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Whenever I went out by myself – whether it was to meet a friend for coffee or just running an errand – I always felt like I was being judged for being alone.

In our society, there is a stigma attached to doing social activities by yourself. Because of this, people can feel a sense of shame when they do things by themselves. It can feel like we have failed at finding someone to do things with us, that people will think it’s sad that we aren’t with others.  

There is truly nothing wrong with being alone though! It’s not shameful – in fact, taking yourself out on dates is an act of self-care and love. It’s important not to let the fear of being alone, of being judged, hinder you from doing the things you want to do. Spending time with yourself outside of your home environment can be a way to get in touch with yourself, and it can be fun. You don’t need to compromise. It is solely what you want to do, and that can be very empowering. 

Just remember that when you do go on your solo date, you should try to be fully present. If you’re on a date with somebody else, you wouldn’t space out or be on your phone – show yourself that same courtesy. Give yourself your undivided attention. Try not to be self-conscious about being alone – if people are judging you for it, it’s most likely a reflection of their own insecurities. If the activity you’re doing isn’t fun, then go do something else. You don’t have to give anybody excuses. 

Here are some date ideas for your self-care routine:

Go for a walk

It can be dangerous to do things alone in Cape Town, so go for a walk somewhere you feel safe and at ease. Going outside and being in nature for even a little bit can do wonders for your mental health.

Have a beach day

Pack your sunblock, water, a towel, a good book, a journal, or paints, and head to the beach for some time in the sun. Pack some snacks and a bather so that you can enjoy the sea air and try to relax by watching the waves.

Bike ride on the promenade

Take a scenic ride along the promenade and enjoy the view. Afterwards, you can treat yourself to some ice cream or anything else your heart desires. Be careful if you order chips though – those seagulls are fearless and probably want those chips as much as you do.

Go to a gallery/museum

It can always be worthwhile to immerse yourself in art. Often, in galleries and museums, we’re bound to what the people around us want to do. If they get bored and want to move on, we can feel obligated to just follow them. Going by yourself allows you to appreciate the artworks the way you want to. You can take as long as you’d like. It’s also a major main character moment.

Spend time at a restaurant

Eating out with friends can be really fun, but all the talking can detract from the experience of eating itself. And if you’re the one talking, and the food arrives, the next thing you know, your food is cold and you’ve barely touched any of it. When alone, practice mindful eating and appreciate the food in front of you. While you’re waiting for it to arrive, read a book or journal, or doodle – try to stay away from your phone so that you can unwind. 

Picnic at Botanical Gardens

As I’ve mentioned before, being in nature is really beneficial for mental health. So head to Kirstenbosch or Green Point Park, appreciate the beauty around you and relax. You can pack yourself a picnic, a book, paint supplies, a journal, or whatever it is you like to do to unwind.

Take a class

If the idea of doing something super solitary is a bit much, maybe taking a class is a good idea. Sign up for a dance class, a cooking class, etc: there are endless options. You’d be learning a new skill, and there’s also a chance to meet new people.

Volunteer

Research a cause you’re passionate about, and go volunteer there. It’s a great way to feel productive and helpful, as well as to see the positive impact you’d be having on the world. 

Go watch a movie

If you don’t like people whispering in your ear, maybe going to watch a movie by yourself is a good idea. It means no distractions, and a chance to immerse yourself fully in the film.

Read at a café

Grab a book, buy a beverage of your choice, and go read at a cafe. If you get bored, choose a table by a window and people-watch. It’s always fascinating to observe passers-by as they go about their lives, and flit through yours.

Travel

This might be the most challenging thing to do on your own, but if you want to do it, go for it. It can force you to realise some things about yourself, and learn new things too. Experiencing the world in this way is a certain kind of freedom, and you never know who you’ll encounter along the way. Always exercise caution, however: single travellers can be easier targets. Travelling is the most prolonged solo-date, but perhaps the most rewarding.

I'm an aspiring writer and editor majoring in BA English, Linguistics and Media Studies at UCT. I love literature, reading (when not prescribed), poetry and the power words carry. I'm into the academia aesthetic and I love a good cup of tea.
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