Recently, I found myself with a weekend void of plans. I had nowhere to be and nothing to do. So, I took myself out on a date. I traveled into the city and spent the day perusing the hallways of an art gallery before trotting — albeit hesitantly — off to a cafe for lunch. It was my first time going out on my own for the sole purpose of a leisurely afternoon. Not a trip to the grocery store, nor running errands at the mall. My afternoon had no purpose other than spending quality time with myself. The verdict? It was both liberating and empowering. Especially for the anxious introvert that I can sometimes find myself embodying.
Like with any form of solo travel, spending time exploring on your own might feel intimidating at first, but once achieved, it can leave you feeling refreshed, accomplished, and inspired. From the bigger milestones of solo overseas trips to the smaller ones such as dining alone, going out into the world on one’s own can unearth hidden emotions and allow you to learn more about yourself. It can even — when done regularly — teach you life-changing lessons. In order to set you on the right path and get the most out of taking yourself on an epic date, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind.
Make a basic plan
The thought of venturing out on a solo excursion can feel daunting. To ease a little of this pressure, come up with a basic plan prior to leaving the house. If you aren’t used to it or have never done it before, solo wanderings can be akin to traversing unchartered territory, and you might find yourself rushing home too soon if you step out with no idea or location in mind.
First, decide where it is you would like to go. An ideal place to start is with something that you wholeheartedly enjoy, something that piques your interest, and which doesn’t rely on the company of anyone else. Choose an activity in which you can selfishly revel, without the pressures of others’ opinions or time constraints. It might be going to the movies, or to a cafe or restaurant you’ve had your eye on for some time. It could be a hike or a pottery class. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that nourishes your soul and makes you feel good. Doing things that you love on your own can be an important and healing act of self-care, so start by identifying what they might be.
Take your time
Next, take a deep breath and don’t rush. This time on your own is for you to alleviate stress, not elevate it. Solitude might be one of the best gifts you can give yourself, so don’t be afraid to wallow in it for a while. Actively take in your surroundings and go at your own pace. Find your rhythm for whatever it is your date has to offer: whether that be staying in a museum for hours on end because no one else is itching to leave, riding the tram to the end of its route just to see the sights, or relaxing in a coffee shop for an afternoon of book-reading and people-watching. When you take a step back and allow yourself to simply be in the moment instead of rushing through it like we so often do in our day-to-day lives, you’ll get more out of your date than you ever imagined. Think of it like a warm bath for your mind that will leave you refreshed and confident — try not to cut yourself too short of this precious time.
Aim to make a conscious effort to disconnect from the buzz and chaos of your week when spending time with yourself. In the day and age of constant connections with others, we rarely get the chance to simply sit and be with our thoughts without distraction or streams of conversation. While your earphones, book or phone may be a familiar comfort to resort back to at times during your solo date, be sure not to get lost in them the entire time.
When spending time alone, think quality over quantity. It’s all too easy to pick up that vice and start messaging friends, making emails, or taking phone calls (or pretending to take one — anybody else?). But in those moments of silence, we allow ourselves a deeper level of thinking. A meditation of sorts. Being alone with our thoughts lets us think about what makes us truly happy in life. This is a time to recharge your mind, build mental strength, and even spark your creativity, all the while knowing that it is an important life journey you are embarking on: one to be blissfully content with your own company. There is a liberating sense of confidence that stems from being alone without being lonely. Don’t be afraid to try it.
Push yourself outside of your comfort zone
We all know that the comfort zone is a warm and cozy place. However, that very comfort comes from the avoidance of drastic change, heightened stress, or uncomfortable situations — all of which can be associated with dire negativity by an anxious brain. But in order to not get carried away with fears of the unknown, we should endeavor to change this mindset. After all, only once we’ve stepped outside our comfort zone do we give ourselves the opportunity to learn and evolve, to get stronger and more adaptable to all that life throws at us, thereby cultivating self-confidence.
Once you’ve invested in more frequent, quality time alone, you can open doors to more stimulating and exhilarating solo dates. By pushing yourself to attend a class you had previously thought you might never do, taking up an adventure sport, or setting sail on your first solo trip, you allow yourself the opportunity to discover something you love and explore interests you never knew you had. Spending time alone can be an oasis in the middle of your busy life. Explore it, bask in it, delve into your own passions, and in the process, map out the kind of life you want to live in this world.
Header image by Andrew Ly