“No man is an island, entire of itself.” – John Donne
As introverts, we need alone time to function, but that doesn’t mean that we’re immune from the devastation of loneliness, and it doesn’t mean that we should isolate ourselves.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling more than usual to balance socializing with taking time to be alone. I just started a new semester at college, and because of BYU-Idaho’s track system and other factors, I’m basically starting over socially. It’s a little overwhelming, and honestly, it’s been incredibly tempting to come home after class and shut myself in my room for the rest of the day.
But, naturally, God has other plans.
On Tuesday, at the first BYU-I devotional of the semester, President Henry J. and Sister Kelly Eyring delivered a powerful message about friendship and kindness that has inspired me to stretch myself a little.
Sister Eyring in particular said something that felt like it could have been meant just for me: “Of course, we all need some personal time during the day, time to reflect and plan and relax privately. That time might include listening to music, watching a movie, or playing a video game. But it is spiritually dangerous to establish a pattern of choosing to go to your ‘own place’ when all around you are potential friends to lift and be lifted by.”
I love that she acknowledged the need for alone time, but the rest of her message also rang true. Too much of anything can be dangerous, and that’s definitely true with alone time. I know from experience that too much can lead to isolation and loneliness, which hurts us and the people we could have lifted with our friendship.
So I’ve been trying to find little ways to fight isolation while still taking the time I need for solitude. I’ve been trying to go out more, keep my door open, make calls to family members, and spend time with my roommates. While I don’t think I’ve found the perfect balance yet (I’m suffering from an “introvert hangover” today, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been significantly more awkward than normal as a result), I’m really enjoying the relationships that I’ve been starting and strengthening, and I know it will all be worth it.
If you are struggling with even a hint of loneliness or feelings of isolation, I challenge you to make an effort to put yourself out there more, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. As much as we like to think so sometimes, we are not islands. We are not complete on our own.