For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to make time to spend with myself. It sounds crazy, because I’m technically with myself all day, every day, for the past 27 years. There is no one who is closer to me than me. But do I really spend time with myself? Am I really giving myself my undivided attention?
Louis C.K., in an interview with Conan O’Brien, talked about smartphones and how they’re the little piece of technology that keeps us from thinking about the vast aloneness that is humanity. “You need to build an ability to be just yourself and not be doing something.” He says, “That’s what the phones are taking away, the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person. You gotta check. Because underneath everything in your life, there’s that thing, that empty, that forever empty.”
I am totally one of those people who falls into that hole of smartphone life-avoidance. Every idle moment is filled with some new information streamed straight to my brain courtesy of my phone. I’m in an elevator, check my phone. I’m at a red light, check my phone. There’s a lull in the conversation, check my phone. If it’s not my phone it’s the television, or it’s the radio, it’s always something else. I never allow myself to just sit and be. I don’t allow myself that alone time to be with myself.
My commute is one of those typical terrible LA commutes. On most days it takes me about an hour to get home from work. I usually fill that hour with podcasts, NPR, or scanning through the radio. Until recently, I had unlimited data on my iPhone, so I would scan through emails, Facebook updates, and weather forecasts at every single red light. I never disconnected, I never was just there driving. Today, I decided to do an experiment. I would drive home without any distractions. I wouldn’t turn on the radio and I would keep my phone locked in my purse. I would allow myself that hour to reflect on my day and to think about everything or nothing at all.
I had a particularly stressful day today. I had to give a presentation in order to get approval for a large project and I only had an hour to prepare all of the documentation. People kept coming in and out of the office wanting to chit chat and there were distractions everywhere. I can’t say that I’m perfectionist but I take a lot pride in the work that I do, and I wanted to give a good presentation for my supervisor. I thought that my drive home would be a good time to reflect on my feelings toward the stress I faced at work rather than those 15 minutes when I’m tossing and turning before going to sleep. I did allow myself the time and space to think about my day, but yet I still felt very stressed. I noticed how it was nice to have that distraction to help me forget about my stressors. But is that forced forgetting necessarily a good thing? Or am I avoiding reality?
I was also very surprised how quiet Hollywood during rush hour could be. With music blaring in my car, I rarely have the chance to just listen to the flow of traffic and the noise in the world. I was kind of entertained by the gentle woosh of cars as they passed by. I allowed thoughts to come and go as they pleased. If I wanted to think about work, I’d think about work. I thought about this blog a lot and how on earth I would regularly generate content and I thought about my boyfriend. I knew that he had an important lunch this afternoon and I was eager to get home to hear how it went.
I want to continue this practice from time to time during my commute.I am curious to see how I would feel on a day in which I was not as stressed. Would I find the practice to be more enjoyable? For today, it was nice to have the time to just allow myself to just be.
Do you make time to spend time with yourself?