My creativity bloomed when I gave myself permission to be alone

3 min readJun 14, 2022
A picture of a sketchbook with a drawing of a half mandala and a half sunflower.
Photo by Swati H. Das on Unsplash

I never imagined myself doing it, but I tested a different way to live a few months ago. I went to my room and closed the door to the world around me. I only came out when absolutely necessary.

I have always needed more alone time than most people I know, especially after being around a large crowd. The only way for me to center my mind and body after heavy stimulation was to isolate myself from the world and let my body heal before going back out again. I did it reluctantly and with much guilt, because none of my family members or friends needed that much time to recover. There have been plenty of times I have been judged for taking extra time to re-energize myself. I bought into the guilt and hid in embarrassment. As a result, I have pushed myself to the boundary and drowned in my own fatigue. My burnt-out mind and body yelled out loud that they will not and could not take it anymore.

So I let it be. I gave myself permission to be human and allow myself to fulfill my basic needs. All these years, I allowed myself to have alone time, but I did not allow myself to fully enjoy it. I felt that I needed to be sick to deserve this time. How did I develop this mindset? My culture has a lot to do with it. I live in an Indian household with other family members, both young and elderly. Indian society is very heavy on prioritizing the family unit over the individual. The burden of maintaining the family unit and attending to the dear and near ones falls on the Indian woman, usually a daughter-in-law.

I had plenty of alone time before I married then; why did I think I couldn’t do it after I married? I must not make this mistake with my daughters and let them know that they did not have to change their lifestyle to accommodate other family members, including myself.

It only took 41 years, but I finally learned that I have the right to fulfill my basic needs, and I should not have to give up this right for anyone, including my children. This newfound realization gives me the courage to close my door to the world daily and for as many hours as my children are in school.

At first, I used this time to think about how I ended up having a life like this. Later I started to use this time to purge myself of the pain of past rejections and hurts. During this purge, I found myself attracted to art again. I picked up a blank sketchbook and started…


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