By Anjali Nayak
I am a people person through and through. Each morning, I wake up in anticipation of conversation and connection, eager to start discussion with the people around me. Fortunately, my extroverted tendencies have led me to my favorite people: I will forever be thankful for laughs shared over FaceTime calls, the spontaneity of impromptu adventure, and wheezing conversations in the midst of hikes. The people I love have shaped me to become the person I am today.
However, I have recently realized the beauty of being by oneself. Alone time gets a bad rep—many couple time alone with depression and loneliness, but there is a certain sense of security that accompanies making time for oneself. Oftentimes, we feel the need to curate a specific image that appeases the people around us, but the pressure to pretend we are perfect is exactly the thing holding us back from experiencing the happiness we seek—and often limits our ability to be our whole, authentic selves. Alone time forces one to question their true motives, intentions, and goals for life without the hindrance of outside perspectives or input. What do you like to do when no one is watching? Who is the person you want to be? What are the things in life that truly make you happy? At first, alone time often leads to spiraling self deprecation, but learning to listen to yourself is important. Being able to sit contently and reflect is the first step towards complete self-security. Non-judgmentally focusing on yourself, validating your emotions and motivations helps to accept both your truth as well as your inability to fully accept it.
Alone time is best spent doing a hobby that is genuinely just yours—a love or passion fueled by intrinsic motivation, which is doing something because of the satisfaction it brings you in and of itself. Hobbies during alone time is the most intrinsically motivated thing we could do, they are work we choose to do when we could be doing just about anything else. A good hobby is one in which true mastery can never be attained: learning a new language or instrument, reading a book, painting, doing puzzles, journaling, watching movies. Seeing yourself progress and get better at something you love is precious. The quiet successes elicited by hobbies are valuable—what are the small wins that get you through your day?
In the rush of my teenage years, I often forget to maintain my most important relationship: the friendship I have with myself. Learning to enjoy alone time is an overlooked aspect of self care. Make time for yourself. Alone time doesn’t have to be lonely.