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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: No shame in spending some quality time with yourself

How often do you go out to lunch alone? When was the last time you went on a shopping spree alone? How often do you find yourself in a movie theater alone? The majority of people in our generation seem to have a strongly held stigma against doing anything or going anywhere by ourselves. There is an inherent and often insurmountable fear of how other people will perceive your solitude, and this is what holds people back from attending any event alone.

However, alone and lonely are not synonyms. There is nothing wrong with being alone — many people feel perfectly content with their own company, and the ones who don’t ought to learn how. No matter how much of a social butterfly you are, there are inevitably going to be times where there is no other option but being by yourself.

In preparation for these times, you should have periodic “artist dates.” This term, coined by author and blogger Julia Cameron, refers to the concept of making yourself go on dates with just you — and learning how to enjoy them and value yourself.

“The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you. The Artist Date need not be overtly ‘artistic’ — think mischief more than mastery,” Cameron says.

Enjoy your own company; be your own best friend. There’s nothing wrong with being surrounded by people, but it is always best to know that you can be happy with just yourself, too. No one is guaranteed to be around in your life for any extended period of time, so you may as well be prepared to be alone and maintain happiness.

People often seem to sacrifice trying things they want to do simply because there is no one to do it with them. If no one wants to see the movie you want to see, go anyway! Enjoy that movie; enjoy the sense of empowerment going somewhere alone can bring you.

Take yourself out to a nice sit-down dinner once in a while. Think about things, give yourself some distance from humanity — it does not make you a loner, it merely makes you introspective and self-loving.

Cameron encourages the idea of making your one-person dates exactly what you want them to be, without worrying about embarrassment or judgment, proclaiming “when choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, ‘what sounds fun?’ — and then allow yourself to try it.”

Besides being a good way to get in touch with yourself and your less explored interests, doing things by yourself allows you to see the world in a new way. As cliche as it sounds, if you are going to a restaurant alone, you’re going to notice things you would never usually notice if you were there with someone else, and your focus was on them.

People watching is an underappreciated pastime, and the more solo dates you go on, the more time you will have to observe your surroundings, notice the oddities, notice beauty (or lack thereof) and ultimately have a better grasp on the world around you.

Solitude encourages new interactions. Instead of being engrossed with your usual group of friends, give yourself a chance to meet someone new. Going somewhere alone makes you approachable and is likely to result in new friends, and who can ever have too many of those?

We need to cut the stigma against being alone and remind ourselves that alone does not mean lonely. So, the next time you see someone in the theater by themselves, before you judge them or pity them, consider the fact that perhaps they are merely on an artist date, getting to better know themselves and appreciate their surroundings.

Follow Talya Jeffe on Twitter.

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