As I sat alone in a movie theater on 6th Avenue last weekend next to an old couple holding hands and a folded empty chair, I couldn't help but second-guess the validity and "cool factor" of my voluntary independence.
Was it completely embarrassing to go to the movies by myself on a Saturday night?
Did anyone notice the only "date" I had sitting next to me was the Starbucks latte I smuggled into the room?
The answer is no.
Nobody gave a f*ck that I was there by myself, and neither did I.
In fact, I love going to the movies by myself.
I'm also a huge fan of going to concerts alone when no one else is around, and sitting in beautiful cafes while watching the crowds explore the busy streets of NYC.
Heck, solo-exploration is one of my favorite pastimes. I adore the days when I have time to walk around the city by myself with curiosity about who I'm going to meet and what I'm going to see.
It makes me feel good.
In fact, these are just a few examples of pleasurable acts of solitude people can enjoy on their own.
It's called "masturdation," my friends, and it's a pretty awesome concept.
Basically, masturdating is the act of pleasing yourself by taking your happiness and desires into your own hands and taking yourself on a date.
The day after my solo movie theater outing, I was raving about the movie "Janis: Little Girl Blue" (go see it), and a complete stranger told me I had masturdated.
I was kind of confused, a little bit flattered and extremely enlightened.
I didn't know there was a word to describe the "pathetic me" nights that happened pretty frequently.
But there is.
I masturdated, and apparently, I masturdate all the time.
You might be thinking to yourselves, "Alright, Amanda. You're super single, and all you're doing is treating yourself because you don't have a significant other who will."
You're right, though! You're so f*cking right.
As humans who respect our personal well-beings and happiness, we should all take the time to treat ourselves without relying on another person.
If we waited patiently for someone else to bring us into the world to experience all of the things we've always wanted to experience, we'd be waiting forever.
We'd watch each day slip through our fingers, and we'd let go of the chances we would have taken if we had someone to take them with.
We'd be waiting around for the right opportunity to go somewhere new, to see something different or to eat somewhere we never have before, all because we didn't have someone at our side.
If you masturdated more, you'd realize how much of a peaceful, eye-opening experience it is.
All you have is yourself, your thoughts and the world around you.
The opportunities to do whatever you please are endless, and they can be incredibly rewarding.
Why, you ask?
Well, for one, when you're masturdating, you don't need to worry about anyone else's happiness but your own.
There are no disagreements on what kind of food to order, what kind of show to see or how long you want to stay out.
If you want to check out the new taco joint around the corner, do it.
If your favorite artist is playing and none of your friends are into him, go.
All you need to do is care about yourself.
That being said, when you masturdate, you don't need to possess the underlying fear the person you're with isn't having a good time.
Being a total people-pleaser, I always wonder if my date is enjoying himself.
As a result, my floating anxiety often stunts how much I am enjoying myself.
It's a vicious circle.
Call me paranoid, but it's true.
I'm always more concerned about the happiness of the other person over my own when I'm on a date.
Sure, it's mostly because I care about this person and want him to be enjoying himself, but sometimes it's exhausting.
If you're in the same boat as me, you need to make sure you're also having a good time.
Being able to have a good time all by your lonesome is so special because you can usually zone in on the things that inspire you without any interruption or fear of judgment.
As Millennials in an app-controlled, mosh pit of a dating scene, we need to take the time to be alone.
Better yet, we need to relearn how to be alone and how to be OK with it.
Trust me, I'm not saying to ditch the whole dating scene, but sometimes, you need the "you" time to bring yourself back down to Earth.
You need to remind yourself of who you are and what truly gets your blood flowing.
I challenge you to take yourself on a date this weekend.
Think about a place you've been wanting to go, a restaurant you've been wanting to check out or a film you've been wanting to see, and do it.
Clear your schedule, buy the ticket and for God's sake, log off of Tinder for the night.
You need to date yourself.
Fall in love with who you are, and experience the raw bliss of being alone in the world.
Independently experience all the things you adore.