A few weeks ago, I did something I haven’t done in a really long time. I was kind of excited and I wasn’t sure how I would do, but I thought I’d just go ahead and go for it.
I went on a date.
Now, just as a reference point, my last serious relationship with someone was about 5 years ago. After that relationship fell apart, I made a firm decision to completely focus on my work and my career before I even attempted to get into another relationship. During that 5 year period, I’d done a little dabbing here, a date or two there, but nothing that ever got close to being serious. So, you could say I was definitely rusty.
That day, I went and got a haircut. I even went to Target and bought a new outfit to wear for the night, just to kind of freshen things up a bit. I spent the whole day listening to music that would lighten me up, make me smile, and get me feeling loose for the night ahead. At around 6:00 (Our date was set for 8:00), I showered up, dressed up, and finished getting ready. Looking at myself in the mirror, I was definitely feeling sharp.
On the drive down, I was feeling really excited. Having not really done anything like this in a while, it felt like I was getting into something completely fresh and new. You know how, before you do something or before something comes up, you get the feeling inside that tells you, “This is gonna be awesome”? That’s exactly how I felt. Inside, I could feel that tonight was going to be a great time. The whole drive down, I had a big smile on my face. I felt great.
I get to the restaurant at around 7:40. I hate being late for things, and I figured I’d be all gentlemen-like and get there ahead of time to greet her.
The waiter approaches me. He must be having a great night as well, because he’s got this huge smile on his face and he seems genuinely happy:
“Hello sir! My name is Kevin and I’ll be your server for tonight.”
Me: “Hey Kevin. How are things tonight?”
Kevin: “They’re fantastic, thanks for asking. What can I start you off with to drink?”
Me: “Well, I’m on my first date in a long time and I’m really excited. What kind of drink would you recommend for me to kind of kick start the night?”
Kevin (Laughing): “I got just the thing for you….”
Kevin comes back with a tall glass of something that looks ominously very un-alcoholish. After one swig, I realize it most definitely is very alcoholish.
8:00 rolls around. I had taken my time finishing my drink and I was just now finishing it. I check my phone. No missing text messages or calls. So, I patiently wait.
You can see where this is heading…..
At around 8:30, I tried calling her. No answer. I sent her a text.
“Hey, hope everything’s ok. I’m here inside to the left as you come into the restaurant. Let me know if you need any help getting here or anything.”
And, again, I wait patiently.
9:00. It’s at this point I get what’s happening. I’m being stood up. Could be intentional, could be unintentional, but I’m being stood up.
Kevin comes back and asks, “So, where’s the date? I hope everything’s alright. Can I maybe start you out with something small to eat while you wait?” I tell him, “Give me about 2 minutes and I’ll let you know. Thanks Kevin.” He says, “I understand, sir. I’ll be back to check on you in a couple.”
I’m obviously a bit disappointed. I was really looking forward to everything, especially considering all the preparation I did.
But, it was at this point where I had a decision to make. Do I let what’s happened destroy my good mood and ruin my Saturday night, or do I take it for what it is and, perhaps, try something I’ve never done before, but always wanted to do: Have a date with myself!
Kevin comes back: “So, what are you thinking? Would you like to eat, or would you like me to close you out now?”
Me: “I’ll go ahead and order Kevin. Let me get the grilled salmon with garlic mash potatoes. No veggies though!”
Kevin (Again Laughing): “Yes, sir. I’ll put that in right this moment.”
As I’m waiting for the meal, I start to do something I hadn’t done before while I was waiting for my date to arrive. I took in the scenery. The restaurant had a beautiful, almost mystical kind of décor and atmosphere. I people watched. From afar, I become absorbed into others conversations simply by watching them laugh or by interpreting their body language. I noticed the staff scurrying along. I looked outside and I saw rows of people walking down the street, many hand in hand. I looked up. There were these golden brass lanterns hanging from the ceiling by a thin, almost silk-like metal chain. It was a beautiful place.
I finished my meal. It was incredibly delicious. It also helped to prevent me from becoming completely wasted off of those two tall drinks that Kevin had given me.
Kevin: “Here’s your check sir. And, just let me say, I enjoyed serving you. Sorry about tonight.”
Me: “What can you do? Shit happens, right? Thanks again my man. You were great.”
I leave my tip, and I walk out.
Now, from here, I had another decision to make. Do I head home, head between my legs, or do I make the most of everything?
For the rest of the night, here’s what I did:
-Went and got Ice Cream
-Looked at some retail shops
-Went to a Pub
-Relaxed at a cigar lounge (Didn’t smoke, but the chairs were awesome)
-Went for a casual walk
-Saw a late movie
In all honesty, it was a really, really awesome night.
