Yesterday, I was talking about having time to myself over the weekends to a good friend of mine, and when I got home I read The Minimalists' post on 'Alone Time' - thus I felt very inspired to write about having alone time.
Two years ago, I had zero alone time. I was constantly busy and on the move - after work I'd be meeting my friends for dinner, meeting other friends for supper. Weekends were spent in bars or clubs, and it was a back to back schedule of socializing with people. A typical weekend would look something like this :
Breakfast with Friend A.
Lunch with Friend B.
Tea with Mom if she was around in town.
Dinner with Friend C.
Drinks / Clubbing with Bunch Of Friends D.
Sunday would be another day of socializing (without the drinks) but it became extremely tiring after a while. I came to a point where I felt plain exhausted all the time. I never felt rested. I was tired constantly.
The breaking point came for me when I went through a very painful break up. Determined to patch my wounded heart, I surrounded myself with even more people in an attempt to be busy and forget the hurt. I had a lot of good girlfriends I could rely on, they would sit with me and they'd entertain my endless whining about my heartbreak - and they helped make it better. But, I remember very clearly sitting in a bar one night with a bunch of people, everyone drinking and being happy, and I felt never more alone in my life. Or rather, never more lonely. It's one thing to be alone, it's another thing to feel lonely. I think it's okay to get lonely when you're alone, but it's truly terrible when you're surrounded by people, by noise, by clutter, and you're feeling empty and lonely.
This is also the point where I started becoming a little bit more into minimalism. There was just too much noise. I couldn't think. I was never alone. My thoughts were influenced by my friends. They were by no means bad people, and I really like them. The problem was, I felt I was losing myself.
I started making a more conscious effort to be alone. I even scheduled lunches with myself and I learned to say no to outings. A lot of times, you go out because you feel obligated to. I decided I would only start going out with people if I really wanted to. Why put yourself through a very mediocre one or two hours with someone you're not really interested with being with, rather than spend the same amount of time on good quality time with yourself?
I'm not talking about dating here, actually. I'm talking about friends. You don't need to be everyone's best friend. You don't need to please everybody. At least, that's what I realized.
So I decluttered. People. Things. Toxic people, especially.
It's not a drastic change, what I did. I didn't suddenly go cold turkey off people. It was a slow, weaning off process. I healed slowly. I felt a bit more like myself.
Then I came to Singapore, where the amount of friends I have drastically decreased. I have a couple of really good friends here, but I've had loads of alone time since coming here. What I realized, though, was I actually needed a lot more alone time than I thought I did. It's been five months since I've moved here, and only yesterday, did I feel enough energy to go out and venture into the city and look at it with tourist eyes. For the past five months, when I wasn't travelling, all I was doing was sleeping on my weekends. It was a sleep marathon for me!
Now that I'm rested, both physically and mentally, I feel a lot more like myself. It's a strange feeling, to feel like yourself again when you never realized you changed in the first place. I used to laugh at the silliest things, things people found lame or not funny at all. I've started laughing again. For a long time, I felt so numb and jaded and desensitized with everything.
I also realize that when I'm pickier with my time, and pickier with who I be with, I'm better company. And I really enjoy the company I'm with much more. I'm not rushed from one point to another. I'm there as a person who genuinely wants to be there.
This feels good, and I'm happy.