Take time to get to know yourself away from others

Each day is filled with countless interactions.

The half-yawned “good morning” to our roommates, the numerous emails to our professors, the study sessions with friends, the never-ending texts, the half-hour phone call from our empty-nester moms — the list goes on.

We thrive on these daily encounters. We are social beings, so of course we do. But it is said that social interaction only improves our day to a certain extent. Supposedly, we only need to spend 20 to 40 percent of our conscious day socializing to bring us happiness. If we experience more than 60 percent of social interaction, then there does not seem to be an increase in overall satisfaction — instead, it plateaus. 

In other words, aside from social interactions, we also need to spend time in solitude to be content with our lives.

There comes a point in each day where we need to disconnect ourselves from everyone and everything and take some much needed alone time. We ultimately need this allotted time as a way to self-check and refresh our minds so we can be more successful and self-aware.

Even in those moments where we think we are having true time to ourselves, we probably aren’t. It is almost as if we all feel this urge to be entertained at every moment in time. Our walks to class are spent plugged into our iPods. Our “free time” is spent catching up on TV shows. Our time sitting at the bus stop is spent checking our phones.

It is like we never fully face our thoughts head-on. There is always some barrier in the way.

So when I say we need alone time, I am talking about total disconnection from everything but ourselves and our thoughts — and some people might initially find that very challenging. It can be difficult because often times we consciously have to tell ourselves to turn off electronics and rid ourselves of distractions. And we are all so busy most of the time that while it seems like a good idea to be left alone with our own mind, who has a gap in their day to do that?

However, alone time can be accomplished during everyday tasks. An article about solitude written by Katrina Kenison said, “Be on the lookout for stolen moments. There are empty spaces in almost every day, tiny nooks of time that you can inhabit in solitude.” 

Take a longer route to get to class. Wake up a little earlier each morning and think about the day ahead of you. Lie in bed at the end of the day and reflect on everything that happened. Or use the time in other mundane parts of your day. I honestly swear by the fact that I always have my greatest life epiphanies while I am in the shower.

We are so often wound up in life, constantly moving from one thing to the next and regularly in communication with others. By living a life full of homework, papers, tests and other obligations, a few moments of peace and clarity each day can do us good.

The bottom line is that taking the time to separate ourselves from all of the stimuli in our lives is so vital for our well-being. According to Psychology Today, it allows us to think about what is going on in our lives, concentrate, unwind and ultimately see everything with a clearer view. We can even learn to make better, well-thought out decisions.

While we are physically present for everything we do and every interaction we have with others in a way that allows us to “know ourselves,” it is really only allowing us to know ourselves in relation to other people. We know what kind of friend we are, whether we are the bratty younger sibling, the crazy one at a party or the perfect A-plus student — but what about when we are not in the presence of others? Who are we then? 

I don’t think you can ever really know unless you allow yourself the time to find out.

Nicki is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]