It might be hard to believe, but a recent work trip to Canberra was a huge awakening for me. I’m 28, I work full-time, I have a dog who depends on me and I'm in an 8 year relationship with my partner and have an amazing group of friends and social life. Life is pretty damn good. I think the 24 hours I spent alone on this work trip though, was a reminder of the saying ‘you have to get out of the jar to see what contents are in it’. The situation I’d found myself in was that I was very much… in the jar. It’s a happy jar, a fulfilling jar, but it is enclosed… and it took this work trip to get out of it for the first time in a long time and take a look around me.
Following a tumultuous year in a job I hated, I landed my dream job and have spent the past 12 months absolutely spinning with happiness. I’ve been in a whirlwind of social events, developing my relationships and planning my wedding. I didn’t know that I was neglecting time with myself, but getting away from all of these external factors reminded me of that. I got out of the jar. Now don’t get me wrong, I spend plenty of alone time in my daily life. I ‘tune out’ and listen to podcasts on the train to work, I ‘wind down’ watching reality tv of a nighttime. But what I realised as I was up in the air without connection to any of these vices, is that the way I have been spending ‘alone’ time is actually not alone at all. Opening my phone and checking social media is a flood of influences, messages, reminders, distractions and is an energy vacuum. Watching TV doesn’t leave me alone with my thoughts. Even replying to messages from friends and family opens me up to taking myself away from the present moment in.
After my work requirements were complete when in Canberra, I thought to myself – I could either go up to the hotel, order some room service and relax after a big day of travel and working. OR I could utilise the short time I had in this new city and go and explore with the limited amount of sunshine I had left. I chose the latter, and am incredibly glad I did. I asked the receptionist for recommendations on where I could wander, she directed me to Lonsdale Street. A quaint street lined with leafless trees, graffitied walls and the cutest gift stores you could ever dream of. As the sun got lower behind the buildings, I strolled down the street in absolutely no rush at all, perusing the shelves of these beautiful stores. I bought myself my wedding earrings, a new hat and some chocolate covered peanuts to enjoy back at the hotel. After this I took another casual stroll back to my apartment, where I decided it was then time to wash the day off, order some room service and get tucked up into bed to watch some reality TV on my laptop.
A kids cheeseburger and churros arrived with a knock, and I snuggled up in my hotel bed and enjoyed every single bite. There wasn’t anyone I had to debate what to eat with, or what to do. I had complete freedom of choice and opportunity to decide for myself what I really felt like doing. After a 5-star sleep, I awoke to my alarm and was surprised to see how dark it still was outside. I thought – I could set my alarm for later and enjoy a sleep in, OR I could wrap myself up in my blankets and go watch the sun rise on my balcony in 6-degree weather. I chose the latter. Again, I was not disappointed. As I watched the sun rise over a nearby mountain I did not sit on my phone, I instead looked up at the sky and reflected on how I’d felt over the past 24 hours. I felt like I was really navigating life through my own lens and using my own mind to make decisions on what is best for me.
It's to no fault of the ones I love around me, it’s just a fact of life. When we are in the company of others we are often taking on their thoughts, feelings, emotions and energy. It doesn’t take away from how much I love spending time with my fiancé, friends and family. But it’s a reminder how important it is to take time away from your ‘jar’ and get outside of it. Go and explore alone, think alone, make decisions on your own. Strike up a conversation with the shop assistant, get to know strangers in the lift. Get your head out of your phone and the constant race to be somewhere and checking off some never ending to-do list.
You are more than doing loads of washing, running a household, tending to others needs. While I understand a certain degree of this is a requirement of life, it should be done in careful measures so as not to completely overwhelm and consume your life. The simple act of not reaching for your phone in a moment of solitude can do a lot for your mind. The world is always wanting for your attention and your energy, it’s up to you to protect that and to look for the things in life that will inspire you and feed entire being. We are put on this earth to explore, to learn, connect and to love. Next time you’re feeling like you’re under the weight of all of your responsibilities and obligations – I recommend taking at the very least, one night away on your own. Go somewhere you want to go, eat your favourite foods, read a book, put your phone down and take it all in.