By Kyle Johnson
I was certain that one of the benefits of getting clean and sober would be finding a loving relationship. Fortunately, that has not been the case. I say fortunately because the love I have gained for myself from months of failed dating experiences has been instrumental in my personal growth.
The first time my sponsor suggested I take myself on a date I laughed. I was aware that dating wasn’t going well for me, but I was positive I wasn’t at the point of experiencing life as a party of one. After a few days of contemplation, I conceded. I couldn’t argue with trying something different to experience different results.
My first assignment was to get dressed up and take myself to a nice dinner. When I entered the restaurant, I had this feeling of embarrassment. I imagined that everyone in there knew that I was dressed up just to sit down and enjoy a meal by myself because my dating life was not working in my favor. I am aware that dining alone is commonplace for the person who travels for a living, but for me, it was a foreign experience. I had no idea the impact that this seemingly simple experience would have on my life.
I met a guy two weeks later and he insisted that we have a date at Casa Bonita. One hour before we were supposed to meet, he bailed. Six months ago, this would have meant that I would cancel the reservation and find other things to do, but in that moment my perspective changed. I realized that every date should be a self-date in which an offer is extended for someone else to join. If they show up, great. If they don’t, oh well. I was planning on taking myself anyway. Following through with dining alone at Casa Bonita was the catalyst to self-love and adventure.
“When your date cancels you still go because you were taking yourself out anyway and extended the offer for someone to join you.”
One month later I got in my car and drove to Mount Rushmore to check off another bucket list item. This time I had friends who wanted to come, but instead of bringing them along, I went by myself. I wanted to learn more about myself and knew that dining, hiking, and sightseeing alone would help me do that. There was something spiritual in pushing through the uncomfortability of being by myself in a place that was filled with so many couples and families. It was then that I truly believed that if the cards of love don’t fall in my favor that I would be okay regardless. I was finally feeling comfortable in my own skin.
Shortly after my return to Denver, I made plans to hike Hanging Lake with a friend. After a series of scheduling changes and conflicts I decided to get up early one Monday morning and go. I have learned that there is so much to experience in this life but not enough time to wait for someone to experience it with you. By no means do I want to sound like a rude and inconsiderate person, but rather a person who doesn’t let someone else’s schedule, or someone else’s presense, hold them back from doing the things he’s wanted to do. I have a bucket list and a new determination to experience it whether solo or not.
There was one more thing I wanted to experience before the end of the year; the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. I knew nothing of it except for the short article I read in a magazine while on a flight. The moment I landed I booked a room and requested the time off from work. It was truly one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. The International Balloon Fiesta made self-date number 4.
Now here we are six months after my first self-date. The feedback I have received on my experiences with “dating myself” has been mixed. There are many people who find my adventures to be courageous and inspiring; and there are other who find them to be sad and pathetic. The beauty of it all is knowing what it has done for me, my life, and being comfortable in my own skin. My hope is that my experiences inspire others to experience life whether that is by themselves, or with that special someone. Who knows, you might find a deeper love for yourself that you never knew was possible.