For those just joining the now continued 100 Solo Date journey, almost 6 years ago I started a journey of self love founded in the fact that I struggled to spend time alone and had extreme anxiety at the thought of such.
I was so used to being with a lot of people all of the time, it was hard for me to even shop alone, never mind go out and do something fun.
I had it in my head that you couldn’t do something unless you could get someone to join you. This limited the things I would do, in a way, because if no one else wanted to go, I didn’t go.
I decided I wanted to try to get to the kind of life where I could do the things I wanted and try new things without having to rely on anyone but myself.
I realized to do that I had to work on the relationship I had with myself, with how I thought of and talked about or even to myself, among other important things. I realized out of all the relationships I had, the relationship with self was the one that I was neglecting the most. This should, however, have been the relationship that was front and center all along. It should be for everyone!
This was in fact a RELATIONSHIP. Relationships require work and effort. Relationships require getting through the bad days without hating each other, or in this case, yourself.
The thing about the relationship with yourself is that it is easy to let it slide. It is easy to say you want to do something for yourself on Monday, but say “yes” when someone needs something anyway. It is easy to be there for other important people in your life, especially when they ask. You don’t check in with yourself as much, you don’t “ask” yourself for things.
WHY ‘SOLO DATES’
When it came to all other relationships in my life, I was great at “dates.” I was great at making plans and doing things with other people or doing things that other people liked, with them or for them. There was also always follow through with dates. Dates are planned. Dates are not cancelled. My scheduled time with myself is just as important as dates I have planned with other people.
This is why I decided I would go on 100 Solo Dates in a year. I decided to take myself on those same dates that I took others on. I decided my dates with myself were going to be planned and just as important as my dates with other people.
100 Solo Dates in a year meant 100 days where I did something for myself. 100 days where I did EXACTLY what I wanted even if just for a half hour, even if other people thought it was weird. Want to stop at a rest stop to see the sunset? Sure. Want to kayak in Tennessee? Sounds good. Want to be lazy on a beach and get sunburn? Whatever you want. All you can eat buffet? Michie, did you need to ask for that one?
Basically I spent the entire year doing things that made me happy which overall made me BETTER. The better I was to myself, I found the better I was to others anyway. The better I was to myself, the better I was at teaching, at rugby, at friendships, etc. The more I did this, the more I began to see again how truly capable of love I was, even though I was starting to shift away from that feeling.
As I said in my previous post, I lost that girl along the way which made it so hard to reflect on this before, but I will get into that later. Right now, I want to tell you about the first date.
Solo Date 1: Christman Sanctuary
Activity: Hiking in Duanesburg, NY
This was the date where I made the rules.
100 Solo Dates Rules:
- Rule 1: Must be alone
- Rule 2: Must be a new place or activity
- Rule 3: Pics or it didn’t happen
*There would later be an amendment to the first rule as my dear friend and avid snow sports instructor had to instruct me on a snowboard solo date so I did, in fact, not die.*
Now, the idea of trying 100 new things or doing 100 new activities with myself was actually pretty daunting, but it was the kind of challenge I like.
Numbers, goals, check ins, and the thing I love most: accountability.
I had the accountability of sharing after and my community of friends were in a way “joining me” along the way. Community is such an important thing in my life. I thrive when I am giving and receiving love from the important people in my life. Even though these dates were solo, there was a lot of that along the way.
My two dear friends I lived with pumped me up about the dates every day. They even pushed me to go on dates when I wasn’t feeling my best. Sometimes that was the real key. Nothing like forcing yourself into the sun when it seems to your brain that there is no sun at all. In this way, these dates truly pushed me through good and bad times for that entire year.
My coworker listened to me every single day on lunch when I came and told him about my next date idea (and my next idea about a girl but that again is a WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY.) He gave me ideas and more than anything, he gave me the push to keep going. He told me to keep exploring these dates and that what I was doing was valid. We all need people like this in our lives, a lesson I got to learn simultaneously to the lessons on finding myself.
Place: Christman Sanctuary , Duaneburg, NY
Date: August 26, 2014
For this first date, I was truly excited to start 3 days after I had announced I would be doing this on my 25th birthday. I wanted to go for a short hike by myself, something I had never done before at the time. I went to somewhere pretty close on what I remember as a sunny day even though my grainy photos look dreary. This was a stunning and quiet place and I’m sure had I not made the rule of going somewhere new each time, I would have ended up here quite a bit. Sadly, I did try to return some years later but it had closed due to vandalism so I never did end up going back.
Though the picture was all smiles, this date was actually not the easiest. I went for a SUPER short hike and went along some water. I did some climbing and sitting and kind of lost track of time and where I came in. As usual I was always fighting the daylight or loss of such, so I realized I should go home. Of course, I could not see a path anymore so I immediately began to panic as if I was in the Sahara Desert– or actually more like a corn maze. You know underneath you’re close to safety, but you are willing to Tazmanian devil your way out if you have to. Just me? Well then.
There is a reason I didn’t like being alone. As I got older, my anxiety worsened and doing things alone could send me into panic sometimes. This whole set of dates was something I wanted to help me with that. I wanted to work through irrational fears and I did.
On this date though… well on this date, I did NOT. On this date, I panicked and wanted to leave immediately. So I went straight through the woods until I could get to the road. I then had to follow the road to my car using my GPS because I am, in fact, a complete idiot with directions.
I made it though.
I got to laugh at myself in the car with snacks. My car was a little over a half mile from where I bailed out into the street. I mentally earned the snacks for this one, people!
For all of the dates, I want to end with my one big take away. These are learnings (and sometimes, like this one, re-learnings from smart things my mom has taught me.)
[Re]Learning from this date:
Do hard things because they’re worth it and you’re worth it.
[And you feel pretty awesome after.]