I was at a conference this week for work and I’m not going to lie you guys, it was rough. I mean they can just be rough, right?
Sitting all day in a usually windowless conference room - this particular one in a casino so it also smelled like stale smoke - surrounded by a constant update of generally the most sugar-laden food on the planet, and feeling forced into possibly my least favorite pastime…chit chat.
Then, of course, there are the sessions that you must attend. Theoretically, you’re there because you’re interested in them, but they become so increasingly difficult to pay attention to as the day progresses that even the most die-hard enthusiast can eventually be found scrolling through social media.
Needless to say that being surrounded by hundreds of people in said environment does not equal my happy place. So my typical modus operandi is to get outside and take a walk or, at the very least, find a quiet place to sit.
At this event, given the timeline, the only thing I could manage was to choose an empty table at the very back of the room as I scarfed some lunch. (Surprisingly, the chicken wasn’t bad!) Only one woman, who was aware enough at least to ask if she could sit, joined me. And thankfully she said nothing.
At the last session of the day, guess what? That woman was a panelist. And guess what else? She was a pharmacist like me. Dang! I thought. I missed an opportunity; I could have had a potentially cool conversation.
But hold the phone! I thought a split-second later.
What about the quiet-time I was seeking? What about the sanity I was trying to regain? What about the fact that I absolutely needed that time for me?
What about having a cool conversation with myself?
When I was in middle school I had this teacher who used to say it’s ok to talk to yourself because at least you know you’ll get an intelligent answer. This stuck with me through all these long years, but I don’t think I ever really grasped the importance of it until recently.
It’s important to have some time when we’re not taking in new information; when we’re not consuming anything. It’s important to have time to just be open and pay attention to what comes up, to listen to where our thoughts are going, to process those thoughts. To have a conversation.
This, my friends, is how we get to know ourselves.
And why do so many of us put so much less energy into getting to know ourselves than we do into getting to know other people? Why do we value listening to and engaging with our inner dialogue less than we do listening to a friend?
Think of it this way, when a friend is really there for you and listening to something you’re struggling with, what does that do for you? How does that make you feel? Seen? Heard? Supported? Loved?
Heavens to Murgatroyd, what if you could do that for yourself all on your own?
What if you could feel less alone when you’re having a tough time? What if you were better able to identify what you needed at a given moment and provide it to yourself? What if you really figured out what you want to be doing versus what you think you should be doing?
What if you could get excited and be your own best friend?