Time to just be with yourself

When I was 20 I did a study abroad in Japan. You don’t realise it until you go to university in Japan, but it’s an extension of high school. I think that’s what happens when people are there as a rite of passage rather than of their own accord, but for whatever reason, as an outsider it was a very lonely time for me.

At the time I had one friend, who I still happily keep in touch with, but he had his own life and I was often left alone in my apartment. This was also because my university was a sports one and everyone was busy with their clubs (which is basically your life in Japan during this age), but it meant that I had to spend a lot of time with myself.

While I was there I was complaining to a good friend who wisely told me getting used to being in your own skin is a life skill we all need to develop. And in hindsight I’m extremely grateful for the experience.

Yamabushi training, swimming, climbing mountains, writing, video editing, coffee making, a lot of my hobbies these days revolve around alone time. These are all things I do simply for time to just be with myself.

Not only do these hobbies allow for creatively exploring my curiosities, they give me time to think and reflect.

It’s interesting because I could happily spend a day writing or editing video now, but I wouldn’t have been able to 10 years ago. 10 years ago I would be much more comfortable spending the day playing games, but that’s something I couldn’t fathom right now.

With things like social media, TV and the like, the constant bombardment of information designed to suck us in does suck us in, and it robs us of the all important time alone to simply be with ourselves. That is the biggest crime I feel, as we become unnaturally attached to externalities, when in reality that’s the opposite of what we should be doing.

So, my advice is to structure alone time in your life in a way that is creativity and curiosity-based. Not spending hours on end with your smartphone, watching TV, or playing games.

If you’re already doing that, keep doing it! If you aren’t, why aren’t you? What could you do to make it so?



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 


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