That’s not really the right phrase, is it? A “date” implies another person, and “taking yourself on one” makes it sound like you’re doing the abnormal thing, like there’s something missing from what you’re doing.
We can go the other way, and say it’s a “date” because you love yourself and you’re pampering yourself, and half the articles I’ve read on the concept say you should masturbate during it, but that just sounds exhausting. Self care? More like who cares!
I just want you to go somewhere alone and enjoy it. I don’t care where (although of course I’m gonna suggest some places). I don’t care when. I only care that it’s you and you’re happy.
And we’re not going to talk about why you shouldn’t take anyone along (“no one to coordinate plans with!” “No one to mentally diss your outfit but pretend they like it!”). And we’re not going to go over whether “other people will think you’re weird”. First of all, if I bring it up you’re going to worry about it, because we remember negative stuff better than positive stuff. Second of all, of someone sees you alone, happy, engaged in something? They’re actually going to think you’re super cool and they’re going to wish they had the idea to do stuff alone too because it looks like fun.
So, some positives of going somewhere alone and enjoying it:
- You build your love for yourself. You learn to enjoy your own company.
- You build your confidence. When you’re out with someone, you’re focused on them; when you go out alone, you’re free to say hi and smile to whomever you want, whenever you want. And you can find out that it gets less scary as you keep doing it.
- It’s cheaper!!
- You can be truly spontaneous. You’re suddenly hungry? Go eat! Want to stop and look at a flower for a while? Good! Do it! You’re cold and want to go home? Super! Good night!
And that last point brings me to:
What to Pack
Since you’re able to change your plans based on how you feel–heck, since you don’t have to plan at all–you need to pack stuff for everything you think you might want to do and everything that might come up. So maybe your bag is bigger than a clutch purse; it’s fine. You’re prepared.
Here’s what’s usually in my bag:
A book (sometimes my Kindle–definitely the one with the e-ink screen, because a backlit one will be hard to read in sunlight)
A notebook and/or sketchbook. (And pens!!) A sketchbook or a book with multiple types of paper would be best, if you don’t know whether you’re going to be drawing or writing.
Are you going to want to journal about what you’re doing? Take down snippets of dialogue you overhear? Write random notes and leave them in (non-littering) places for people to find? Want to just concentrate on the project you’re working on? Then you need a notebook, or at the very least a notes app. (You could also go all the way and get this word processor that I’ve been coveting. But paper is also good, and never needs batteries.)
For drawing, you could try urban sketching! It’s a great way to have a visual journal, and to learn about the place where you live. You can also just observe people and draw them as references for your next project.
My knitting. Do you have a portable hobby? I actually started knitting a long time ago because I was a weaver, but I couldn’t take my loom out with me on walks. A sock is a perfect project to stuff in a bag! You can also spin (with a spindle), needle-felt, crochet, and lots of other options. You could also take along a handheld video game system, a small musical instrument, or whatever other packable thing your hobby requires!
A snack! I’m diabetic, and walking is exercise that can sometimes make my sugar drop. You don’t have to walk if you don’t want to or can’t, of course! For me, though, it’s the only way I can get anywhere alone. Whatever way you travel, you should still take some food, just in case. You want something with protein and complex carbs (cheese sandwich?) and something with simple carbs (candy! I mean uh fruit) to cover any situation you might get hungry in.
A sweater. I’m super fond of thrift stores, and a few years ago I had amazing luck finding cashmere sweaters in them. They’re thin, so they fit in my bag, but they’re also natural fiber–one of the warmest ones, due to the structure of the hairs–so they’re a great layer. But any sweater that’s thin enough to stuff in your bag is good. Take one even though you don’t think you’ll need it!
In this same category of “stuff for when weather happens” are: sunglasses, hat (baseball or slouchy, seasonally), gloves and scarf, sometimes extra socks… you get the idea.
A little jar or other lightweight, nonbreakable container. Something like an empty pill bottle, a spice jar, a snack size Tupperware. It has to be able to close securely too. This is for little treasures you might find! In my case, it’s for sea glass and shark teeth and small bones. For you, maybe a flower you’d like to preserve, or a cool rock! (Know your laws; if you’re walking in a national park or nature preserve, don’t take stuff, for example. Also, if you’re in the US, don’t take feathers.)
You can also use small containers like this for glamourbombs–not glitterbombs, but the old school kind where it didn’t have to contain actual glitter, just something that makes the finder’s day a little more magical. But again, don’t do this in a place where it’s littering.
A trash bag. For the stuff you find that isn’t such treasure. Doggy bags are good for this, because you can get a roll of a million for a dollar, they all fit in your bag, and you can pick up like one can, knot the bag, and take it to a trash can without touching it. Be the change, baby.
A battery pack/charger for your phone.
Your meds! Especially if you’re not sure how long you’ll be out.
If you’re doing an errand while you’re out, don’t forget to take the stuff you need for that. Why yes I have gotten ten minutes down the road and realized I forgot the Etsy package I needed to mail, yes.
Water! Use a refillable bottle if you can, of course, but you know that. Make it electrolyte water if you’re prone to low salt and blood pressure issues, or if it’s hot out.
Okay, I’m Packed, Where Do I Go?
The easiest way, the way of old wanderers, the way that takes the least thought, is to just go out your door, point your feet in a direction, and go. When you use up half the time (or energy) that you planned to use, turn around.
Maybe there’s a park near you that you’ve never really explored? Maybe there’s some land that no one really owns? Some big woods or a riverbank? Explore!
Maybe there’s a coffee shop you’ve never been able to convince anyone else to try? A museum where you’d like to be able to stand in front of a painting for a while, instead of getting pulled along too fast to appreciate any of them? A quirky movie date you’ve always wanted to try?
Maybe there’s a shopping center with no signs that say “no loitering”? A comfy bench? A wall you can perch on without getting yelled at?
And of course there’s movies, dinner, shopping, hiking, sporting events, farmers markets, concerts. There’s stuff going on in your town that I could never even imagine. Be safe though–don’t go somewhere alone if it’s not a sensible place to go alone.
All my main suggestions have to do with finding somewhere to sit, you’ll notice. Both because I need to sit a lot, and also because that’s basically the most fun thing you can do alone: sit and watch other people. For the drawing and writing reasons mentioned above, mostly. But also because it’s important to get bored sometimes.
Your life needs space in it. Being alone is a way to get some space (which is nicer when you have not-being-alone to need space from, but anyway) and being alone and still and just existing when everyone is going past and being busy is a way to make that space more apparent to yourself.
You also need space from being busy. You need space from your quotidian life. You need space for your creative brain to spread out and relax! And people-watching, or nature-watching, is an excellent place to allow that to happen.
I know I said above that you don’t have to walk, but if you can, I recommend it over… most things in the world, really. It’s good exercise and it’s good for creativity and problem solving. As the saying goes, it really makes you think. Most of your favorite authors have a walking habit, or something similarly monotonous.
Damn, Girl, You Really Live Like This?
Yeah! Having time (and the privileges of a walkable town and “working from home”) to take myself places alone is really one of my favorite parts of life. We’re moving soon, and one of my essential criteria is that the house we get has to have somewhere I can walk to. It’s that important.
If you can drive, it’s still important to take this kind of time with yourself. I know the phrase “love yourself” has been diluted past the point of meaning anything.
And think about how love grows when you’re around a person and you focus on them and get to know them, and the feeling of sitting with them, doing nothing, when all you’re doing is loving each other.
Then love yourself as your neighbor.
Have you taken yourself on a date recently? Where do you like to go and what do you like to do?
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