Solitude Is Underrated

If you are lonely when you’re alone, you are in bad company.

Jean-Paul Sartre

   

Solitude is underrated. The other day at lunch, a friend of mine told me about a friend of hers who likes to keep herself very busy. There’s not a moment’s rest in her life as she prefers to fill her days to the brim. She posits that said friend is terrified of being with herself for even an idle moment. That is rather a foreign idea to me. It is not my idea of living life to the fullest. I like to see the glass half empty for the new possibilities, experiences, lessons, people, wisdom, words, thoughts, emotions, and the thrill of the unknown that are about to come pouring in. When full, take a moment to drink it all in, empty the glass and repeat.

But I can understand monophobia (I have once been afraid of the things I might do to myself when alone). Still, I have never loathed solitude. Neither have I felt discomfort in her company. Spending time with myself — especially with age (mine, as I turn 40 next year, and in a larger sense, the world’s digital one) — has become one of life’s biggest luxuries and pleasures to me.

I enjoy eating solo.

I enjoy Netflixing solo — that way I can turn on the subtitles and hit pause 50 times through a movie to jot down my favourite lines without protests from anyone.

I enjoy shopping solo (you tend to end up buying something you like rather than succumbing to something else your friend thinks you look good in.)

I enjoy going to the movies by myself. Sometimes with a big bag of popcorn (sweet, never salty).

I enjoy a solo staycay. I like the bathroom to stay tidy and dry.

I like to arrange my beauty products in perfect alignment, in order of height or in the order in which I use them — neatly on a pristine white towel — and no one is looking at me like I’m crazy. I probably am, but no need to look at me like that.

Alone, I feel liberated. Seldom bored. Never lonely.

In solitude, there’s freedom — to be me, to do and feel as I wish with no need for compromise. Or apology.

There’s silence, so I can hear my own thoughts, unfiltered and unadulterated by friends, colleagues, someone at the next table — and the next — at TWG, or the notorious social media.

There’s stillness, so I can just be. So I can just breathe.

There is no rush.

There’s time to read all the books I keep buying but have not even found a suitable minute to peel the price stickers off, let alone complete them.

In solitude, I am responsible for me and me only. This is how I take care of myself first, so that a better version of me can take care of people that I love.

There’s a chapter in How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are that I’ve bookmarked and revisit often. I like it very much. So I’d like to share an excerpt with you here. Whether you’re a fellow introvert who can’t get enough of ME-time, or if you’re nonplused when you’re plus none, nervous at the very sound of “table for one”, I am quite certain you will find some pleasure in it by the time you’re through.

IN THIS MOMENT, YOU CAN REGAIN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE. FEEL THE BEATING OF YOUR HEART, TAKE A DEEP BREATH, AND LISTEN TO YOURSELF.

      

“You are drinking your coffee alone at a sidewalk café.

You are watching people around you, families, children playing, a young woman engrossed in a book, a lost tourist trying to find his way, a man in a hurry, running to catch his bus, the leaves of the cherry tree above your head.

You have no real reason to be there: you are not meeting anyone, and no one is waiting for you elsewhere. You will stay as long as you like, and leave only when you’re ready. On a whim you can decide what to do and how to do it: there is something a bit dangerous and yet delicious about freedom.

You are anonymous in your own city; no one knows your age, who you are, or what you do for a living. In this moment, you can regain

control of your life. Feel the beating of your heart, take a deep breath, and listen to yourself. Do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Savour these stolen moments. They help you regroup, and belong to no one else. You alone are responsible for what happens to you.

Nowadays more than ever your life is organised like clockwork, everything’s planned, you go from A to B, yet at this instant your phone is off, no one knows what you’re doing or where you are. It’s exciting to break your own habits; you are cheating on yourself, expanding the scope of your possibilities.

Ennui is your secret garden.

And solitude can be a luxury.”

STARRING  //  Twilly d’Hermès, created by Christine Nagel, perfumer/designer, Hermès
PHOTOGRAPHY //  Karman Tse
LOCATION  //  COMO Point Yamu

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored story. The trip was self-funded. The perfume, a gift from Hermès. Merci! x