Think back for a moment — when was the last time you enjoyed an activity outside the home by yourself? Are you comfortable doing things alone, like going to a restaurant, seeing a movie, or getting coffee?
Humans are social creatures, and undoubtedly, we often prefer to enjoy company with friends and loved ones. No matter whether we are introverts or extroverts, or how much time we like to spend with others in a given day or week — we still desire — and need — a strong connection with our fellow human beings.
There’s no way we can accomplish every single thing in our week with someone else, but think back to my first two questions — do you tend to avoid public meals and activities by yourself? Have you thought about why?
While we may be more comfortable with alone time in public as adults than when we were in middle school or high school, there is still a subconscious stigma in our minds and our society. We’re often embarrassed about not being accompanied by a date or a group of friends everywhere we go — and we usually cope with this by typing or texting on our smartphones, working on our laptops, or even pretending we’re talking on the phone! The problem is, if we’re alone and simultaneously trying to avoid the anxiety of being by ourselves, we’re not enjoying the moment and we’re not getting proper rest to re-energize our minds.
Remote Means “Out of the Way”
If you look up the world “Remote” in the dictionary, you’ll notice a few different definitions, including “out of the way”, “far apart”, “at a distance”, “far off” and “removed”. The fundamental element of remote work is isolation; being away from our peers and clients. It’s a solidarity-intensive way of working, and most people are more than comfortable with completing projects by themselves — and admitting they do so.
While we may supplement with co-op work settings, after-work activities, or weekend parties, we will still be alone, in solitude, most of the time, and there is absolutely no stigma about that, especially among the younger generations. Working from home and alone is a way of life and nothing to be ashamed of. Rather — it’s often celebrated!
And because of the remote lifestyle, you will undoubtedly run errands, eat lunch, and take breaks between projects by yourself. If you pay attention, you may find yourself way more uncomfortable hanging out alone than if you were working alone.
Having Fun and Going out Alone
The problem is that people tend to think it’s less fun to go out and do something fun by themselves. In fact, some people will just work more — and work harder — if they don’t have anything to do. What if your spouse doesn’t like Thai food, or if your best friend doesn’t want to see the new Star Wars movie? Will you forego it and work harder or spend time at home instead?
Even worse — are you refusing to go out and take a break out of your office or work zone because you’re afraid of being alone? Read on — you’ll want to reconsider for your health and happiness!
What People Don’t Think
The truth is, people aren’t looking at us or thinking about us as much as we think. A famous 2000 study by Thomas Gilovich and his team of researchers indicated that people tend to overestimate the extent to which their actions and appearance are noted by others — a phenomenon called the spotlight effect.
Because we are so central to our own worlds, we assume that others are just as engaged in our clothes, our appearance, and our demeanor. This points to the reason why people are so wary to do something by themselves.
Someone will notice me getting a beer by myself and will think I’m a loser! Surely, someone will see me at the screening of King Fu Panda 3 and think I’m a weirdo!
The good news is this is probably not the case — and everyone is just as involved in their own lives as you are in yours. The ketchup stain you had on your cream colored sweater? It’s highly likely that no one at the grocery store noticed it. The way you snorted when you laughed at dinner? You probably thought it was a lot worse than anyone else did.
In Good Company
People also tend to have a good time whether they’re in company or not, according to psychological and sociological researchers. Here are a few more reasons why you may want to consider more leisure time alone:
- Solitude allows you discover yourself and find your own voice.
- Spending time alone provides you time to think deeply, improve concentration, think through problems more clearly, and increase productivity.
- Being by yourself can also help you be a better friend and partner.
Think Differently — Challenge Yourself to Leisurely Solitude
We challenge you to rewire your way of thinking about spending time alone. If you can work remote, you can have fun by yourself — and we encourage you to try it and let us know what you think. Who knows — you may learn something new about yourself and get just as comfortable with remote fun as you are in your remote work environment.
Written by Damian Samolej