The Art of Being Alone
If you feel like you’re an introvert, it’s time you started enjoying it.
I love people–for the most part. I always thought I was good at socializing because friendships are so important to me. I just assumed I should be good at talking to people, being spontaneous and being constantly stimulated by interactions. At least this is what I was telling myself, for years throughout middle school and high school. And in that sense, I started pushing myself. Pushing myself into doing things and acting a certain way. And ultimately, pushing myself to be a different person completely.
I think for a lot of people they think it’s better to be more of an extrovert than an introvert. That’s because I feel like there’s always this constant pressure to have a perfect social life–one where we are always doing something with someone, and are always surrounded by people constantly. But honestly, for some people (including myself) what I just described sometimes feels like nothing short of a nightmare. But unfortunately, the popular thing to do isn’t to keep to yourself–everyone expects you to be outgoing and happy, so we try to strive for that. And that’s what I was trying to do for all those years; convincing everyone around me, along with myself, that I’m a happy, full-of-life extrovert.
But i’m really not. I’ve learned this now more than ever. And now that I’ve come to terms with it, it’s really helped me be more comfortable with myself, and even other people.
Additionally, keeping the balance between being an introvert and having anxiety can be a challenge in itself. Because while I feel burnt out at times and want to be alone with myself, another part of me is eating at me and saying; why aren’t you doing this, why aren’t you seeing more people, why aren’t you having more experiences, why are you missing out on everything.
I’m tired of people feeling ashamed for wanting to be alone. I’m tired of people being shamed and looked at weird for simply wanting to have time to themselves. For a person who is an introvert, or even has mental problems, this can be really harmful. You should never feel bad for giving yourself a break from people, because truly, it becomes too much. Especially with the social media takeover, social interactions have a million different pressures in today’s modern age.
Here’s how I embrace being an introvert. AKA this is how I embrace being my own best friend.
Schedule “Me” Time
Stop pretending that giving yourself (and only yourself)time is a bad thing. It’s not weird that you enjoy being alone because guess what: you’re a pretty cool person to be around! As our lives get busier, we get less and less time to ourselves, and in turn, the only voices we are hearing a lot of the times is other people’s, not our owns. This is why scheduling at time during the day, or even the week, to just be alone. This way you let yourself recharge and be ready for the next round of interactions you’re going to have to make. Note: this “Me’ time could be as simple as just going to the bathroom alone for a minute, or reading a couple pages of a book on a bus ride.
Don’t be Afraid to Say No
A lot of times, we just genuinely don’t feel like being around people during the day. When I first learned about this, I pushed it back and just said yes to every social interaction that was thrown at me. I always said yes. In high school, I felt like I didn’t have enough things to say yes to. Today, there are literally days where I beg that no plans come up. And this doesn’t make me a bad person. I just have those days where I need to be with myself. The problem for me is, that I always feel like I need to make up some crazy excuse as to why I don’t want to go get lunch. Imagine that, I’m sitting there scheming a perfect white lie that will get me out of going to Panera? Only recently was I finally brave enough to say that I simply wasn’t in the mood to go out or better yet, I realized that I didn’t have to justify anything if it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Turn Your Notifications on Mute
I say this from personal experience as well as hearing other people’s struggles of how social media becomes TOO overstimulating. This is an important lesson I’ve learned in the modern age we live in today: there is nothing wrong or weird about turning group chats/notifications on mute when you feel like it’s becoming too much. This is an important part of self care for a lot of people, and if you feel like you need it, don’t force yourself to answer every email and every tweet all at the same time. We’ve trained ourselves into thinking since we have the ability to answer quickly, we absolutely have to. But the fact of the matter is, just because someone sees the message, doesn’t mean they’re physically or even mentally able to answer right away.
Eat By Yourself (Yeah, I said it)
I feel like a lot of us undercover introverts always feel like we need to go with someone when we want to get coffee or a snack or something. I don’t know about other people, but I’ve had so many times where I went to my favorite cafe and just read a good book. Being alone at public places DOES NOT make you look pathetic or weird, and if you enjoy doing it, more power to you! I think eating and enjoying the beauty that is food is a more than amazing way to enjoy time with yourself. I’ve honestly found that the couple times that I went to a restaurant or gotten something from a food truck by myself, the food seemed to taste a little better, because I had to
Have a Fashion Show (For Yourself!)
These days, we feel like we always need approval about our outfits or fashion choices from people outside of our bubble. I say enough of that. I say, give yourself a day where you go thrift shopping, or just look through clothes in your closet, and think of new outfits to think of. This especially good if you’re someone who needs to have outfits planned out each morning, like myself. But the difference here is; I don’t want you texting a friend and asking if you look okay. I don’t want you looking at Pinterest and trying to copy an outfit exactly. Just have fun with your own closet and appreciate how cute and awesome you are.
Originally published at medium.com on August 23, 2016.