Hi.

I'm Sarah, a Seattle- based writer, artist, yogi, dog-lover and outspoken feminist. I like books, wine, and gray days. Hope you'll stay and hang out for a while!

Make time

Make time

I am a person who needs a great deal of "me time."

I think I've pretty much always been this way, even as a little kid. Most people who know me would probably label me an extrovert. According to the Meyers-Briggs test, I am an ENFJ - but barely. Only by the tiniest, nearly-nonexistent margin am I more extroverted than introverted. I spend time alone almost daily taking walks, going to the gym, writing and journaling. Days when I don't get any alone time, I tend to feel a bit anxious and stir-crazy. I frequently take vacations by myself, and sometimes stay solo in a hotel rather than with family or friends.

Over the years, I've gotten a lot of different reactions about my need for alone time. Most people who know me think it's great, but some don't understand why I wouldn't want to take every adventure with a loved one by my side, or why I might rather spend an entire Saturday by myself than with friends. Sometimes, people are jealous or resentful about my solitary time - maybe because they don't understand, or perhaps because they could really benefit from some me-time of their own and either can't have it or don't know how to ask for it. Some people just aren't comfortable spending a lot of time by themselves, being their own date to a movie or dinner, traveling without the help of a wife or friend.

I've experienced guilt about this in the past, and wondered if my taking so much time for myself is selfish, if I'm doing something wrong. That guilt is completely unfounded, because in the end, this time is vital for me to recharge in order to be the extrovert people expect. It's what makes it possible for me to be supportive to the people who need me, present in the social situations I excel in, and creative in my work. Not to mention that a lot of the things I am passionate about, writing in particular, require concentration and quiet time. Writing isn't something I can do in a room full of people. I need space to do my work and to flex my creative muscles, as well as to heal my anxious mind.

One of the most important lessons I've learned in the past couple of years has been that as much as we have responsibilities to the people who love us and rely on us, we also have responsibilities toward ourselves. Self-care is not only important, it's essential, and without it, we cannot succeed in jobs, in relationships with others, in our goals and passions. Only in the past year or two have I focused on myself in any deep and meaningful (or honest) way, and that's because introspection is often painful and difficult. But nothing worthwhile ever comes easily, does it? It's only through self-work that we can grow stronger and be better for the people we love.

In order to be the most authentic version of ourselves, it is so necessary that we let go of the guilt that comes along with meeting our needs. There's no shame in asking for a break, or some time to yourself. I find myself wondering why I didn't do this years ago, how my anxiety and stress level might have been lessened by admitting I need some things that are just for me in my life. What's important is I can see what I need now, and I have the strength to ask for it, and the courage to spend more time with the most challenging date on the planet - myself.

So maybe you're saying, "Yes, I sense that I could benefit from some time to myself - but I don't know how." It's easy. Many of the things you like to do with other people are also fulfilling - sometimes more so - on your own. I love to go to the movies, and as it turns out, it's quite pleasant to go alone. You don't have to argue over which film to see, or share your popcorn. I used to hesitate to go to pubs or restaurants alone, thinking I'd feel exposed or that strange people would talk to me (this does happen sometimes). But I just take my journal or laptop or a book and it's super relaxing to be out and about without the stress of having to hold up your end of a conversation. And there's really nothing more awesome than an entire hotel room to yourself. 

Give it a try. Take yourself on a date to do something you really want to do, something you have always thought about doing but no one else seemed interested in. See how it feels. It might take a few tries, but in the end I hope you find the same comfort and ease with yourself that I'm learning to enjoy.

Reach

Reach

The stallion

The stallion