“I would be happy, with or without you,” I said.
“How could you possibly be happy, without me?” he said.
Now before you think I’m cold for saying this, I really just was able to remove myself and look rationally at the bigger picture. And damn, was it a good thing to realize for the sake of protecting my happiness. My grounded-nature and comfortability in myself was simply at a different maturation then his. Under a romantic lens, his question was coming from a place of love. We did truly bring each other a lot of happiness.
But hey, I found that I am happy, just being me. I loved him, and appreciated him deeply in my life – but I was still happy, just being me. At times he stripped that from me to fill a personal void. He needed me to be happy. That’s a lot of pressure on a single person, especially when life get’s busy, or stressful, and you can’t be the happiness they need. It was this moment where I narrowed in on the idea of self-driven happiness – and realized its importance, especially as a young adult.
Could you spend a day, a week, a month by yourself, and truly be happy?
Let’s think a moment on what happiness really is. For me, I’d like to argue that it’s about how content I am with my personal identity and the life surrounding my being.
After a long while apart, I sat on my friend’s back porch catching up as we prepared for the beginning of our last year in college. We got on the topic of living arrangements. He lives with five roommates in a house; I live solo in a one-bedroom place. He finds deep comfort in the presence of his roommates; I find deep comfort in mindful silence. He asked me, “Don’t you think you’re going to get lonely?”
“Maybe. Sometimes,” I said. “But honestly, I’m truly content in this moment.”
“Hmm, I admire that. If I lived alone though, or spend too much time by myself in general, I would get depressed,” he murmured.
I just kind of sat there silently, perplexed by his reaction to simply spending a little ‘you’ time. I think there’s nothing wrong in relishing in the company of others, especially those you have a fond heart for, or have shared some of the most memorable moments of your life with. But, are they filling a void only you yourself can really get to the bottom of? Or are they supplemental to your personal happiness?
My challenge to you
Dare you to consider taking some time to yourself. Can you do it? Whether that be a few hours, days… perhaps even a week or two. Let your mind reflect and get to know yourself. Confront your demons, and take solace in your ability to rehabilitate. Cherish your strong suits and focus on taking joy in them.
As one of my good friend’s said recently, know yourself “extensively and intimately” before you attempt to do the same with others.
Mind you, I know it’s not so easy at first. If anything, it’s hard as hell. So here’s my thoughts in getting started:
- Start small – Getting the courage to go out and do something alone can be quite intimidating at first. With this in mind, and now as my friend, I’m telling you to start small. Venture out and do an activity you feel comfortable doing, such as a hike (with no headphones), or reading a book at the beach. You’d be surprised at how taking a few hours to yourself – free of distractions – can help you tenfold in feeling comfortable with yourself. All the sudden I find myself stumbling upon answers to my life challenges in these hours, and it’s great.
- Write and reflect – Get your thoughts out. Go old school with paper, or pull up a notepad on your laptop. For me, there’s something about signing my thoughts away on paper… it really makes them physical to me – tangible in nature. I took a few hours to write out my life focuses (health, career dreams and personal development) on paper. That reflection stands tall on my desk, a daily reminder of who I am and everything I have my heart set out to accomplish. Seeing my thoughts on paper helps me be a better friend to myself every single day, as I root for myself to continue on with determination.
- Invest in your passions – Once or twice a weekend, I turn down a social opportunity or a hangout to put some time towards one of my passions. I love catching up with my friends, but I really enjoy catching up with myself as well. Before I started doing this, I found that I never had any time to put toward my life-long hobbies and new interests. It was so frustrating, and I felt at loss with myself, as I was just an endlessly working student with a social life on the side. Now though, I make time to read books, listen to podcasts, go outside, paint, and write – sometimes at the expense of my social invitations. But I can’t tell you how much this has made me feel alive again, finding great self-discovery in my personal passions.
Personal happiness drives success in all external aspects of your life. If you can stand on your own two feet and be happy, next week I’ll introduce you to a special philosophy worth living by – the Law of Attraction.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this article.