The Selftertainment Project

A person that is content in their own company lives a more interesting life.

– Me, when coming up with an excuse to not go out

Up until COVID-19, I never thought of being alone as a skill. I’m not talking about alone as in single, not in a relationship, or without friends. I think that the environment and the people that surround you have the utmost importance in your life. But the physical ability of being on your own for extended periods of time, not needing someone to spend time with and someone to depend on for your self-image and feelings, is definitely a skill.

During covid I finally realized how many people just never had the chance to stay alone with themselves for a while. Listen to your own mind, feel your feelings, get into your thoughts, just get to know yourself, you know?

I think this is an important ability to have in your arsenal. Not only will it benefit your mental health and cure you from boredom, but it will also benefit your relationships! It’s way easier to understand other people (and teach them about you) when you understand yourself.

Is it a magic pill? No. Will it lead you to enlightenment? Also, probably, no. Still, I think that getting to know the only person you’re definitely stuck with for life is a good use of your time.

My Experience

I think it’ll be pretty accurate to classify me as your classic introvert. I don’t have social anxiety, but I do find social events to be draining my energy rather than filling it up. Ever since I was little I would make up stories and think of various ways to entertain myself until my parents came home. As a side effect, it was also pretty easy for me to come up with games in social settings as well.

I was obsessed with writing and having a journal/diary ever since I learned how to write. I also have a burning passion for art and office supplies – it’s really the chicken and the egg situation, who knows what came first. This has inevitably led to me being obsessed with productivity for the last… decade or so (oh god, I feel old…). I experimented with many techniques and habits, but one thing I was never able to keep up with is meditation.

It’s mentioned in every book, every guide, every morning routine video out there. From “the miracle morning” to the latest influencer’s “a day in my life” vlog. I just can’t do it. My thoughts race in my head, and I am just unable to grasp the whole “acknowledge it and let it go” thing. I barely realize I’m thinking and there’s already a train of thought passed by, lucky if only one.

However, what I can do, is I can paint. Not, like, professional artists or anything. I’m just able to get lost in the process of dipping the brush in paint and then putting it to paper. With time, practice, and a lot of mindfulness, I was able to replace meditation with painting. And honestly, I now understand why people rave about it.

This just reinforced my belief that being alone with yourself is a skill. Being able to marinate with your thoughts, without running away, without distractions – it’s hard! There’s even a study about this, in which people would rather electrocute themselves than just *be* for 15 minutes. When I started therapy, this idea of “being” was super annoying to me. The therapist said that I need to give myself space to be upset, for example. Or that I need to sit with something and let myself experience it rather than suppressing it. Well, these aren’t very tangible actions, are they? I mean, how do you “give space” to something ephemeral? It used to drive me mad. Eventually though, I realized that it just happens. If I create an environment in which it can happen, it will.

Obviously, this is not a solution for every mental issue out there. Not even for most of them. But I do believe most people would benefit from having true “me time” with themselves. Not watching Netflix or playing video games (super guilty of that last one, to be honest with you). Not planning a productive week or tidying up your physical space to ignore the mess in your mental quarters. Finding a direct line to communicate with your own mind is priceless.

Why Would You Need It?

If any of the things I’ve mentioned until now peaked your interest, you probably already know why you’re still here. But in case you’re on the fence still, here’s some groups of people that could benefit from this podcast.

People that are constantly bored if they’re not hanging out with someone/consuming some type of media. I’ll talk a whole lot about dealing with boredom, finding hobbies, and developing practices that will make boring moments a lot more bearable.

People who want to consume less and create more. I’m working on this shift myself, and I believe it has a lot to do with being content in your own company. We often avoid creating and/or sharing our creations because we think we’re not interesting enough (“not good enough” falls under that category as well). However, I believe that every person out there is interesting, it’s just that they need to see it before the world can.

People who chase personal development but see little to no results. It’s hard to develop in a direction that has no meaning to you. Maybe you think it has, because you can rationalize it, but do you believe it? No better way to find out than dig a little deeper.

People who feel they don’t have anything to contribute in social settings – kind of the same as people who think they don’t have anything to share. But in this case, I think it’s even more helpful. Being able to have flowing conversations with yourself definitely lends in to having more interesting conversations with others.

Finally, a little disclaimer – or why this may not be for you.

This is no therapy. If you’re experiencing (or have experienced) harmful thoughts in the past, potentially self-harmed or considered it in any way, if you think your own mind might be out to get you – this is not the place to seek help. You’re welcome to stay, maybe some practices or ideas will even help, but I am not qualified to speak on such matters.

On that note – this is no professional digest. As the title says (and the second reason I picked this name) – this is something I’m doing to entertain myself, based off of my own experiences. I hope it might help some people, but I wouldn’t depend on it any more than I’d depend on a stand-up comedian to heal my dysthymia and ADD. Everything on the internet should be taken with a grain – nay, a boulder of salt, and this is no exception.

Another thing not to expect from this podcast – there are no directions on how to become a successful writer/creator/philosopher in here. If you’re looking for an action guide for the tangible life achievements, that is not it. I believe some of my ideas and insights might ease the resistance to working for what you want to achieve, but there’s no 10-step-process-to anything, really. For that goal, you’ll definitely be better with a coach on the specific topic you’re trying to master.

You’re still here? Great! Happy to see some of this tangent resonated with you. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on the matter, and answer any questions you have – please leave a comment telling me what do you think! If you’d rather DM me, I’m most reachable via Instagram DMs at @anyuta.petrenko.

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