Continuing on from Wednesday’s post, one of the most powerful ways i found to connect with the me I’d been shunning was to take myself out on dates. Having been in relationships all my adult life, i wasn’t used to doing certain things on my own, and the day i took myself to the cinema, all on my own, was a day to remember. I’d always thought that people who went to the cinema alone were a bit tragic, a bit Billy-no-mates. I know, I know, what a hideous thing to think, but it was coming straight from my own fears of being alone and loveless/friendless. But if we fast forward to now, going to watch a film on my own is one of my favourite treats: I buy something hot and calorific from Starbucks, see whatever film i want and sit wherever I want (without someone fidgeting beside me or kicking the back of my seat). I sink into the womb-like darkness of the auditorium and lose myself for a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon. Total bliss.
Once I discovered the joy of a lone cinema visit, I started getting bolder: i tried a lunch on my own. And i don’t mean a humble sandwich quickly eaten on a park bench. I’m talking about ordering a delicious lunch from a menu somewhere nice. I’m talking waiter service and a bill at the end. There is something extraordinarily empowering about taking yourself for lunch. The first few times i felt a bit awkward and ate quickly and left fast, but these days i sit and savour my space. I might bring a book or notebook, and sometimes i’ll be working at my laptop, but I also like not having anything to hide behind – just me, my plate of food, a room full of people to watch, my thoughts to think and some space to breathe. To be me… in public. I especially like having lunch on my own while abroad – San Francisco and Montreal provided a few memorable opportunities for me to sit quietly and watch the world go by; i even refused the offer of a newspaper to read. I’ll sometimes get a few quizzical stares from patrons, but generally people are too wrapped up in their own lunch to notice me sitting there. I always share a secret smile with other women I see eating on their own – maybe they’re like me and dig the lone dining mission, or they’re taking a break from work, or are mums who’ve escaped their kids for an hour or two. I like being a member of the lone diners club and i can’t wait to take myself out on a gastronomic tour of London when i return in the summer.
Now for some of you i imagine this might all sound rather obvious and if you’ve been self-dating for years keep doing it! But if you fear, like I did, that doing this stuff alone is sad or, more likely, exposing and makes you feel vulnerable then i invite you to give it a go the next chance you get. Start with an afternoon’s cinema date, and then work your way up to a lunch date. Take a book, find a cosy spot in the corner of the restaurant and see what happens… if nothing else, the feeling of accomplishment will keep you buzzing all the way home!
They say we must eat sensibly, exercise regularly and take time out to de-stress – I’d like to add ‘fall in love with ourselves’ to that list. To be able to cultivate our self-esteem and sense of worth we need to get to know ourselves – the soft tender places and the bold and powerful places. The hurts and fears, the joys and successes. We are worth this nurturing time – we deserve it! It keeps our heads and our hearts healthy and makes us better daughters*, sisters, mothers, partners, friends, employees, entrepreneurs, dreamers.
Can i get an OH YEAH!
* and sons – hello to my handful of male readers**!
** in particular Robby, a 14-year-old book-loving rockstar who just left a comment. I am so impressed with your blog! I hope my nephew follows in your footsteps :)