Something that I’ll never quite understand is why, for some reason, it is so socially unacceptable (or perhaps just “weird”) to go out and enjoy doing stuff by yourself. Not only has it been so beneficial for my own emotional health, but I’ve really learned a lot about how to become my own best friend. While there is absolutely a time and a place in everyone’s life to hang with friends and go on dates, I think that it is so incredibly healthy to really focus on loving yourself. After all, the only person that’s actually gonna stick around for your entire life is, well, yourself (cue G’Easy’s “Me, Myself, and I”)…
Go to the movies
Whenever I tell someone I went to see a really great movie, I swear the first question I get asked is “who did you go see it with?” To be quite honest, I have so much fun going to see a movie by myself because I can just freaking walk out the door and go (matinees are always the best because you will seriously have the whole theatre to yourself). No coordinating show times, no debating about what movie to go see… you just show up and do your thing. I usually take up two seats so I can lay down. I also always make a point to sneak in a Chipotle burrito. Don’t judge.
Take yourself out to eat
While I don’t do this all the time, mostly because I like cooking my own food, I absolutely love to make reservations for a “party of one” every now and then (mostly because of the look of surprise on the hostess’ face that you will inevitably be met with upon showing up…). Somehow, I always end up having a fabulous time. You can people watch, eat with your hands without being judged, talk with an accent and make everyone think you’re a foreigner, etc. – you get the picture. Honestly one of the best memories I have from my time spent studying abroad in Italy was ditching the group and going out to eat by myself at this little hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant. The waiter felt bad that I was by myself (why?), and so not only did I get free appetizers and wine, but I also ended up taking shots of limoncello with the chef (who I ended up being best buds with after he showed me how to make the absolute best pasta carbonara in the world and gave me the actual recipe from his great-grandma).
Probably one of the best, worst decisions I’ve ever made was to jump on a sketchy overnight bus in downtown Columbus and then wake up in the middle of Chinatown in NYC on a Tuesday morning… at 6am. I didn’t tell anyone I left (which, looking back, was probably pretty stupid), and I later had to deal with my parents freaking out, but it was worth every second. I walked 3.5 miles to try and find a hostel that wasn’t totally booked (apparently every Brazilian ever was adventuring to NYC that week), and I know for a fact that I looked like a homeless person in my dad’s flannel shirt (which probably looked more like a dress) and my baggy sweatpants. Little did I know that it would end up being one of the most memorable weeks of my life and that I would end up making some awesome international friends during a hostel pub crawl that led to a night of drinking shitty $5 wine on rooftops and realizing that no matter what part of the world you come from, we all share a common bond of raw, refreshing humanness. I also got to take open classes with some freakin’ amazing dancers, and learn from some of the best choreographers/teachers in NYC. On my last day there, I even had the opportunity to dance in a choreography video that was being filmed for the portfolio of this one choreographer that I got to take class with. From meditating in Central Park to dancing in the rain at 2am with on the Upper West Side, it was one of the best (and sweatiest) weeks of my life that I’ll never forget.
Not only does this literally cost no money, but it is incredibly healthy to just get away for the day and spend the day getting lost in nature. I went hiking twice this semester by myself, and I’m so glad I did (also glad I brought a knife… I mean, you never know).
Go out by yourself
I honestly don’t do this as much as I used to, but I think that there’s something to be said for not “needing” to always have a group/another person with you in order to go out. Who says you can’t rock a dress and heels and take yourself out for a night on the town? Whenever someone asks me who I came with and I tell them that it’s just me, I smile on the inside knowing that I am enough, and hopefully I’ve inspired someone else to realize that they are too.
Never stop learning
Perhaps it’s just a bit of the post-graduation mind funk, but I’m so pumped about being done with college because now I have so much time to learn stuff that I actually want to learn. I may be taking a gap year before starting grad school, but I’m honestly pretty pumped to start reading books about stuff like homeopathic medicine and how to code. No matter what stage of life you’re in, you are never too young or too old to try new things and learn new skills. So go take a cooking class, take a guided tour at your local art museum, open an ETRADE account and teach yourself how to invest (I suggest starting with WWAV… long story), or even audit a trigonometry class at a community college. Also – a huge thank you to my dad for teaching me that you should never, ever stop learning. He is the smartest person I know and I can only hope that I will be half as passionate as he is about whatever I end up making a career out of.
Spend an entire day on the couch
You’re probably laughing after I literally just wrote about always keep your brain stimulated and being a lifelong learner and all, but honestly it is so nice to spend a nice, lazy Sunday on the couch while binge-watching your favorite Netflix show (preferably a comedy series, because we all know about the positive benefits of laughing out loud). You could follow the stereotype and buy yourself a bottle of wine, but if I’m being honest I usually just buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice cream and call it a day. Ice cream > wine.
Invest in others
One of the most fulfilling things you can do by yourself is to spend the day serving others. Whether you volunteer at your local homeless shelter or run in a 5k to support a good cause, there is no joy greater than knowing that you’re helping other people. It’s important to focus on loving yourself, but there is honestly something really special about loving on people that you don’t even know. I would even argue that the single greatest date you could ever take yourself on is one in which you are serving the greater good.