It's no secret that dating these days is next to impossible. There are so many rules and to-dos and not-to-dos and never-EVER-dos. You have to play the game without being a player and always be three steps ahead while simultaneously falling back, so the person you're into won't know that you're into them.
A headache is what it is.
After getting out of a long-term relationship and being thrown back into the "dating scene" (if you could even call it that), I was totally blindsided and quickly overwhelmed by how messy it was.
After many failed attempts at finding love that only ended in frustration and bewilderment, I decided it was time to do something. I decided I would date myself.
I know, it sounds ridiculous and a little confusing... OK, maybe a lot confusing.
And trust me, it felt even weirder. But I powered through, and I honestly grew so much from my time with myself.
I started out simple. I went to the mall to window shop and treat myself to some Chinese food. It wasn't super weird during the window shopping part because I've frequented malls on my own in the past. After about an hour, I decided to head to the food court. I fought the urge to scroll through my Instagram feed or call a friend because I would never do that on an actual date, and I had to get it into my head that that's what this was.
I got my food (bourbon chicken with the fried rice and green beans, for those of you that were wondering) and I located a vacant table. I sat down, painfully aware of how alone I was and started eating. Slowly, I stopped judging myself by every person's glance my way. It became less weird. And on the drive home, I actually thought to myself how enjoyable the time I spent alone was.
I was ready for things to get a little more serious.
For my next date, I took myself to one of my favorite places in the world: Spruce Street Harbor Park.
Now, at first, I was kind of nervous to do this. A young girl, alone in the city at night. But I swallowed my fears and realized that many people were alone in cities bigger than this all the time. So I paid the parking fare and ventured into my night.
It could not have been more perfect! The weather, the atmosphere, the sights and the food. My favorite place in the world became so much more special to me because for the first time, I wasn't distracted by anything else. I wasn't trying to keep up a witty banter or impress anyone.
Instead, I walked around and took everything in. I developed a new appreciation for not only the views but for myself.
While at first this little experiment of mine had seemed daunting and unsettling, I was now starting to look forward to my dates.
For my third date, I decided to take myself to the movies. This was probably the roughest situation for me. Everyone goes to the movies with someone, it's scientifically proven (I mean, not really, but it's a known fact). But I powered through.
I walked in and purchased my singular ticket, then proceeded to my seat. I got settled in with a Sprite (I had eaten before I came and I'm not really a fan of popcorn) and kicked back. I felt super self-conscious throughout the previews, as everyone else came in pairs or groups or families. I kept my eyes fixated on the screen, and (surprise, surprise) no one gave me a second look.
As the movie began, I got into it like I would any other time in the theater. By the time it was over, I had almost forgotten that I was alone. Even more than that, the word didn't seem to weigh me down anymore.
On my journey home that night, I reflected on what I had learned in the past week. I'd proved to myself how easy dating can be... when done the right way. I also learned that I don't need a relationship to be happy.
I am fully capable of loving myself in all the right ways.
In fact, it's something I want to continue and plan to make a weekly event of.
Dating doesn't have to be complicated, and being alone doesn't have to be so taboo.
There is power in being your own person, and there's even more power in loving that person the way you deserve.