Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Life > Experiences

I Took Myself on Solo Dates for a Week: Here’s What I Learned About Myself

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPR chapter.

It all began one day in September. A new coffee shop had just opened up around my neighborhood, and I, wanting to romanticize everything I can, decided to go. When I get ideas like this, my first thought is always to invite my friends and go in a group. It’s my last year of university, and there’s nothing I want to do more than spend the little time I have left with my friends, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, where does that leave me? Or rather, where does that leave the relationship I have with myself if I can’t do anything alone? This is why I challenged myself to be my own friend and invite myself out on dates for a whole week, to see what I could learn about myself, and to see who I am when I’m left to my own devices. 

DATE ONE: Coffee Shop

As I mentioned before, it all started with me wanting to go to this new coffee shop in my neighborhood. It looked so cute and the menu was inviting. I had to go! But after asking my friends if they wanted to accompany me, they were all busy doing their own thing. For a split second, I thought,  Well, I guess that means I can’t go… until I heard my thoughts and asked myself “Why not?”. And in that same split second, I changed tracks, not toward my apartment, but to the coffee shop. This impulsive decision led to the biggest adrenaline rush at first, until I gave the barista the wrong coffee order and dropped some change on the floor–embarrassing things that only I would find embarrassing. The coffee shop was not at all empty.  In fact, the tables were bursting with groups laughing, playing table games, and gossipingー my three favorite hobbies. This made me even more self-conscious than I already was, but I promised to stay until I had at least finished my coffee and brownie. When I tell you those were the most anxiety-inducing 10 minutes of my life, I mean I couldn’t even bring myself to play music on the headphones I already had on because I was so overstimulated. Needless to say, I ran out of there as soon as I finished, and though this seemed like a failure, I left that coffee shop proud that I took the step to even go in there by myself. 

Date Two: Dinner and a Movie

I knew after my mini-fail of a first date, I needed to take a step back and assess what really made me uncomfortable about my excursion. I eventually concluded that I was not confident enough yet to be alone in public without feeling paranoid about it. So for my next date, I decided to take myself to my favorite place and sanctuary– my room. I canceled all of my plans for that day and decided that I was going to take the time and make my comfort meal and watch a new movie. I took my time preparing my meal, really making sure it was something I wanted to eat, listening to music, and focusing on the fact that everything I was doing, was for myself. I ate while watching a string of new movies I had been meaning to watch, and while I felt content and happy, I felt like I had been cheating on the experiment. There was no risk involved and felt like a normal Tuesday night. The only “risk” I had taken was not rewatching my comfort films, and that seems as risky as taking training wheels off of a bike. 

Date Three: Book Browsing

Now that I had established that being in crowded spaces alone made me paranoid and that being alone in my room was cheating the experiment, I thought I could reach a middle ground by browsing through the bookstores in my neighborhood. I knew it wouldn’t be as crowded as the coffee shop, but it was still in public. So with no real plan and a craving for book shopping, I headed out. And at first, my anxious thoughts betrayed me, constantly thinking about the fact that I had too many books, that I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, or that I was just tired. I came up with every excuse not to go, but my feet swept me to the first bookstore. No one was there and I was swallowed by the mountains of books, so I put on my headphones and began browsing– obviously romanticizing this experience to train my brain into thinking I’m having a good time. And eventually, I didn’t need convincing. I got into the groove of moving through the aisles, asking my inner self what I wanted to read, and just enjoying my own company. I won’t lie, I felt awkward when I realized I had been in there for half an hour and had yet to commit to a book, so I grabbed the first one I knew the title to, bought it and went on my merry way. And though it wasn’t long, and I went home to FaceTime my best friend to show her what I got, it was a lot more than I had to show for my first date, which I was proud of myself for. 

Date Four: Table for One

This experiment began with an impulsive decision, and while I was still iffy about where it was going, I knew that the only way to get through it was to stop overthinking and just do what my brain wanted to do at the moment. So, the next day, after I had gotten off from work, once again, instead of my feet leading me home, I was taken to a restaurant near my house, and I told myself I was going to sit down and eat alone, no matter how many people were in there when I walked in. Thankfully, the place wasn’t too crowded but there were more people than I felt comfortable with at that point. Regardless, I sat down, asked for the menu, and ordered. I was determined, and at this point, I looked around and no one was even paying attention to me, so what did it matter? Instead of doing what I would usually do to avoid any singular thought from entering my brain, I stayed off of my phone and focused on eating and being with myself. At first, the silence was uncomfortable, and I felt vulnerable being the only one at the table, but I found myself forgetting about the fact that I was alone. Suddenly, my plate was empty, and I was walking home with my stomach and my heart full. Even though I felt awkward at first, I didn’t even notice it by the end, which was a win in my book! 

Date Five: Back to Coffee 

 At this point, even though I saw my friends every day, I missed doing things with them instead of telling them what I had done. But I wanted to feel secure in public by myself, so I went back to the beginning. Before class, I decided to get some work done at the coffee shop where this idea was born. Even though I was still feeling that adrenaline anxiety that plagued me throughout this entire experiment, I wanted to prove to myself that I could feel confident by myself. This time, I didn’t mess up my order and no change hit the floor, so I was already improving from my first experience. There weren’t as many people as the first time, so I felt more confident in picking out a seat and playing music while working. And though I felt a looming feeling while I was working, I felt proud of myself because I wasn’t crawling out of my skin, anxious to get out of there as quickly as possible. 

The Aftermath

After five days and a lot of trial and error, I was proud of going further than I had anticipated. So here’s what I learned about myself: I like my alone time, but I cherish that alone time by being on my own, and not in situations where I feel like I’m being watched or judged by everyone else. Being a woman didn’t exactly help this experiment either, as being alone made me hyperaware of my surroundings at all times, something that I don’t have to worry about because there’s most definitely safety in numbers. Another thing I learned about myself is that I cherish my time with my friends and family dearly. Even though I was alone, I always let my loved one’s into what I was doing. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I’m in the most transitional part of my life, so feeling like I was wasting precious time alone when I could be spending it with my friends, especially as someone whose main love language is quality time, was the most difficult part of this experiment. I’m glad I went through with it, and I’m glad I know I have it within myself to be my own best friend. 

Luisa Colón is an undergraduate student at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus where they are currently working towards a BA in English Literature with an emphasis on Contemporary Literature. Besides the usual long walks on the beach, she enjoys reading romance novels, updating their bookstagram, and starting (but never finishing) crochet projects.