Life

Why I Learned to Date Myself

I have a confession: as I write this, I’m sitting on my couch, drinking a to-go Banana Royale milkshake from an amazing burger bar just a few minutes down the road from my house. The restaurant is one of my favorite places to eat; they have gourmet burgers, fries, shakes, and drinks. My favorite burger combination is a turkey burger with Swiss cheese, mayo, avocado, lettuce, and I like to add on a fried egg. My side is usually sweet potato fries with a yogurt dipping sauce. My fruity drink is a coke with grenadine.

My husband isn’t a fan of said burger bar. He says the service is slow, the burgers are piled too high (“I can’t pick it up”), and it’s too expensive (“Fries are extra? What is this?”). Now, all of his points are valid: we could get cheaper, faster burgers with fries included somewhere else, but it’s still my favorite. So I save it for date night.

Usually when I talk about date night, I’m talking about going out with my husband. But every few weeks my husband leaves for some sort of church/work related weekend and I get the chance to go out. Sometimes my sister is available, so we head to the mall or go out to dinner, but some weekends I don’t text her, and I simply make plans by myself.

At 5:15 (had to go before 6 to get half priced fries!), I headed out by myself, made my way to the bar, and took a seat at the counter. I ordered my turkey burger, fries, and a coke. I was out for about an hour and a half. I didn’t go on Facebook, didn’t check my messages, didn’t even touch my phone. I did watch some random March madness game–I was at a bar–but besides that, I just sat there and enjoyed my thoughts and took in the world around me.

For a writer, this can actually be the best form of entertainment, and after I write this blog I am totally writing a story about the college girls who sat down at the bar next to me. Sometimes, it’s nice to just disconnect, to take in the people surrounding you.

I haven’t always been able to go out by myself. There were times when even waiting alone for someone to meet me was uncomfortable. I’ve had girl-friends tell me the same thing. A few months ago I told a friend that I was going to go see a newly released movie by myself. It was simple: I REALLY wanted to see it, and my friends and family either didn’t have the time, were too far away, or didn’t want to see the same movie. So I planned to buy a coke icee at the theater and take myself. She balked at me and said she would never think about going out by herself. She said she worried that people would judge her and wonder why she couldn’t find anyone to go out with.

I couldn’t help but think how many things she’ll miss out on in life by not being comfortable by herself!

The only person you can count on to always be with you is Jesus. And unfortunately, you can’t save a seat for Jesus and have a conversation with Him without seeming a bit crazy. In order to truly experience life, sometimes you have to do it by yourself. Not everyone is blessed with family that’s close by, with friends who live in the same area, with husbands who said “forever” so now they have to take you to animated Disney movies in the theater.  And that’s okay!

If the thing that worries you is that people will judge or pity you, let me tell you something: people are too selfish to care. They may for a second consider that you are alone at the bar, or that no one is sitting next to you, but more often than not they will look at the TV, or menu, or their waiter will come by and they will instantly forget about you. I learned this lesson through Zumba! When I first joined, I was so worried that everyone would notice what a terrible dancer I was. I worried for all of 5 minutes before I was sweating and staring at the instructor so I could concentrate on learning the moves.

I decided I didn’t care what other people thought of my sitting at the bar. I will admit, when I was surrounded by college girls drinking, I did flash my engagement ring at a few opportune times just to make myself feel better, but the chances that they noticed are minuscule. I went out to my favorite restaurant, on a night when my husband wouldn’t groan and have to tag along. I got to sit and slowly enjoy my food. I got to enjoy my own thoughts, and I got to intermittently talk to Jesus as I processed my day. Then I lingered over my check as I waited for my shake, and gave a big thank you to the bartender before I left.

I learned to “date” myself for these moments of reflection, peacefulness, and exploration. If you haven’t gotten the chance to do something you’ve always wanted, go now, and enjoy a few moments enjoying what you love by yourself.

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