Dating Yourself: My Experience with Enjoying Time Alone

There’s a reason why people say there’s a difference between “being alone” and “being lonely.” No one likes feeling lonely, but choosing to spend some time with yourself can be rejuvenating. Hanging out with friends is fun, but sometimes it can be a little tiring to always be pleasant and sociable. Especially in college, where it’s likely that you have at least one roommate around, it can be hard to find some time to recharge and get some “me time.” There can be some discomfort about wanting to be alone, but my spring cleaning task this year is doing away with fears of what people will think of me when I do what I know is best for myself.

I’m not a person who particularly enjoys trying new things alone. When I’m going to a new restaurant for the first time, I always prefer to have a friend order first so I can have some social cue to follow. I also have zero sense of direction, so if I’m going to an unfamiliar place, I like to have a friend as a guide. Obviously, relying on other people to always lead the way for me is not a great mindset to have. This year has been all about working on my independence—speaking up for myself, taking control, and trying new things.

I’m now glad to report that taking yourself on dates is a truly liberating thing. I always feared the social stigma behind going somewhere by myself. I didn’t want to look like a loner or be judged by friends for wanting to take myself on a solo adventure. It took some time for me to learn this, but eventually I came to terms with the fact that I live in a huge (and exciting) city. No one is going to think twice when they see me out by myself, doing my own thing without a group of friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love exploring new things with my friends. But sometimes, there’s adventures you need to take by yourself, and that’s totally acceptable.

I recently tried out this idea when I took a spontaneous trip alone to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It’s a destination I’d wanted to visit since I first came to Boston, but it just never panned out. I was home alone on a sunny Saturday afternoon and I figured there’s no better time than the present to check an item off my bucket list. What followed was a really refreshing day that allowed me to enjoy the scenery around me without feeling like I was holding anyone up. I could reflect on the pieces I saw for however long I wanted, and no one was going to stop me from contemplating whether I wanted a mug or a canvas bag from the gift shop. It was a time to clear my head and explore my city without feeling like I was dragging anyone along.

I think taking some time away from the pressures of friend groups and social clubs is an important part of self-care in college. I consider myself more of an introvert, so alone time feels necessary for my mental well-being. Even if you’re more outgoing, it can still feel freeing to go on your own adventures. While I’m not some totally independent, go-getting girl quite yet, my spring cleaning task this season is to rid myself of the idea that spending time by myself is a bad thing, or that I’m antisocial. “Dating yourself” teaches you a lot about yourself and your needs, and being able to clear your headspace for a few hours can really change your outlook on life. Relationships with others are important, but self-love is a goal that I think we should all strive for.