Embracing undistracted thinking to become more self-aware, confident, resilient, and eventually, happy
From 2011 to 2014, I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guinea (West Africa). Of the many life adjustments that I had to make, one of the most difficult was getting used to being alone.
What helped me get used to it is that, well, I didn’t have a choice.
I lived in a little house, in a little garden, in a little compound, in a little town in the middle of a little country with little access to electricity. Projects would ebb and flow, but in general, the one thing that I had an abundance of was time. Just, an utter abundance of time. Did you know that it’s possible to sleep too much? I found out that it is indeed possible. It turns out it’s quite difficult to sleep 12 hours a night every night, in fact.
Not only is it possible to sleep too much, it is also possible to read and write too much. Soon my brain would wander and I would catch myself reading the same paragraph over and over without anything registering. There was no television or internet or social media to fall back on to occupy my mind.
So, I would sit.
Just sit and let the mind wander naturally. I would have some light music playing from my iPod and watch the light from the candles flicker on the walls. I would look out the window at the unobstructed stars and moon.
It ended up providing the very thing that is so difficult to find in the States — undistracted time.
It is this time that allowed me to grow so much personally. When one lets the mind wander, it’s amazing where it will go. I ended up thinking deeply about, and challenging myself on, otherwise unchallenged, yet defining, components of my life.
The meaning of life, God, religion, my path, my mistakes, happiness, my privilege, my place in this world… to name a few.
It was not easy, but I can emphatically say that I am a stronger, more confident person because I went through it. I challenged myself harder than anyone else could challenge me, and my resulting self-awareness has become a tangible, valuable asset.