning to societal life if needed or wanted. The effects of chronic social isolation are grim, including a 26 percent higher mortality rate for people isolated from human company due to life circumstances than those who live with a modicum of human company

Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

The thing is, I was okay with solitude. But now after so much solitude, it’s turned into isolation. During the pandemic, it’s been nice for me because I’m lucky in my situation. I don’t have to go to work. I did online schooling. I still live with my parents so I don’t worry about groceries. I know I’m lucky. I know I am, but it didn’t turn out so well for me because I never had to go out, so now my anxiety is worse. It’s a struggle for me to go outside. That is not good for someone who wants to move away for graduate school for my masters. I have to be able to get out and go places. I know that I’m an introvert though, so even as I force myself to go out, I have to remember to give myself permission and space to be in a positive, healthy solitude.

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