“Do not rely completely on any other human being, however dear. We meet all life's greatest tests alone.” ~Agnes Macphail
I have found that the more time I spend alone, the more comfortable I become in my own skin because I can truly get to know myself. This provides me with more patience to accept myself as I am, wherever I am in my journey, on a daily basis.
This lesson was something I learned after spending a summer alone in Italy with a family friend.
I embarked on the journey, turning off my phone for the first time, well, probably ever. I would be jetting all over America then landing in a country with a family basically unknown to me.
It wasn’t until two years after I returned that I wished I had spent more time living in the moment while experiencing the greatest adventure of my life. I was not comfortable enough in my own skin to truly be present in the magical moments presenting themselves in a foreign country.
My mind stayed distracted as I wondered what people were thinking of me, and what I would post online to my friends back home.
At nineteen years old, it seemed much more important to capture photos to upload to social media. The Internet was a crutch for me to not feel so alone in an unknown territory. As brave as I was to be completely alone in my adventure, I had a thousand people to “connect” with on my lonely nights!
Two years later I realized that I could have filled my days with activities for growth.
I now wish I had traveled to nearby cities, spent my days reading in a cafe, tried acupuncture—anything out of the ordinary.
The truth was I didn’t have the hobbies I have now. The trip did help me grow, but I regret that I could not simply enjoy the moments instead of wanting thousands of others to see I was enjoying them.
I discovered that if I want to be happy, it would be my own doing. Happiness is an interior process and comes without validation from others.
This is something that is a lesson to be relearned each day.
Spending small moments of time alone—sans phone, tablet, laptop, TV, and radio—allows one to really tune in. We need to ask ourselves things like: What is my body telling me today? How do I feel today?
There are all kinds of things we can do to enjoy our alone time, some of them very simple. I enjoy my shower, my yoga practice, and the scenic drive home, all without communication to the exterior world. This helps me to really absorb my practice and just “be.” I find it helpful to journal, old fashion style, with a pen and paper after this little escape.
To figure out if you are relying on others, ask yourself: What have I done today, only for myself? Do I need to have my cell phone? Or can I stow it away and just be?
You may also want to ask yourself: Am I taking a photo so I can remember this occasion, or so others can see how I spent my hour? Am I updating my social media because I want to, or because I need validation through likes and posts to be happy?
Lastly, ask: What would happen if I stopped seeking the opinions of others to fuel my happiness? Would the world still accept me if I spent less time trying to win their approval?
The only one keeping you away from your true self is you.
Practice spending an hour a day doing something just for you and keep it a secret. Relish in the fact that this activity is just for you.
Once you grow fond of spending time alone, you can start to increase the amount of time you spend on your “secret” activities. Eventually, your presence in the moment will grow as you stop seeking approval and recognition from others.
I find that when I take a day off and unplug, I emerge fully ready to engage with others with more energy and enjoyment.
When your brain stops worrying about what others think of you, what you should have said or done, you can truly listen to your friends and provide feedback and attention.
Trust in yourself and feel powerful in the fact you are taking your happiness into your own hands.