Last week, I headed out to Central Park’s The Great Lawn by myself. My friend texted me and this is how the conversation went:
Friend: Hey are you in the city?
Me: I am! Tanning at Central Park!
Me: Yeah. Just chilling and spending some time alone.
These last few years, I have learned to spend some quality time alone. I’ve always been the “keep yourself busy” kind of person, waking up and prioritizing my to-do list more than anything. I never really allowed myself to recharge – my mind was constantly overshadowed by that important exam, those graduate school applications, those friends I had to meet for dinner, that work at the clinic, blah blah blah. It’s really easy to get completely entangled with the myriad of issues in life. It’s common to forget to just stop for a moment and appreciate your own presence. More than this, society has embedded in us the ultimate feeling of being social – going to a restaurant to eat alone could be deemed as something lonely and uncommon. I have been a victim of this as I feared doing things by myself. If I wanted to try out that new restaurant around the block, I needed to ask my friends to join me. Watching a movie by myself was a definite no, because I didn’t want strangers to think that I was a “loser” or an “outcast.” It took me a while to realize what these thoughts signified – I was not comfortable with myself. It could be different for someone else but for me, I failed to acknowledge my own presence and failed to actively introspect myself. Whenever I encountered “tell me about yourself” questions, I would take forever to answer. It’s funny because I’ve lived in my own skin for 23 years, yet I still wasn’t able to come up with a simple answer to who I was as a person. Failing to spend time alone meant failing to know myself inside and outside.
Getting to know yourself through time alone is not embarrassing. I’ve now learned to set a few days aside from my busy schedule to go and savor the stress-free moment of spending time with just me, myself, and I. With my diary, my favorite pen, and a recently purchased book, I tread out to a nearby park or coffee shop. No phone, social media, or friends. I turn off my “I have so much to do” mindset and just enjoy the moment. And I have to admit, I learned and changed so much through these introspective times. I now know how to reflect deeply on my past actions, my life, my relationships with others; I know how to love and appreciate myself better; I have a clear idea of my goals and priorities. Most importantly, I am comfortable with myself. Don’t ever hesitate to reward yourself with some alone time. It’s the precious moment to truly be happy, to appreciate your own existence, to truly know yourself, and to better yourself in all areas of life.