I date myself, a lot. I take myself to the movies, dinner, bowling, on vacations, you name it. Sound weird? You're not alone! I can't tell you how many times I get told "Oh, I could never do that" or "you have so much confidence to be by yourself!" or "that sounds so nice, but I would be so uncomfortable". Honestly, I was one of these people several years ago. It's hard not to be when you're raised in the South.
Dating myself has been so life changing for me that this is my SECOND post on this topic (see past instagram post)! This conversation keeps coming up for me, especially as the self care topic has gained in popularity. Taking yourself out to dinner, as an example, may sound silly and trivial but it speaks volumes about your ability to be comfortable with yourself. With only yourself. No phone, no book, no journal. Just, be. I'm not going to lie, it is a challenge! This was one of the biggest tests I ever experienced that gauged my self-sufficiency and independence. We live in such a fast paced world between mobile e-mail, articles posted hourly, text messages, etc. that it is no wonder finding stillness and intentionally slowing down is HARD. And doing it without any distraction to calm that anxious energy? Even harder.
Why is dating yourself important?
Self-love. It helps set a very important narrative and coaches your mind to believe—you are worthy, valuable, and lovable. Many of us are aware of this concept, but it's so difficult to put it into practice. This is where dating myself has become a saving grace. Unfortunately, being, eating, living alone is a social taboo in the Western world that is often confused with loneliness. A lot of people worry about being judged for enjoying their solo time. Thankfully, the concept of self-care has become popular with the hashtag "treat yo self", but this is often mistaken for self-love. The good news is that the more you intentionally sit with yourself without any distractions the easier and more enjoyable it becomes. Will it feel awkward at first? Hell ya it will! I felt like I was crawling out of my skin and even asked for crayons and a kids menu at one point to have SOMETHING to occupy myself with (not sorry, actually).
You can always start off small. You don't have to jump right into an hour long dinner with yourself at a popular restaurant where you will likely get odd looks and eventually pull out your phone to "save" you. Instead, you can prepare a nice meal for yourself with that bottle of wine "you've been saving". Just make sure you don't plop yourself in front of Netflix! Try setting out some candles, sit at the table, and take in the moment of preparing for and serving yourself.
One of the first dates I took myself on was at the movies. Evan didn't want to see a chick-flick, so I bought a ticket in the nice reclining chairs and went anyway. I made it extra special by bringing a mini bottle of wine, chocolate covered almonds, and my throw blanket (yep, I was THAT person in the theater). It was great and I felt oddly accomplished and proud when I got home. Since then, I've expanded upon this concept. Not only do I take myself on small dates, I take myself on full-blown VACATIONS! And no, Evan isn't invited when I need a vacation with me, and no, he doesn't worry about it (I get asked this a lot too).
That time I backpacked Europe alone as a female
One of the best things I ever did for my personal growth was backpacking Europe alone one summer. It was terrifying, exciting, thrilling, and calming all at once. As you can imagine, I rarely had a dinner date outside of the occasional conversation with an older gentlemen who would have MANY stories. Side note—an added benefit of dining alone was that it allowed me to engage with locals in a more meaningful way, adding more chance occurrences, spontaneity, and experiences and throughout my travels!
After a while, I got tired of taking food to go, sitting at the bar, or eating in a haste so that I wouldn't "look lonely". Oh, and I ran out of books in English and did not have a cellular data plan (can you even imagine that today?). Thankfully, my months of traveling solo forced me to address this insecurity (and many others) in more ways than one.
By the end of my journey, I learned more about my self than I knew was possible. I learned that I value and treasure “me time”. I valued it so much that I found myself opting for the quieter hostels and dinners alone instead of joining my peers for drinks. I also learned that I am comfortable being on my own. That journey was the first time I ever experienced something so significant, entirely alone. I did not have a single contact or friend on the ENTIRE continent when I stepped foot off of my flight. Talk about terrifying, lonely, and a valuable tool for learning to trust myself. But the personal growth that came from that life changing experience was that, I learned that I will be okay if I’m all I ever have.
More than anything, the journey taught me that I don’t NEED anyone to survive. Once I got to that place it was so wonderful to fill my life with people I WANTED. The most important lesson that I had to learn at that point in my life was that I didn't have to be with a man to be happy (more on this story later). And it's okay to say that I don’t need my husband. But I want him. And as long as this is the case, I know that I am living and loving the best version of myself. No matter who she is at that moment.
Stay in tune with yourself
Every so often I will check in with myself. I date myself to see how I'm doing. I want to continually create an energy about me—confidence—that attracts like-minded people. As long as I find myself desirable and worth spending time with, so will others. And how beautiful would it be if we could all set this example early for our daughters, mothers, and friends, and truly teach them the comfort of fulfilling your own needs.
If you ever see myself or someone else sitting alone at a cafe or restaurant, do not feel sorry for them or judge them as lonely. Be proud of them and celebrate their independence. If enough people treat this concept the same way, we will have much healthier people working with us, engaging with us, and supporting us.
Be true to yourself. Make time for yourself. Love yourself.
-- Bre Brown
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