Photo Credit: Ali Akberali, Photographer
Why it’s okay to spend more time by yourself
Angelin Thipahar, Contributor
As a self-proclaimed introvert, I understand how there are times when three’s a crowd and two is one too many. That being said, making plans with yourself can be daunting. You don’t have another person to keep you accountable, to make sure you follow through with whatever it is you have decided to do. It’s incredibly easy to cancel plans with yourself and just stay home. So, what is the real benefit of spending time with yourself?
I’d say the best answer to that question is that you can establish the foundation for a good relationship with yourself by taking the time to be alone. Being alone does not necessarily mean that you are lonely. I have found that going out by yourself can instill a sense of confidence and accomplishment that you don’t get from having the same experience with a group of people. It is almost as though, because you know that you were the sole person responsible for these plans, the actual execution of them is given greater importance.
Spending time by yourself is an art form, and it’s in perfecting it that we work toward becoming more balanced as students. While going out with friends can be a great way to escape the monotony of your coursework or the stress of your schedule, it isn’t always possible. Your friends might be busy or just not in the mood to leave the house. Limiting your ability to go out when other people are available can prevent you from living out your main character dreams. Not every outing needs to be elaborate. Simple trips to grab coffee and grocery runs can be fun breaks away from your desk.
There are so many points in our time as students that can cause us to feel as though everything is moving incredibly fast. Especially now, during midterm season, it can be hard to live in the moment and find the time to check in with yourself. Alone time opens the door to self-reflection and lets you find a pocket of peace amid the hectic nature of your schedule.
Clearly, there are benefits that come from quality time with yourself. Now it is only right to ask: how do I spend time with myself and make it something that I enjoy? How do I keep plans with myself? Here are five ways to enjoy your alone time and make sure you reap the benefits of it.
- Bring a pair of headphones everywhere
It is hard not to feel lonely when you’re alone. Having a soundtrack or podcast to listen to does wonders to make you feel better about venturing out by yourself. My favourite podcast to listen to when I’m exploring campus is called Overdue. It consists of two friends discussing books they feel everyone ought to have read, and it makes me feel like I’m sitting at my own personal book club. It also enriches the experience of getting coffee alone.
- Have a clear plan with dates and times
When you know you have to be somewhere at a specific time, it makes you get out the door and keep those plans. It is harder to have that motivation to leave the house when no one is waiting for you to keep those plans. To help with that, perhaps schedule the event into your phone or write it into an agenda. Remind yourself that it is important to prioritize breaks as well as your day-to-day responsibilities. Be clear with your plans. For example, instead of telling yourself you’ll get coffee this week, pick a specific cafe and plan out an activity to do while you spend time there drinking your beverage.
- Remind yourself why you’re going out
This may seem self-explanatory, but bear with me. It’s easy to tell yourself that going out is not worth it or that you don’t necessarily need to go anywhere. In that moment, you should remind yourself that you made the plans to get a change of scenery and to relax. It doesn’t matter that you are going by yourself to an event, if it’s something you believe you will enjoy. This helps to make sure you follow through with your plans and makes you anticipate rather than dread them.
- Create a purpose to your outings
Some people who find it difficult to carve out time in the day for structured activity tend to do better when their activities serve a larger purpose. Even mundane activities like grocery store runs or walking around to take pictures can be fun time spent with yourself. The purpose of the activity gets you out the door and romanticization of it will help you enjoy it more.
- Mix it up
Variety is the spice of life. If you want to spend time with yourself, it’s important to balance that out with being social as well. Having every outing be by yourself will make you forge the association between being alone and being lonely. If you can’t make time to hang out with friends in person, call them on the phone while running errands or FaceTime them while you study.
Time spent with ourselves can allow us the space to become more connected with who we are. A lot of students spend so much time trying to connect and grow as people in social settings, but it is just as important to spend time with ourselves.
Remember: we’re not necessarily lonely when we’re alone.