self-dates

Everybody knows where to go on a date with a cute person that they LIKE like. Movies, fancy restaurants, the zoo, that cute little café down the road that does brunch until three in the afternoon.

Recently, there’s been a trend for other sweet kinds of dates – parents taking their kids on a ‘date’ as a conscious way of seeking quality time, friends having phone ‘dates’, married couples being encouraged to keep dating each other after they’ve settled down. The idea is that these are ways to mindfully pin down a patch of time to have an experience, make a memory together.

I want to talk about another kind of date though – self-dates.

Particularly for introverts like me, time alone is a precious resource. It’s a time to relax and to recharge. Not to say that we don’t love spending time with others; but I find that I crave about one day a fortnight alone with my thoughts, the way we crave a good sleep after a day of fun adventures.

Recently, I’ve been so swamped that it’s difficult to carve out a patch of time like this. Between study, jobs and so many groups of friends saying we must have dinner, we must go see that movie, taking time out just for me seems selfish and lazy, even though I know it will give me the energy and the contrast to make those times with friends more enjoyable. Just the other day though, I put aside the afternoon and took myself out for some quality time.

Here’s what I learned:

  • One secret I found was to plan ahead. I told all my family where I was going (the art gallery), and why (because I missed it – I hadn’t set foot in a gallery for a year), so that that time was pencilled off for me in everyone’s schedule.
  • I followed whims I had about where to go next – taking a seat in the gallery café when I was hungry, and spending an unforeseen amount of time poking around in the little store at the end.
  • Part of what made that possible was having enough time. The entire afternoon was all mine, so I never felt hurried by knowing other people needed me.
  • put away my phone, the last link I had to anyone who could distract me. That meant no photos, no texting, just keeping it down in my pocket in case of an emergency. I didn’t really regret not being able to keep photos as memories because it meant I could focus properly on the artworks; also between that and checking my bag at the door, I had nothing to carry around with me apart from my bagcheck stub and credit card.
  • Lastly, I learned (remembered) that there are a million things to do if you live in a city like Sydney. My dream is to live in New York, but passing the museum, the Royal Mint and the huge Domain gardens on my walk to the art gallery reminded me there are so many parts of ‘home’ that I still have to explore.

Do you self-date? What kind of things do you like to do? Do you share your adventures with your friends afterward or keep them a secret, just for you?

Illustration from the website of the wondrous Lieke van der Vorst

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