I've recently been feeling exhausted from social interactions.
This surprised me because I work from home, meaning I spend most of my day alone.
I also do a lot of activities that, at first thought, don't seem to involve other people (reading, browsing the net, and video games).
So, understandably, I was confused about why I'd been craving more time alone.
That's not to say I didn't want to hang out with friends and family.
But it did mean my social tank was burning out quickly.
While I was on a walk by myself, I had a realization.
Being alone doesn't necessarily mean being alone.
When I work from home, I am constantly connected to my coworkers via Slack or video calls.
When I read, the author is talking to me.
When I browse the net, commenters are sharing their opinions with me.
When I play video games, teammates and friends are strategizing with me.
All these activities, though not physically with other people, still involve communication with others.
This may seem obvious, but it's not something we think about when someone spends the day "alone" on their computer.
Perhaps the answer is disconnecting and going on a walk around my neighborhood or driving for the sake of driving.
But the problem is objects also communicate with us.
Whether that's billboards, bumper stickers, and even road signs, these are all things trying to grab our attention and tell us something.
This very realization explains why I feel so refreshed after hiking or camping alone.
In nature, man-made signs telling you what to do is rare.
There aren't things trying to sell you something.
We don't run into people or objects expressing their unwanted opinion.
The only thing communicating to you is you.
The great thing is you don't have to drive miles into the country and completely isolate yourself.
I've been also able to achieve this feeling by doing things like writing, programming, and listening to instrumental music.
That is what refuels my social tank.
That is actually being alone, and it's awesome.
I don't want to do it all the time.
But I need to do it to maintain balance in my head.