Column by Hallie Beard, Opinion Editor
I’m a big believer in making yourself go through uncomfortable situations, especially if you’re prone to being uncomfortable.
That’s why, if you’ve never taken yourself out on a date, you should.
I know, it sounds scary and awkward, but I’ve done it several times throughout the course of my college career, and I’m here to walk you through it.
First, I have to convince you why being alone on a Friday night or a Tuesday afternoon is better for your health and character than always being with a friend.
Earlier this summer, I went on a trip to Long Island with my mom for a work-related conference. This meant I was left to explore New York by myself until she was free in the evenings.
Once, I stumbled upon a painfully hipster (but ultimately very cool) bar and grill in Huntington. Initially, I was frightened to death by the stylish crowd, the nonchalantly beautiful hostess and the slick bartender. I was sure everyone was thinking what a loser I was for sitting alone while everyone else chatted among their best friends and dates. By the end of the meal, though, I had been complimented by the hostesses (they liked my hair!), struck up a conversation with someone else about Kentucky and savored a fabulous meal.
Forcing yourself to function as the smart, interesting, beautiful and strange human you are without the assistance of a friend, crowd or smartphone is key to being independent and flexible. When we go out with a friend, we’re unafraid to smile or be silly because we only have to perform for one person who is nearly guaranteed to love the show. When alone, we’re suddenly faced with a giant unknown audience who, according to the voice inside your head, will absolutely hate and judge everything you do or say. It takes time to rid yourself of this voice, but it can be done.
If you never learn how to enjoy and affirm yourself in the company of strangers, unassisted, you’ll have a difficult time developing stable and healthy relationships with others, whether those are romantic or platonic. So much can stop us from achieving what we want and fear of being alone is probably one of the biggest roadblocks.
If you’re with me, proceed:Think of a plan for yourself just as you would plan to hang out with a friend or significant other. Go out to lunch, get a drink or go to a movie (that’s an easy one).
If choosing a restaurant or bar, it’s easy to pick a quiet place at a slow time – this offers little threat to you. What I suggest is staring the threat right in the face and showing your teeth. Pick a swanky place during a popular meal time. Just do it. Oh, and don’t check your phone every two minutes.
When choosing food, don’t purposefully order something you’ll finish fast – no side salads or minuscule soup cups. Get something you’ll truly enjoy, and get a drink with it, if you’re of age. Or, get a fancy nonalcoholic specialty drink or milkshake – the goal here is to motivate you to stay until you’re finished rather than heeding your social anxiety and dashing after a few bites.
Don’t worry about what other people are thinking – unless they’re stalkers, they will not concern themselves with you for more than two seconds at most. No, really. No one cares about you – they’re too busy thinking about themselves and their company. That’s okay. And if someone does try to talk to you, it won’t be the worst thing in the world.
If the thought of doing a certain activity alone makes your stomach churn, you’re exactly the kind of person who should try it. Give it a shot, and let me know how it goes.