I take myself on dates. I go to the movies alone. I wander museums alone. I eat meals alone (and yes, that means I resist all temptation to scroll through Instagram while waiting for my meal). I sit in coffee shops and journal alone. I take the train and go to new towns and walk around alone.
I realize this may sound super dorky. You're probably thinking that I must be pretty weird and very lonely. Interestingly enough, I was way more lonely before I started spending time alone. The feeling like I needed to be around people all the time to take a deep breath -- that was loneliness. The feeling of complete anxiety and fear when a boyfriend broke up with me -- that was loneliness. But this? This is peace. This is fun. This is what self-esteem is built of. Here's how I learned to spend time alone.
1. I just did it. And let go of trying to look "cool".
2. Make a list of your favorite things. And don't wait for anyone.
3. Schedule It. And don't cancel on yourself.
For the past year, I've been single by choice. Not by circumstance. Not because no one will ask me out or I can't find anyone eligible. It's hard for some people to believe that I am choosing not to date, and I often get weird looks and confused grunts from my old aunt and college friends alike. Why would someone voluntarily choose to stay single? To spend time alone? Aren't I missing out on life by not going on Tinder dates? What if The One is out there but I don't catch him because I'm too busy staying single?
I'm not the slightest bit embarrassed to say out loud that I've been dating myself and it's been the most nurturing, sustainable, and non-anxiety inducing relationship I've ever had. There's no waiting to be texted back (or obsessing about if my text is too flirty, too needy, too wordy), and there's no feeling like another person just doesn't understand me.
That doesn't mean I don't plan on dating other people in future -- I definitely do. But I know now that the relationship I've built with myself is a model for the relationship I want to be in. I'm kind and patient and gentle and loving and forgiving of myself. I laugh at my mistakes and I let go of my errors. I am strong and courageous. That's the kind of person I want to be with and the type of relationship I hope to be in.
I know now that I'm not going into the relationship as a half, I'm going in as a whole. So whether it works out or doesn't work out, deep down, I haven't lost anything. I'm still me. I'm still complete. I still have the friendship I've built with the me that I've grown to know and love over the past 23 years. That's the greatest relief I've ever known.