General Question

bookish1's avatar

How do you deal with solitude?

Asked by bookish1 (13052 points ) October 20th, 2012

I’m in my third year of graduate school and I feel like I still haven’t figured this one out. I have friends inside and outside of my program, but everyone is so busy that we barely have time to get together for a cup of coffee, let alone spend quality time together. My best friends are in other states or other countries, so we only talk very infrequently.

When I was in high school, I had a regular gang of friends that I saw every day and hung out with every weekend. In college, I had so many friends and buddies that I had trouble finding time to hang out with all of them between class work!

Now, I live alone, and I’m single for longer than I’ve ever been before (and I am doing this intentionally for a number of reasons.) I am an introvert so I need a lot of alone time, but I also get lonely pretty quickly.

I’ve tried to be more outgoing this year, going to more department social events, and also joining a great volunteer job once a week. But I still find myself feeling lonely a great deal of the time, and I would appreciate any cognitive or practical advice on how to view this/deal with this. Thank you.

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21 Answers

janbb's avatar

I’m posting to follow this because this is something I’m struggling with too. As you may not know, I am separated after a very long marriage and while I was alone a lot during my marriage, this is a whole new level. Some nights I am very content with books, DVDs, hot baths and other comfort rituals; some nights, there are too many ghosts in the house and I am lonely. I do find in general that having a plan for my alone time helps; “I will have this treat after supper and watch this movie tonight.” Also, getting busy with a house project helps me feel more fulfilled.

gailcalled's avatar

Milo here; Get a nice, well-behaved and affectionate cat, sort of the anti-MIlo.

Seriously, a classic way for grad. students to feel less lonely is to form study groups. They meet regularly for serious stuff and then, eventually morph into wild poker or hearts games and pizza for twenty. It is easiest to do when you are dealing with the case study method, as business and law school students do.

But still…when my ex-husband was at business school, that is how we were able to socialize. Department social events are fun if you can find two or three people to simply hang out with from time to time.

What about study “dates’ with one other compatible person? Go to the library together or work together in your respective rooms. Two people can happily read quietly for several hours and then have, as @janbb suggests, a nosh and a snack as the reward.

say_what's avatar

I find solitude soothing. Don’t get me wrong, I love people but I am fine with just me also.

gailcalled's avatar

edit; “a nosh and a chat”...

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

There are varying degrees of introversion. Both my partner and I are introverted, but on the scale, he weighs in more heavily than I do. It sounds as if you and I are closer to the same niche on the scale.

So, how to balance out the need for human interaction and still be in control? I like situations where new acquaintances can be made and enough personal information is shared that there is a connection. Then we both part ways after a few minutes. The same is applicable for staying in touch with friends and family through the internet or phone calls.

From a school environment aspect, @gailcalled brings up some viable options. In college, four of us would gather every night after dinner and play Spades for an hour. We were in different classes, different majors, and the time together was limited. If you can find a few people with a similar interest, this may help fill that need without much effort.

Sunny2's avatar

I have realized that when it really comes down to it, I am alone and it’s okay. There’s always something to be done and I wish was better at doing the chores I don’t much like to do but I’m easily distracted. I share my humor and observations with myself and I can make myself laugh at times. I also make lists of things I want to do each day, although it may take 3 days to do them. I do see people, but I don’t have to. When I have to give up singing, I may change my tune.

Coloma's avatar

I cherish my solitude and am rarely bored. I have been single and living alone for 10 years now after divorcing from a long term marriage and I am still as happy as a clam when I have no-thing to do, nowhere to go, nobody to see. I also live on a secluded and peaceful rural property and am quite content to just do my own thing a lot of the time. How one adjusts to solitude is a very individual thing, in my case after being married and raising my daughter I adore having few social responsibilities and no demands on my time and attention.

I probably would not have enjoyed being alone as much in my younger years, but at almost 53 I have to come to enjoy my own company more than anyone else 90% of the time, and this is from a highly extroverted personality, who has mellowed in my mid-life. I don’t want to be around people just for the sake of, if someone doesn’t stimulate and interest me I would rather do my own thing.

Shippy's avatar

I also need a lot of alone time, I rarely feel lonely. But I do get bored. I usually message friends or chat on Yahoo with a couple. Or go onto Bored.com or hang out here. I also clean cupboards and organize them. (When I feel lonely).

Lately I walk to the shop each day. I have loads of “friends” I have made along the way. One is a market street hawker! Highly intelligent and we always have a great chat. Then at the actually shops I chat to a number of people there. I also have good friends too aside from this. But they are busy , with busy lives, so I rarely see them now. I also chat to my neighbors on occasion. Recently a cat adopted me, I am really enjoying her or him not sure. But she’s quite comforting.

I used to do 3D developing which is creative and I can spend hours doing that. I love it. I find if I am engrossed in a task I never get lonely or bored.

Have you thought of starting a book club?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Develop a hobby so you always have something to do when you have no one to do anything with.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

I wasn’t quite sure how to answer this one until my girlfriend chipped in with “Get a cat.”

Not sure if that’s appropriate for you though.

I tinker with photoshop, play games on my pc and check sites I regularly visit – like this one.

I need to get out more.

woodcutter's avatar

I like my alone time a lot. My wife is sick and sleeps a lot during the day which means I’m not really alone but I am . I have to sleep at night because that’s how I am and many times I will stay up as late as I can but I can’t pull all nighters. I have my dogs who are pretty good company and lots of projects all in some level of completeness. And then theres my work when it comes calling. I’m ok with it all. except the sick wife part. That really sucks

phaedryx's avatar

What about joining a local club or group? Some places I’d check are: postings at the local library, meetup.com, or google groups.

That’s were I found the social events I go to each month.

flutherother's avatar

I like solitude and I place more value on it the older I get but sometimes it edges into loneliness which I do not like. I am used to being part of a family and now I live on my own and it has taken some adjusting. I have a lodger, which helps a lot and I work full time but my friends and my children, who I keep in touch with, have their own lives. Making good new friends which seemed so effortless when young now seems impossible to do.

Ela's avatar

I once liked solitude, now I get depressed with it.
In the past, I’d rarely watch tv. But the last few months, I’ve found myself vegging in front of it until the loneliness passes. I can feel that phase passing though and a new one developing.

janbb's avatar

Oh – I thought of another thing that helps me: playing Pandora stations in the evening.

Linda_Owl's avatar

If you opt for a cat, get 2 kittens. Kittens are marvelous at banishing lonely moments, they are highly entertaining, & they grow up into elegant cats. (*Be sure to adopt the kittens from a shelter.)

ucme's avatar

I cherish the rare occasions i’m on my own & I don’t think i’m alone in this view.

deni's avatar

Try not to take life too seriously, and also, yes get a kitten. They are amazing friends and endless entertainment. Kitten and Netflix.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, cats are endlessly entertaining and great little pals.

ETpro's avatar

I am enough of an introvert that I tend to gladly face solitude alone and happy to be so. But I will freely admit that without Spoony THE Cat to keep me company and annoy me, solitude would be more disconcerting.

gailcalled's avatar

@ETpro; Milo here; High four.

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