Last weekend I had no plans. Nothing to do. I woke up at 9am with the whole day ahead of me. Sounds like a dream, right? I thought so too. Only I felt extremely anxious. I scrolled through my texts as I contemplated texting people to make plans. I then went through my Instagram and Facebook feeds and saw people “being busy.” We live in a society that teaches us that the busier you are, the more “successful” you are. I have always thought this to be true.
In college, it was always a competition to see who could be the busiest. If you weren’t stacking your day with classes and extracurriculars you were a loser. You weren’t going to be successful. You were being unproductive. I subscribed to this notion and signed up for every club I could. I would spend hours in the news studio working on various projects. There was always a secret contest to see who pulled the most all-nighters. If you left the library before 11pm, you were seen as slacking. I can’t tell you how many times I fell asleep in that library. I moved home after graduation with no job. So much for being busy 24/7. It didn’t result in my dream job. My days were no longer stacked with activities, so I would just spend hours job searching. I was obsessed. While my body was begging for a break, my mind wouldn’t stop. I was obsessed with being busy.
This obsession continued into my adulthood. Workdays are almost always followed by networking events or drinks with a friend. By time I got home, I’d be too exhausted to do anything but fall asleep to a rerun of Friends. I try and spend as little time by myself as possible, because when I’m by myself…that’s when the dark thoughts start to come. My anxiety and depression acts up and I give myself a full-blown panic attack as I obsess on things like a mistake I made at work or why I’m still single or what I’m doing with my career. As long as I’m around people, I can keep smiling and pretending like everything is okay. I can continue to feel productive and like a functioning member of society.
But last weekend I realized…I need to spend the day with myself. I need to let those dark thoughts come…and I need to feel them. I forced myself to turn off my phone and not talk to anyone…not even my mom who I call everyday. I needed to feel happy or sad or mad or bored. And you know what? I felt them all. I watched hours of TV. I wrote in my journal. I just sat on my bed and cried. And I lived through it. My body felt…changed. It’s like it was thanking me for a bit of a break. It thanked me for letting it take multiple naps throughout the day. It thanked me for letting itself recharge. These days are so necessary. It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to feel those thoughts.
I’m trying to take a few days a month where I just spend time with myself. It’s pretty awesome. I’m realizing that I like myself. I like the person I’ve become. And just because I’m spending a day watching TV in bed or reading on the patio doesn’t mean I’m being unproductive. I believe the most successful people are the ones who take time to recharge and get comfortable with themselves.
So turn off your phone and spend the day with yourself. I guarantee you’ll survive and the world will be waiting the next morning.