As an adult, I learned to really love my alone time. I’ve come to love the silent days I’d spend in my own head experiencing the world the way I wanted to. I even found joy and excitement in traveling alone and taking mini-adventures solo. In the empty spaces, I’ve come to know myself as a confidant, a partner, a best friend and someone I can truly rely on. However, this wasn’t always this way.
I used to be afraid of my own company. I used to judge my value based on what my schedule looked like. Did I have enough social plans? Am I being left out of anything? Should I be more productive?
I used to judge my value based on what my schedule looked like.
There used to be a lot of judgment when I’d look at my calendar as a reflection of my worth. I didn’t see the hope and bliss in the gaps. I saw fear and loneliness. That was until I realized the real reason I felt lonely was that I couldn’t face the person staring at me in the mirror, myself.
After years of basing my confidence in how my life “looked” and whether my schedule was full, I realized I wasn’t happy. I was just putting a filter on my reality. So I started to create space for myself to stop making plans and start slowing down.
I took myself on dates. I walked around the city for hours alone. I started to learn what my interests were without having to ask for the opinion of anyone else. I really began to understand and love who I was in the background instead of in the scene. I had no idea that this personal experiment would prepare for me this new normal: quarantine and social distancing.
One thing I am not anxious about amidst this pandemic is the time I get to myself. I am grateful to have more reasons to unravel and continue the journey I started a few years ago. There is still a lot to know and many ways to grow that I’m finding peace with during this gap in time.
One thing I am not anxious about amidst this pandemic is the time I get to myself.
This is not to say that I didn’t and don’t still need connection. I’m all for digital happy hours with my best friends, FaceTiming family to watch TV together and even finding genuine connections with people online. There are a lot of beautiful ways to stay connected with other people, but there are also a lot of really lovely ways to stay connected with yourself offscreen. By all means, “Netflix and chill,” but also please, give yourself the chance to thrive on your own time.
There are also a lot of really lovely ways to stay connected with yourself offscreen.
Here are some ways I have found to enjoy the time I have on my own:
It took me a long time to get into meditation. Even now, I wouldn’t say I’m “good” at it. My mind wanders. My imagination gets lost, but somehow I always come out feeling better in the end.
Whether it’s 5 minutes or 30 minutes, every minute spent in your own head is worthwhile. If you’re a beginner, then ease into it by using an app like Insight Timer, where you can filter by length and by benefit. If you’re used to meditating already, then maybe you now try embracing the silence and stillness and guide yourself.
There is so much you can discover about yourself by filling in blank pages, but I also know it can be intimidating. Here’s a prompt for you to try: Write your future self a letter—think after quarantine. Write that version of yourself a message about what you did during this time.
Tell yourself what you ate, what you learned, what you read, what you tasted and what you built. Tell your future self what you need to hear right now. Seal it, and save it.
Also, check out Darling‘s Issue 25, which has several great journal prompts to get your mind thinking and creating. You can write them down in your own Darling journal.
With this time, there is finally space for you to create the things that have been budding on your to-do list and scratching your imagination. Now is when you can finally bunker down and establish what needs to be done to chase your dreams.
Set a timer for 15 to 30 minutes and brainstorm all of the things you want to build—from app ideas to business ideas to premises for a novel. Write it all down, and then choose the adventure that feels like it belongs to you, and go make something of it.
There’s only so much productivity anyone can handle. The trick is spending enough time alone to build the self-awareness you need to know when your body and mind requires a break. Take advantage of the downtime by pampering yourself, but if you want to get deeper, make it meaningful.
If you do a face mask, then spend a few minutes just gazing at yourself. If you take a bath, then take time to be grateful for the health of your body. If you give yourself a manicure, then find gratitude for all the magic those hands help you create. This way, you’re pampering your inner layer and much as your outer.
While I don’t believe in being positive for the sake of positivity, I do believe in finding opportunities where you can. Right now, you have an opportunity to get to know yourself and to be the star of your own life—when no one is watching. How do you want this story to go?
How do you spend your time at home? How can you cultivate purpose right now?
Image via Jason Barbagelott, Darling Issue No. 13