Is Solitude Always the Answer?

Confession time: my head & my heart feel like they’re going to explode these days.

I realize that may sound completely ridiculous but that is the best description I can come up with. My head is full of ideas…I feel like I have more ideas than I know what to do with or have the time to process and work through. My heart is full of hope, uncertainty, gratitude, excitement, and everything in between. Describing what’s on my heart is where words seem to be failing me most. These days I’m learning to treasure the times when I sit down in front of my computer or with a pen and my journal and the words just flow. For a brief moment there is some relief.

Having a heart and a head so full makes me want to get away. Not run away, but simply escape for a time to create space to process it all. And I have done just that for parts of days here and there in the last few weeks. But, I’m talking multiple days in a row of processing, decompressing, & renewal. I’m realizing however, that there is a problem: I become more of an extroverted introvert every single day. Every day I find more energy from my interactions with people than from being alone. Every day I find processing with others more productive than doing so alone. Given all of that I’m not sure how productive and refreshing multiple days in a row alone would be for me.

That brings me to the question: is solitude always the best answer? Always necessary? Or is it possible to achieve the same result by escaping with other people? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

With courage, Katie


  1. haha…hey, i won't hold your blog length comments against you :) thanks for sharing. i agree, silence can most definitely be beneficial at times. i regularly sit at home working without music on. i often drive in silence as well. i guess maybe this post stems from the fact that i think a new "trend" in american church culture today seems to be "solitude" or going offline, checking out of the world, alone, for extended amounts of time. i'm not in any way saying this is a bad thing!! but, sometimes i wonder if we built a little more silence into our regular routines, perhaps we wouldn't get to the point where we can't take it anymore and feel like we need to check out for a couple days in order to refocus. i don't know…just a thought.

  2. I’ll get back to you after I’ve had some time alone to think about the answer….

    Solitude is something that is painful and refreshing for me. On our university ministry leadership retreats extended solitude was a big part of our weekends. We’d spending most of the morning and afternoon alone and quiet with guided instructions from the campus ministers.

    Every time I went on the retreat (three or four times) the first session was torture. Being forced into quiet and solitude when life is so full of distractions and noise makes the quiet both difficult to understand and difficult to effectively use. But it was easier in the following sessions and after we would debrief as a group and fellowship between sessions.

    I think purposeful solitude is definitely a useful and effective tool IF your personality allows for it. Some people probably honestly can’t function in solitude and would get nothing out of it. About 90% of the time I’m awake I either have music playing or the TV on. Some days though I’ll come home and forget to turn any noise on after work and will realize I’ve been sitting in silence catching up on things in total silence.

    Silence, or at least aloneness, can help you recharge and refocus. It helps filter out the things that are distractions and helps focus on the important things. Once you’ve cleared your mind of the junk and noise that’s in the way of the important stuff you can be better prepared to talk about the same issues with people and really get some great conversation and ideas flowing.

    Being in a new city and not having people to really share life with outside of work yet has made me realize that maybe I’m more of an extroverted introvert, as you call yourself, than I thought. Having people around to hang out with and just talk life with is sometimes what you need more than you need solitude–especially when you live alone.

    Maybe I should start writing comments that are shorter than your blog posts.

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