We all have a desire to belong, to be a part of a community. Most times we tend to join communities of people who get us. It is in trying to achieve this sense of belonging that we sometimes end up making too many compromises. Do we always have to be surrounded by people, or be in the company of someone to feel that we belong? Or is it just having the fear of being alone with self?
While checking images of people depicted as alone on the internet, majority of them looked miserable. I started to think that as much as we have progressed as a society, there are aspects of ourselves that we still need to work on. For example, when we see someone having lunch by themselves whether in a work cafeteria or even at a restaurant, our first instinct is to ask ourselves if they are okay. We see people as being lonely when they in fact just want to be alone.
I have been working at improving my mental health and one thing that has helped me is spending time alone. I find that in my alone times, I can reflect on my day and allow myself to regroup especially when things have not gone according to plan. My alone times have been some of my happiest and also scariest moments. Self-assessment is at its realest in those alone moments. It is scary when you face your own truth whether it is about how far you have come, what you still want to achieve or questionable decisions you made in the past.
Initially spending time alone was difficult. It felt as if it was a waste of time which I could use for chores or even catching up on my work. Trying to convince myself that I mattered was almost impossible. That is when I decided to write the article titled “Change is good for me”. I needed to make some changes in my life and those changes would allow me to make time for me. That article is a personal reminder to me to do so.
Alone times do not always have to be productive. You will not always walk away with solutions to your problems or come up with innovative ideas for your future. Sometimes alone moments are just for self-acknowledgement and self-acceptance. When we self-accept, we embrace every part of ourselves, not just the good positive stuff, but negative things too. Moments alone have allowed me to confront things from my past that I thought had been long resolved. It is like looking at your own refection in a mirror, your one on one with self. There are things I wish I had done differently, but I cannot undo my past, it is who I was then. The me of old is still me.
When I look back, each time I wanted to spend time alone I was worried about how I would be perceived by others. I could not tell my family or friends that I needed time to spend with self because I thought they would feel it was selfish or didn’t enjoy their company. I wish I had had the courage to let them know how important it was to me back then.
I used to feel lonely even when I was in the company of others. I could not figure out why I felt that way until I started prioritizing time alone. I realised that as much as I was giving time to others, I was not giving it to myself. We make time to go on dates with friends and partners, work, chores, shopping etc. Just as we allocate time for all these important things in our lives, we must do the same for our time alone.
Time alone does not need to be structured; each moment can be different. Once you start adding too many rules it will feel like a chore. The length of your time alone is not really important. What matters is that you do remember to make time for you.
You need to fully relax to experience the benefits. Find a place where you are most comfortable. Use whatever method that helps your mind to calm down. For me it is always a cup of tea. For some it could be soft music or just sitting still. Do a check-in with self from within. Find out how you are feeling about you, within you and not how productive or unproductive the day has been.
During my alone time, I write down how the way I feel inside influences the decisions that I make. This allows me to self-correct. I try not to revisit my past with regret, not placing too much emphasis on things that I cannot change. I express my gratitude for each day that I am given and stay hopeful for the future.
Life will have challenges, but always remember that you matter. Be available for you so you can refuel and realign.