There comes a time in life where we find ourselves, well, not to be dramatic about it, but alone. We find ourselves completely surrounded be people who feel like strangers and we never feel like we quite belong anywhere. Maybe we stayed at home and friends went away to universities. Maybe you just drifted apart and there wasn’t anything to resolve because there wasn’t anything there anyway (and be honest with yourself because this happens all too often and you know it.) Maybe you just ended a relationship that either lasted too long or not long enough, and you built your identity around BOYfriend or GIRLfriend instead of being a GOOD friend. Whatever the case may be, you now find yourself twiddling your thumbs with no clue what to do. It sucks. I won’t feed you some pretty and cliché line. I’ll be blunt. It sucks major, and all you want are people who accept you, and let you be weird and quirky without talking about you in hushed voices, or keeping secrets from you, or not including you in the group message. (It’s the little things.)
But I’ll tell you, my friends, while it totally sucks, if you were looking for a time to mature, you’re about to be given a whole lot of time all on your own to do so. I’m leaving my hometown in the fall to finish my last two years of college, and even though I spent some time moping around, I grew to learn so much more about me when I took the time to hang out with myself. I perfected the Me Date.
Perfecting the Me Date takes some courage. You have to first accept the fact that, yes, you are alone. It takes a bit, so don’t get discouraged when you still feel the ache in your stomach and the loneliness in your heart. Being alone can be quite strange for some people. As a true introvert at heart, I didn’t mind being alone, but at the same time I wanted to be around the people I loved and cared about ALL THE TIME. That’s a common misconception about introverts, that we want to be alone all the time. Not true. We’d rather be alone than stuck in a situation with people we aren’t comfortable around and we definitely can’t stand being over-stimulated, but once we grow to love and care about someone, we are desperately attached and literally can’t function without their interaction. We’re those people who continuously send texts in group messages even though no one is responding. (There’s always one.) My friends thought I was annoying I’m sure (probably still do,) but I couldn’t help it. I craved human interaction, but not just from anybody, only from them. (Introverts, ya feel me?)
After several months of wallowing, I took a step of courage. From my experience, I have narrowed down the top three most common places for Me Dates that you need to try out.
1. The coffee shop: Come on. This one’s easy. Take a book, order your coffee, wear your best “I’m single and here ordering coffee alone because I’m independent and don’t need anyone to accompany me because I’m perfecting my Me Date” outfit. Maybe you’ll snag the hottie blending your probably way too complicated order. He’ll find your confidence endearing with your nose in a book. Don’t give him too much of the flirty eyes, though. You’re doing you, so stay focused!
2. The movie theater: CRAZY, RIGHT? Wrong. It’s honestly not that bad. Yeah, it’s kind of embarrassing at first because you’ll see somebody you know and they give you the “oh, you’re here alone” pity look. Forget that. You are independent and you don’t need their sympathy. So, put on your worn t-shirt and ponytail, and march right up to the box office and say, “I need one for a 4:15 showing, and another for a 7:00 o’clock, and yes, I know it’s Valentine’s Day, and a large popcorn, too. EXTRA butter.” (This is a true story. I braved the movies on Valentine’s Day and had a double feature all on my own. If I can do it, so can you. I’m like the biggest wuss on the planet, so trust me when I say it’s not that bad.)
3. Your favorite restaurant: “Oh, look at that poor pitiful person eating all alone, getting the appetizer AND dessert all to themselves,” said LITERALLY no one ever. Maybe the elderly get that look in restaurants, but you are not old, and you are perfecting your Me Date. The perfect Me Date consists of not having to share any of your food with anyone, so who’s the real winner here? You can order whatever you want and not be judged (except maybe by the waiter, but their working for tips, so it’s safe to say they’ll keep their judgement to themselves.) You won’t feel embarrassed if you get 4 refills on your large Diet Coke, and once again I say, and this is the most important part, DESSERT ALL TO YOURSELF. If that doesn’t sound like Heaven to me, I’m not sure what does. Go to your favorite restaurants. Treat yourself. You also don’t have to put up with meaningless conversation with someone you consider a “friend,” but is more like an acquaintance because honestly that can be so exhausting.
Maybe it’s to a football game, or to the plays at the theater downtown, or the mall, or a simple walk around the park. Your perfect Me Date is somewhere if you only have the courage to get over yourself and find it. I’ve found my favorite Me Date is going in a bookstore all alone, laying out all my options in the middle of the aisle floor, and going to town. I spend hours in there and don’t have to worry about others getting bored or having to abide by someone else’s time schedule. Also, it helps that there’s a cute guy that works behind the coffee bar. And I can give as much flirty eyes as I want because I’ve perfected my Me Date. You have not, so don’t get any ideas.
And yes, being alone sucks. Not always having someone to call up and go waste time with sucks. Having the most texts in your phone be from your mom isn’t exactly the social life you always hoped for either. Friends come back, or new and better ones are found. But I think it’s important to know that until you are 100 percent, utterly in love with yourself and can be alone without doubt, you will never be whole and completely present in the company of others.