In deciding what to do for my final intervention, I reflected upon something that a close friend had pointed out to me: it’s really difficult to get “alone time” in college. Of course, I spend time studying by myself or find myself at my apartment alone sometimes, but the college culture promotes a significant portion of time spend with others. I live with other people, eat with other people, do homework with other people, have fun with other people, etc. While I am surrounded by great friends and none of this is bad in and of itself, I have found that I am very reliant on others. I realized this during week 5 this quarter when I spent a day home alone with the flu and found it uncomfortable to sit by myself without any sort of work or agenda.
Following this realization, I decided that for my final intervention I would set aside 45-90 minutes each day to do something by myself. Some days, this meant taking myself out for dinner or driving downtown. Other days, this simply meant setting an hour aside to journal or go for a long walk. I also stayed off of my phone during these “alone time” periods unless there was a legitimate need. This choice was originally difficult for me to accept due to my busy schedule. The immediate reaction to this idea was that I don’t have enough time. Between classes, work, clubs, and social activities, it already seems as though there are not enough hours in the day. However, I recognized that self interventions are meant to be challenging and uncomfortable.
The first couple of days of my intervention were very difficult for me. It was hard to allow myself to reflect or enjoy my experiences. This was especially true when I ate at a restaurant by myself. I can’t remember another time in my life where I had dinner alone at a traditional sit-down restaurant. The first 10-20 minutes were filled with distractions and doubts. What do I do? What should I be thinking about? Do other people notice that I’m alone?
Both the dinner and the intervention as a whole became easier for me when I allowed my thoughts to wander. I eventually lost track of time and began to reflect on the things I was experiencing and the things that had been on my mind during the week. Eventually, I began to actually enjoy my own company. This was very significant for me, as it was a feeling that I had not experienced in a very long time. By the last two of three days of the intervention, I was looking forward to the time I had set aside to be alone.
The intervention not only taught me how to be comfortable doing leisurely activities by myself, but it showed me how important it is to establish a balance between the time spent with others and the time spent alone. When we fail to take time to reflect on our own, life can become more confusing and less rewarding. This ‘reflection’ doesn’t always need to be a long period of silence or meditation. In this case, it simply meant taking a step back from the constant connection to friends, family, peers, and technology.