Despite growing up in London (infamous for it’s don’t make eye contact or look like you might want to engage with other people approach to life) I am the first to strike up a conversation in a queue. Leave me in the company of stranger and I’ll have them telling me their life story before you’ve managed to catch their name. Parties and celebrations; I’m there making sure the nibbles are plentiful and the small talk is in full flow.
Yet as much as I love a good natter, I really value solitude. The blissful silence that comes with an empty house. The freedom to just be. Joyous peace and quiet.
My children do 2.5 days at nursery each week. It’s time for me to work, but it’s also the chance to refuel. A bank of hours spent alone to re-energise me for the demands that come with being a busy mum/wife/friend/business owner…
This need to withdraw isn’t new. I grew up as the eldest of three, in a 3-bed London flat, sharing a bedroom with my younger sister until I was in my early twenties. I spent hours dreaming up ways I could partition our room to try and procure a bit of private space (without success!). Instead, I used to regularly squirrel myself away of an evening, choosing to read or draw in bed instead of sitting with the rest of the family in the living room. Not a reflection on them, but an actual need to just be in my own company.
This week I’m officially depleted. It was Matilda’s fourth birthday over the May Bank Holiday (cue a house full of small kids and a visit from a Disney Princess) and we’d booked a Center Parcs staycation for the rest of last week. Almost two weeks of constant companionship and conversation and my reserves are dry. We had a wonderful trip - and of course, I’ve loved the family time - but I’m eagerly anticipating the calm and quietude that comes with the routine of work and nursery.
It can feel selfish and unsociable to voice this desire to be solo. And for people who are energised by the company of others, it can be hard to understand. For those of us who thrive after a bit of time to ourselves though, it’s an act of self-care. Seek out solitude - as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.