Parkinson’s has taught me that stillness and solitude work wonders for my health; this breathing space allows me to recover from the daily grind of spinning plates and flitting from task to task. Parkinson’s also gives me permission to spend time alone, but do I really need permission? Why do solitary seekers feel the need to apologise for wanting time alone?
I was always a quiet child who loved playing alone, and at the time I viewed that as a weakness, I longed to be outgoing and gregarious like the ‘popular’ kids; I felt that this would make me more acceptable to society. One of my teachers once used my quietness as a criticism and alluded to my insignificant presence in his class. Yet again, more pressure to put myself in the spotlight; even though I was perfectly content to stay in my shell. Years later, as a teacher myself, I would never shame a child for being quiet or for not wanting to speak out; it is not a weakness.
Being an introvert does not necessarily mean that you are shy; it just means that you don’t need to dominate social situations, you like to listen more than you talk, you can be a deep thinker who loves meaningful conversation, and you need time alone to recharge.
Equally, this is not an attack on those who are very social or assertive; I hope that you will forgive me for using the much-ridiculed words, ‘Some of my best friends are…’ , and allow me to insert the word ‘extroverts’. I’d be losing out on so much if I didn’t spend time with these wonderfully entertaining, incredibly assertive, and highly dramatic friends; we are Yin and Yang, and that’s why it works.
So, as Parkinson’s always reminds me; it’s all about a healthy balance. Our brains are not wired to handle constant activity, but we also need social interaction. Take some time to reflect on what can be added or removed from your schedule and find that balance. Ultimately, let people be themselves, especially those who society perceives to not fit in; they have so much to offer, and they don’t need fixed!