Why I Love Spending Time By Myself and How It Has Taught Me to be Self-Aware

In a recent internship interview, I was asked what the single most important thing I had learned in college was thus far. I paused for a second, thinking about my classes and trying to think if any of them were that impactful or valuable enough to have taught me the most important thing I’ve learned in my past year and a half. Within the third second of pondering, I realized that none of my classes taught me anything that important. Beneficial? Of course they were. But the single most important thing I’ve learned since I started college is the ability to know myself— to be self-aware.

I proceeded to explain to the interviewers what I meant by this and at first, I was worried that my answer wasn’t what they were looking for until they responded with, “That’s a really good answer.” (And in case anyone is curious– I got the position, so I guess being truthful with my answer instead of trying to think of some educational concept I’ve learned worked out for the best.)

My point is, I’ve learned to get to know myself as I would get to know any other person as a friend. To become so self-aware, I’ve spent loads of time by myself— and no, I don’t mean it in the sense that I was lonely or just physically alone. By spending time by myself I mean doing things that people normally do with a friend on my own. Like going to the park alone, sitting and watching the boats pass by alone, getting food alone, going to museums and going shopping alone. I didn’t realize how much I would come to enjoy spending time alone until I came to college. Moving to a new state and going to a new school required me to do a great deal of things alone and through doing all these things, I’ve learned so much about myself that I may not have otherwise.

So why am I telling you this? Why am I telling you about all the time I spend by myself?

I’m telling you so that you, too, can realize the value of getting to know yourself and appreciating the time you spend by yourself. I’m telling you because I know there are so many people out there who are so subconsciously (or even sometimes consciously) reliant on others to the point that they cannot go out and do things unless they are accompanied by another individual. They need the presence of others in order to feel any form of satisfaction from what they are doing. They can’t just go to the park and sit alone– they need someone to talk to. They can’t just go get dinner alone– they need someone to eat with. They can’t just go to the mall alone– they need someone to shop with. Don’t let yourself or those around you become so dependent on others to the point that you feel as if your time is only being spent well if you are doing things with someone else. Learn to enjoy your own company just as much as you enjoy that of others.

This toxic mindset limits you from experiencing life free of distractions posed by others. It limits you from spending time by yourself and getting to know yourself. With time, you’ll become more self-aware and begin to understand how you react to and interpret things when you are not influenced by those around you.

Spending time by yourself is definitely not the sole way that I’ve become self-aware but I can confidently say that it has contributed immensely to my self-awareness. I love spending time with others, but learning to spend time alone has allowed me to appreciate myself more and has even taught me to value my time with others in a new and improved way.

I’m not saying become a loner or lock yourself in your room alone all day– I’m just saying that you should give yourself the same time and attention that you’d give a friend you are hanging out with. If you haven’t already, you may learn to value yourself and your time alone the way that I’ve come to value me, myself, and I.