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5 Ways to Enjoy Time with Yourself

I have always been an extroverted person. I thrive off of connections with people and I usually don’t feel fully awake until I’ve had at least one conversation to kick off my day. Quarantine, as you can imagine, was a tough period of solitary introspection. My siblings moved out of the house a while ago and my parents both work a lot, so quarantine was more or less 6 months of alone time. At first, this reality terrified me. I spent my time desperately searching for new ways to waste it or different ways to distract myself from my own thoughts. I realized that I was so reliant on interactions with other people, I didn’t know how to truly be alone. 

I was on FaceTime with one of my friends when I realized how desperately I’d be avoiding being alone. She was talking about how even though she’d be physically alone for months, she didn’t feel lonely because she was either online or getting to know herself. I was only online. I spent my entire day on the internet doing something and I was never truly alone. This was strange to me because I was still the loneliest I’d ever been. The false distractions of technology were no longer working and I decided it was time to actually become comfortable being by myself. I thought if I was going to be alone with myself for the unforeseeable future, I might as well learn to enjoy being alone. This is something I still struggle with, but that initial decision definitely gave me the opportunity to get to know myself for the first time. Now I make it a necessary part of my day and I have fun doing it! I can’t tell you how much I recommend doing this, even if we’re surrounded by friends once again. Think back on your day to day life and try to think of the last time you were truly alone. If you need some tips on how to plan some alone time (I certainly did) here are 5 ways that I create productive me-time in my daily schedule. 

  1. 1. Meditation

    I meditate every morning for about 30 minutes. This seems like a long time, but after some practice and habit formation anyone can easily float off into meditation for half an hour. This time grounds my day and gives me an invaluable break from any other (sometimes overwhelming) responsibilities. I started meditating with the help of Sam Harris’ app “Waking Up” and have since found some other apps such as “Calm” and “Headspace” to be really helpful. Now, I enjoy finding a quiet space outdoors to meditate on my own, usually in the Arb or by the Observatory. 

  2. 2. Reading

    Despite being a proud humanities person, before quarantine, I hadn’t actually read a book for fun in years. I had started tons of books and ended up putting them down for the notifications popping up on my phone or the newest episode of whatever show I had been binging. Try leaving your phone in another room and pick a trashy romantic teen novel, or an academically stimulating epic (for me it’s usually the former). I find myself lost in the pages again for hours and my mind fills with creative images that had previously been forgotten since childhood. When I read I feel as creative as I did as a kid. This has taught me a lot about my own thoughts. Try looking into your imagination; I’ve found that it’s a wonderful reflection of your individual self.

  3. 3. Puzzles

    I have always loved puzzles but I’ve never really understood their whole value. It’s an activity that seems mindless but it can really be telling of your view on life! If you open the puzzle box and find two pieces already connected, do you set them aside as the first completed section or separate each piece to complete later for yourself? Do you sort out pieces into piles of color and shape or do you complete the edges and then simply work inward? If you’re usually a person who would go for each of the former options, try the latter. A puzzle can be a great way to teach yourself to enjoy the process, take your time on the trip because once you finish it, that’s it, you’re done. Why rush to finish something just for it to end?

  4. 4. Carry A Small Notebook

    Another way that I have become comfortable with my thoughts has been to write them down on paper. I carry a tiny blue notebook around with me wherever I go and when I’m feeling anything particularly strong, I usually end up writing it down in a (not so great) poem. This has taught me two things. First, it’s ok to create something that’s not that good. I’m ok at poetry; I can usually produce something that’s enjoyable to read if I take my time and rewrite it about six times. However, I can also crank out a not-so-great short poem with enormous amounts of emotion in about 30 seconds. It’s definitely below average for others to read, but it was helpful for my own mental health. This is the second lesson I took away, seeing my anxieties on paper has helped me to understand them in an entirely new way. I can read them in the book almost like a third party, and this has brought me a lot of clarity. No matter what form your thoughts take on paper, I recommend getting a tiny blue book. ​

  5. 5. French Mountain

    French Mountain is about a 26-minute drive from Colby's campus. It’s an 8-minute hike to the summit on a clearly marked trail that is more than possible to hike alone with minimal hiking experience. I try to go alone at least once a week. The summit is a beautiful flat rock with gorgeous views of the landscape. If you are lucky enough to have your own car on campus, try driving here alone. If you know someone with a car, drive here together but hike it and enjoy the summit separately. Bring homework, a good book, or a notebook. This is a beautiful place to get to know your own thoughts. ​

Quarantine has taught me the value of spending time alone. These five activities seem trivial but they have allowed me to become closer with myself than I thought possible. I can't recommend enough that you give at least one of these a shot!