Alone Time: Why “You” Time is Fun and Important|
As Lyndsey Nolan has pointed out to Levo recently, the ability to take yourself out on a date is a very valuable skill. Just like any other skill, being able to be by yourself and with yourself can be learned and practiced.
Going to the movies by yourself, eating dinner in a restaurant or even – the Olympic gold – going out by yourself is easier said than done. Inevitably, you’ll feel like people are looking at you, wondering if you smell or have some other problem that makes you have no friends. If you’re not firm in your pursuit of solace, you are basically just a weird loner who only got lost on the way to buy cat food for her 47 cats.
Sometimes you will probably feel like standing on a chair and yelling at everyone that you are not a complete weirdo who has no friends, while waving your smartphone to show everyone your 1,427-person Facebook network.
Like every first, your first movie or dinner in a restaurant on your own might be awkward and uncomfortable. But don’t let that discourage you – all you need is a plan and the right attitude.
Do you have what it takes to spend quality time alone?
Even though it’s a good start, going to the gym and shopping by yourself don’t really count as “alone time.” For some reason, these are easy things to do without anyone around: we are usually occupied, and sometimes it can be nice not to have anyone looking when fifty sets of push-ups are reduced to one quality push-up, or when we try to squeeze ourselves into those skinny jeans in a changing room.
Once the social aspects of an activity become the main focus, things get tricky: eating, going to a movie and going out are difficult to do alone because enjoying someone’s company is often the reason why we do it. We can eat by ourselves, watch TV by ourselves, drink or dance by ourselves. But if you happen to be the “dancing with myself” type, you probably do most of that in your house (or apartment). Doing these activities outside of our homes usually means we want to socialize, catch up, celebrate something and enjoy other people’s company.
Humans are social animals. We feel safe and secure in groups. But people often mistake being alone with being lonely. They’re not the same thing. You can be alone without feeling lonely. And the advantages of spending some time alone are backed up by science: research has shown that we tend to remember more about the activities we experience alone, forming more intense and longer-lasting memories. Doing something by yourself by choice can be liberating, empowering, and confidence-boosting. Life is all about balance, and being away from your friends and family will make the time spent together all the more precious.
So there is no reason not to make some plans with yourself, is there?
Rules for Dating Yourself:
At the Movies:
What makes it easier:
- Avoid opening weekend-there’s nothing that’ll ruin a perfectly good evening out like someone else’s six-year-old snotting into your popcorn.
- If you’re new to the “movies by yourself” game, avoid Friday and Saturday nights to downplay the couple-fest that’ll be going on due to other peoples’ date nights.
- Pick non-peak hours at the movie theater. That way, you can pick your favorite spot to sit. You won’t have to fight for arm rest space, and you can sit through the credits and until the cleaning crew arrives.
What makes it easier:
- Sit at a bar or a small table.
- Don’t go to family restaurants where you have to sit in a giant booth by yourself – too much pressure.
- Don’t go on a holiday. If anything, surf restaurant week schedules.
The best things:
- You can order whatever you want. Five appetizers? Go for it. Three main courses? Whatever. Seven desserts. Seven desserts. Seven desserts.
- If you are not used to dining in public alone, bring a book, a notebook or a magazine to fall back on. Especially while you’re waiting for food to arrive, having something to do makes your time much more pleasant. You probably only get so many napkins for practicing your origami skills.
- You can also watch other people but it’s a fine line between observing and staring.
Note: Don’t keep yourself busy the whole time. You’ll miss the sights around you.
At the Bar:
This is the Olympic gold of doing stuff by yourself. It’s not for everyone. Here’s what I do:
- Pick a location that you know and somewhere where you’ve been before. If you’re experienced, pick a new place.
- Tell yourself you only have to stick it out for half an hour – about how long it takes to order a drink, drink it (like a lady), go to the bathroom, and leave.
- If you’re really feeling uncomfortable, or if someone’s looking at you sideways, you can deflect by looking at your watch or your phone every now and then. If someone if wondering what your deal is, it will look as if your best friend just stood you up or you were in the wrong bar all along. Trust me, having a fake excuse somehow helps!
- Bored? Bartenders usually like to talk to people– and if you are lucky, you’ll meet some interesting people. If not, pat yourself on the shoulder and pick up some ice cream on the way home.
Photo Courtesy of My Own Paris.