That photo right there, that’s what I hope my future looks like. Not all the time, of course, but sometimes. Those times you just want to clear your mind of all the noise and just be. Just be with your reading material and drink of choice. These days it’s Margaret Atwood’s “The Testaments” and an old-fashioned.
For my whole life I have looked for the comfort in being around others. It was more than just being bored if I was alone. It was unwanted solitude. I was alone. I was it. Growing up, I championed how to play checkers all by myself and Monopoly. Can you imagine?
So as I got older, I tried to keep myself busy with anyone who would spend time with me. An older sibling of a friend in high school called me “the mold,” because I was always just there, hanging out in the background content to be in a space with other people.
It wasn’t until recently, in dealing with my anxiety, that I started to focus on who I could be without anyone else. I thought being married would make this endeavor difficult, but my husband is the king of alone time. (Now that I think about it, I should probably get some pointers from him.)
This past week has been a great jumping off point to really indulge myself in alone time since my husband would be out of town for work. I dropped him off at the airport and decided this week would be a self-care week of whatever my heart desires. In a phrase, I was going to date myself.
I started off slow, like any date would be, right? Heading to a coffee shop for a few hours. I brought my laptop as a distraction, but usually just ended up people watching.
What are they doing today? I wonder where they’re going. Are they happy?
And I wrote. As much as the solo sound of a TV show can distract me, it is the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop and all of its commotion that turns my writing on. But this wasn’t enough me time for my head-space.
I began to think about what I did when I was single, when I didn’t have a choice in being alone. What did I do? What did I enjoy? Where did I go? This is where having dinner alone grew for me.
Self-care is about my mind and what I need to be surrounded with in order to clear my head and breathe.
I am most content with “me time” when I’m alone in my head, but still surrounded by people. (This is a work in progress and enjoying a walk on a secluded path is going to take time, ya know?) So heading to my favorite restaurant and sitting at the bar for dinner, that was my next date. Another night, it was heading to a nearby sushi restaurant and enjoying some hot sake on their patio overlooking passersby on their way home from work.
This week has been a true journey in not just being alone, but enjoying my time alone. To me, self-care is not just going to get a manicure, hitting the gym, or getting my hair done. While those things are all lovely and make you feel good, to me, self-care is about my mind and what I need to be surrounded with in order to clear my head and breathe.
When it comes to self-care, there really are no rules. It’s all about you and whatever it is you need to do in order to reset and re-motivate.
For me, it’s usually writing in a coffee shop or sitting outside on a lovely Fall day watching people go about their lives. But whatever you choose to do, consider doing it alone from time to time. There is something extraordinary in just being. Your mind and body will thank you.