When I was 22, I was asked out by a customer at work. I was a waitress and he (for the life of me, I cannot remember his name) sat at my table one evening with his friends. We got to talking, and by the time he was paying the bill, we had exchanged numbers. We made a date for the following Friday. He seemed like a nice guy and I was looking forward to seeing where things could go.
Friday rolled around and I spent a few hours getting ready. I made sure my dress was ironed, my hair was just so, and my makeup looked natural. We were planning to meet at a restaurant for dinner in the Upper West Side at 8 p.m. and then go see that movie “Leap Year” with Amy Adams.
I was fashionably late and arrived about 10 after. I told the hostess I was meeting someone and she told me that no one was waiting but I could sit at the bar in the meantime. Okay, he was 10 minutes late too. No big deal. Another 20 minutes went by. Then another 10. I decided to text him. No answer.
The reality of being “stood up” started to sink in. A little stung and embarrassed, I swallowed the last bit of my prosecco and started to flag down the bartender for my check. But then I had this feeling wash over me and I thought “So, you’re just going to go home? You’re all dressed up. You’re hungry. And you love Amy Adams! Who cares about that guy?”
So I took myself out on the date that night, and to my surprise, I had a great time. I asked the bartender for a menu and ordered another prosecco. My steak frites arrived about ten minutes later. It was such a sight that it caused the woman sitting next to me to order the same thing. We started talking and she was fascinating. She told me how she was an artist and had lived in the neighborhood for 35 years. After dinner, I went to the movie. I bought popcorn and a soda and sat in the tenth row. It was the first of many “dates” I would take myself on over the next couple of years. I got to enjoy being in my own company and really started to have fun exploring new things independently.
I recommend everyone taking themselves out from time to time. I’m telling you, it’s a great way to get to know yourself: what you like, what you don’t, who you are, and who you aren’t. Doing things on my own boosted my confidence through finding new hobbies, new passions, and new interests. So here are five great date ideas when you want to take yourself out!
1. Go see live music
I love doing this on my own. There are some great venues in the city where you can pop in for a show. I like Rockwood Music Hall, The Duplex, the Knitting Factory, and Smalls Jazz Club, just to name a few. Most of the shows I’ve been to are free or are never more than about $25. It’s a great way to discover new artists and listen to some really talented people.
2. Treat yourself to a nice dinner
You can find any and all cuisines in New York City. Experiment a little — you might just find your new favorite food. Some people don’t like eating alone, but I find it fun. You never know who you might meet. Eating out on your own is also an awesome way to relax. I love finding a nice cozy bar, ordering a glass of wine and good meal and people watching. Sometimes, I’ll bring a book or listen to a podcast, but mostly I just like to watch the world go by.
3. Take a class
Ever been interested in pottery? Painting? Carpentry? Scuba diving? Sign up for a class! In New York, the opportunities are endless. If you have ever wanted to learn how to sew or act or use a pogo stick, chances are someone can teach you how to do it. Not to mention classes are a great way to meet people that share your interests. I have made so many wonderful friends from the various classes I’ve taken and even went on a couple dates with classmates! You never know.
4. Take a long walk (and bring your camera!)
Walking has always been a great way for me to collect my thoughts. Once I walked from my old apartment on 155th Street and Broadway down to Dumbo, Brooklyn. It took a few hours and I made several stops along the way for lunch and window shopping. I brought my journal along and every time I felt inspired, I’d find a place to sit and write ideas down. I also love to bring my camera on my walks and snap photos of anything unique or fun that catches my eye.
5. Spend the day moseying around a museum
New York has some of the most amazing museums in the world! My personal favorite is the MET. I studied Greek and Roman history in college, so I of course love the Greek and Roman Art section. The Morgan Library is another one of my favorites. In its collection are several original manuscripts from people like Charlotte Brontë, Beethoven, Henry David Thoreau and many, many more. Going to museums always inspires and uplifts me. Google free museum days in your area for ideas of where to go.