In an attempt to be more productive with my personal endeavors, I chose to dedicate every Sunday solely to myself. I did everything in my power to respectfully make myself unavailable to others. I’d rid myself of all obligations in an attempt to harbor some guilt-free “me time” before retreating to my Treehouse (my small bedroom in my cousin’s house in NY, where the foliage outside my window was beautifully overwhelming) for the entire day.
On Sundays, I’d conquer the world – my world, that is. I’d organize my digital photo albums and clean out my iTunes library. I learned how therapeutic it felt to sketch to the vibrations of a perfected curated playlist. I started teaching myself how to edit pictures on Photoshop. I’d practice yoga poses or catch up on my reading. Some Sundays, I’d spend hours constructing a house on The Sims 4; customizing every pixel of it until my legs went numb. My simple joys ended up becoming habits of self-care and self-investment. No matter what, though, I found myself constantly pestered by my phone, and at some point, I decided enough was enough.
“I did everything in my power to respectfully make myself unavailable to others.”
The first step toward obtaining peace was getting out of the habit of using social media when idle. It took me a while to break my attachment to the instant gratification of checking my Instagram notifications or refreshing my Twitter timeline for the next funny gif. Soon after that, I began silencing my phone altogether, turning it to “Do Not Disturb” so that no calls or texts came through unless I programed them to do so. Most people, thankfully, respected my Sunday behavior and let me be. Even my Mom knew not to call unless it was an emergency.
This newfound silence left me with plenty of time on my hands to truly dive into whatever my heart desired. I was able to scribble out ideas and goals while immersing myself into new hobbies. Through this ritual, I began to fall in love with myself more and more. When you practice self-awareness in solitude, you notice the things about yourself that you’re usually too distracted to notice: the songs that make you cry, how often you slouch when sitting, where your mind tends to wander, etc. Nowadays, we aren’t often granted these opportunities for silence; thus, we aren’t fully present in life – especially with ourselves.
“My simple joys ended up becoming habits of self-care and self-investment.”
The technological advancement of the cell phone is a gift and a curse. Using our cell phones, we can visibly check in on our long-distance relatives, stock our fridge, and kickstart our professional photography careers – all with the tap of a screen! Everywhere we go, we can effortlessly carry a device for instant worldwide communication that fits in the palm of our hands. Cell phones provide access to an eternity of knowledge. However, despite all their glory, cell phones are a curse because of their paralyzing role as a distraction.
If you feel the urge to align yourself with peace, purpose, and productivity, try setting your phone – and all other nuisances in your life – to “Do Not Disturb!”
Try to implement your own ritual of alone time that you will look forward to, and that others in your life will respect and encourage:
- Silence your phone for a consistent designated time range. Start by choosing just a few hours a week and adjust to what feels right to you.
- Curate new “Respond with Text” messages to send when you don’t want to pick up a call. Your friends and family should respect these. My favorite is: “Currently in creative mode… Is this an urgent call?”
- Designate a comfortable space for yourself where you can be left alone and productive. If this is not a possibility, figure out what ambiance makes you feel most at peace and/or motivated. Now, recreate that vibe as best as you can!
What could you accomplish in total solitude?