I used to be deathly afraid of anybody seeing me eat alone in public. I was scared of looking like a total loser in the eyes of those around me at a cafe or restaurant, worried that I would receive pitiful glances as I sipped my latte in silence. Such a mindset is far from uncommon. Our brains tend to play tricks on us, revving up the engine of our nervous system to convince us that every glance and interaction with someone out in public is a moment of judgment.
I’ve come a long way since then. I can proudly say that I no longer feel awkward, uncomfortable and out of place when I’m out and about with just myself as company. I’ve come to realize that people are more concerned about themselves and how they appear rather than with others. Even in those cases where someone is acting judgmentally, I’ve learned to not let others’ limited views and beliefs define me. The other day, as I was scrolling through my TikTok feed, I saw a video with the caption, “maturing is realizing that it’s okay to eat alone.” I smiled to myself and reflected on the self-growth it’s taken for me to arrive at that point.
As social creatures, we tend to derive a lot of value from spending time with others. Of course, this isn’t an inherently bad thing. The problem arises when we aren’t able to be happy and relax without other people around. When we place our whole sense of self on external relationships, we lose sight of who we truly are as people. For that reason, I believe it’s important to take yourself out on a solo date so you can grow more intimately connected to your true self. If you’re not convinced of the value in “dating yourself” already, here are a few reasons why you should test it out.
Know your self-worth
If you’ve ever planned a date before, chances are your intentions were to make the other person feel appreciated and taken care of while also having a great time filled with wonderful memories. It’s time to do the same, but for yourself. Show up for yourself and treat yourself like the king or queen you are. Take yourself out to your favorite restaurant, go plant shopping, make a vase at a pottery studio or pack a picnic and eat it by the water. The possibilities are endless. While on your solo date, make sure not to have your eyes glued to your phone or act like you don’t want to be there. Exude confidence and security in yourself. Even if your self-esteem isn’t as high as you’d like it to be right now, adopting the “fake it till you make it” mindset when dating yourself can help boost it in the positive direction. As you would on any other date, take the time to get to know the other person (in this case, yourself), show compassion and find little details and quirks to fall in love with.
Do you always find yourself relying on others to have a good time? What happens when those people you always go out with are busy? Rather than sulking and moping around your room, exhibit independence and self-sufficiency by taking yourself out. Going on solo dates helps build independence in more subtle ways as well. For example, let’s say you can’t find your car keys after hiking at Point Reyes. Since you’re by yourself, it’s up to you to find a resolution to the issue. There’s no one else to blame but yourself. By taking accountability for your actions, you’re also more likely to build systems to avoid making those same mistakes in the future. As the cliche goes, on your deathbed the only person guaranteed to be there is yourself. For that reason, it’s important to learn how to rely on yourself and trust yourself to resolve issues and make the right decisions.
Learn more about what you love
The people who we spend the most time around play a large role in shaping our personalities, mannerisms, quirks, likes and dislikes. Again, it’s not an inherently bad thing to be shaped by those around us, but oftentimes we may find ourselves “enjoying” an activity, music artist or fashion style just because our friends do and we want to fit in. In order to gauge our passions, interests and who we really are, we need to spend intimate quality time with ourselves. Furthermore, if we always need another person to tag along in order to explore a new activity or interest, we may never get around to actually doing it. Let’s say you really want to try skiing, but your friends are all either busy or not interested, so you decide not to go on that ski trip to Tahoe. You could be missing out on experiencing one of the best trips of your life and unearthing a new hobby you’re passionate about. Don’t prevent yourself from life experiences that you may end up falling in love with just because you don’t want to do them alone.
What are you waiting for? Grab your agenda and start brainstorming date ideas that you would love to take yourself on. It’s time to treat yourself and learn more about the version of yourself that hasn’t been influenced by others.