I often find myself doing things on my own. I love to be with myself in my own space and really immersing into my own activities. But, the idea of going out alone always kind of frightened me. “Who the fuck goes out on a date with themselves? That sounds horrible.” I’d say to myself. Truth is, it was really refreshing. You notice more. You become immersed in other people; their conversations, their body language, their facial expressions. You get connected with the environment around you. You notice these little things that make up life that you normally would take for granted.
The experience made me want to make a list of all the things I love doing alone:
-Casual walks around my neighborhood
-Driving in my car
-Going to the Beach
-Going for a beer
-Going grocery shopping
-Going to the Movies
-Taking my dogs for a walk
Thinking about this, I’ve come to a great conclusion:
Being alone can be a fantastic thing.
Loneliness isn’t something to fear. I think it’s important to learn to be ok with being alone. Here are some of the benefits for embracing being alone:
Getting to know yourself more intimately
“Who am I really?” “What makes me tick?” “What makes me feel good and what makes me feel like shit?” “What are my strengths and what are my weaknesses?” By spending time with yourself, you can learn to enjoy your own company. You can learn more about yourself and what makes you, you. Lastly, you can grow. Try doing things by yourself that you’ve always viewed as a challenge, and see if you can overcome them. If you don’t, keep going. By learning about who you really are and by trying things on your own that you’ve never done, you to get to know yourself more intimately, you become more confident and certain of yourself, and you grow into a bigger and better version of yourself in the process.
Learning to appreciate everything that’s around you
Ever spend some time alone going for a walk? When you do, you notice things: The trees, the breeze, the birds, the cars, the homes, the kids playing outside, and the little gravel in the road. You become more connected with what’s going on around you, and you immediately take in and appreciate things you normally took for granted. People watching is a great exercise. If you go somewhere by yourself, watch others. Become immersed in them by watching their conversations, their body language, and their mannerisms. Read their facial expressions. People are beautiful when you look at them from the outside in, and you start to notice we all have these common things that we do that connect us together.
However, the most important benefit of being alone is this:
The chance to truly love yourself
When you spend time alone, you give yourself the chance to appreciate who you are and to love yourself. You learn to love your own company. You connect with yourself in a way that you can’t get when you’re always looking for connection from an outside source, whether that outside source be someone or something.
Once you learn to love yourself, being alone becomes easy. You don’t feel like you need someone or something outside of yourself to feel happy or satisfied. And the truth is, you don’t. Happiness always comes from inside of us. Lasting happiness doesn’t come from something or someone. Any time you put whether or not you allow yourself to be happy in the hands of things you cannot control, you immediately lose control of being able to be happy in any moment you choose.
The fact is, loving yourself and becoming happy from the inside out is the absolute best way to connect with others. People become drawn to you because Confidence and Happiness radiate outwards. The key is in finding the balance between spending time alone and spending time with others. Too much of either can be a bad thing.
I used to hate being alone. Now, I love it. It gives me a chance to really connect with myself, appreciate me, and to love myself for who I am.
If you’re in a situation where you’re constantly alone, or you constantly feel an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, you have a decision to make:
Option 1: “I’m so alone. This is terrible. I hate being alone. I need someone. I need something. I’m so unhappy.”
Option 2: “I’m going to use this chance to get to know myself better. I want to learn about who I really am. I want to get to know me. Actually, I love being by myself. I love spending time with just me.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love being social and around others. But, there are times when I don’t get the opportunity, and I have to be alone, such as a work trip. Or, perhaps I was in a relationship with someone, and the relationship fell apart. I know I don’t need to feel all distraught and destroyed, because I have myself as my foundation to which I can rebuild. I simply choose to love and embrace the chance to do so. You get to make the same choice. You have that power, no doubt about it. And, the option you choose is going to determine how you feel. One will make you feel like shit, the other will make you feel fantastic. How would you rather feel?
If you’re feeling lonely right now, try it. Go for a walk. Take in everything around you. Feel your steps. Look up at the sky and see if you can see a picture in the clouds. How many different colors of flowers can you spot along the way? Is there a breeze? How warm/cold is it? How many different kinds of cars can you count along your walk? What kinds of outfits do you notice other people wearing? How do they look? Sad? Happy?
If you’re feeling lonely in your life, you’re not. You’re just not paying attention to the person who needs that attention most: You!
Life is out there, but it’s also within you. In fact, it starts with you. You don’t have to hate being alone. Love yourself, and love spending time with the person you see in the mirror every day. It can be such an unbelievably satisfying feeling. After all, that’s the person who you have to live with every single day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You might as well learn to love them and get to know them.
Live Passionately, Friends!