I Went On A Solo Date During An Anxiety Flareup & Here's What Happened
I am the queen of social anxiety. No, really. The mere thought of talking on the phone can make me break out in hives, I sprint out of the bathroom in my office building if I see Timbs under a stall (the hot daddy lesbian always wears Timbs), and I have a mini panic attack every time I have to share an elevator with someone. It goes without saying that I don't go on solo dates — the thought of people judging me from across the restaurant makes me nervous.
I wasn't this anxious about alone time before I moved to New York. Maybe it’s the cost of rent, maybe it’s because the M train hasn’t ran on time since I’ve arrived, maybe it’s just the inevitable feeling of impending doom my mental illness makes me feel — but my anxiety has made me feel less and less comfortable with being alone. I feel my best when I'm surrounded by my coworkers, friends, and girlfriend.
I decided to challenge myself to enjoy an evening out by myself — a solo date. I took my plan seriously from the start. I had even marked the date in my Google calendar; I decided I'd go out one night after work. In true Dayna fashion, it didn’t go so smoothly.
For starters, my day was screwed up because I was wearing an ugly outfit. (I haven’t done laundry in, like, um, a month.) My hair was in a messy bun and I didn't have time for makeup. At my office, I bounced between my actual work and agonizing over which restaurant to go to. I felt insecure about my plans for that night, so I skipped lunch. As the day wore on, my hunger pains felt more intense. If you're a babe that lives with anxiety, you might know what I'm talking about — hunger can make your anxiety twerk.
By the time 5 p.m. rolled around, I was in a sour mood. I texted my girlfriend to make plans to get drinks. I tried to shrug off the burning disappointment and frustration I felt with myself for not wanting to go through with the solo date. But then I stopped myself. I was going on this date, damn it. I wanted to prove to myself that I could.
I canceled our drinks. I forced myself out of the door of my office, onto the sidewalk, and across the street to Rainbow for an outfit makeover. I did my best to shake off negative thoughts about my body and about the fact that I probably shouldn't be spending more money. The goal was to enjoy my night. I purchased a black suede jacket, a black cropped tank top, and red platform sandals. Then I sprinted through the rain back to my office and changed into my new clothes.
It was time to take myself out on a date, whether I liked it or not. I trusted my gut instinct and took an Uber Pool to Lua, a bar in Brooklyn with a cool, relaxed vibe.
In the back seat of the car, I silently prayed that the bartender would not be a hot, intimidating lesbian. Lo and behold, I gave the bartender a once-over when I arrived: Keys clipped to her belt. Tattoos. BDE. Hot, intimidating lesbian bartender.
My heart pounded out of my chest as I ordered my drink. “May I please have an Espolòn and seltzer, please?” I asked. I winced at saying "please" twice and felt beads of sweat run down my forehead.
As the bartender made my drink, I practiced saying "thank you" in my head. I got frustrated with myself. I mean, despite my anxiety, I'm the girl that wears pasties in public and is the first to volunteer for karaoke — why was I having so much trouble ordering a drink?
I said thank you. It was fine. I could’ve sworn she smirked at me when she noticed my "dyke" nameplate necklace. I smirked back.
The second the tequila hit my system, I felt completely at ease. Powerful, even, like a sexy, mysterious girl out by herself. A girl who doesn’t need anyone else to have a good time. I sipped my drink, smiling to myself, observing the trendy Brooklyn décor, and swaying to a Charles Bradley song. What was I so anxious about? This was fun!
Then I saw it: a cash-only sign.
I almost spit my $10 drink out. I fingered the plastic cards in my phone wallet case. I panicked, wondering if I should give the bartender my license as collateral while I went outside to find an ATM, or if I should call my girlfriend, call my mom, or even the police. As my thoughts continued to spiral, I noticed an ATM in the corner of the bar.
Duh. There’s always a simple solution. It's anxiety that makes life feel like a complicated catastrophe.
After I got money from the ATM, I took out the book I had brought with me, and like true magic, I was instantly lost in its pages. Time seemed to disappear around me as I ordered more tequila and kept reading.
I couldn’t help but laugh that an hour ago, I was vibrating with anxiety in Rainbow, positively hating myself. And now, I was happily alone at a bar. I was having so much fun on my solo date. It was even erotic, just like a date-date — I felt sexy and aroused.
I ordered an appetizer, made small talk with the lez bartender, and smiled at the girls next to me. I took selfies in the bathroom. I even unabashedly took photos of my book and drink with the flash on.
I thought about how even though my anxiety had felt so real earlier that day, nothing bad was actually happening around me. Hours at the bar flew by until I felt my eyes drooping. It was time to take myself home, back to my girlfriend. I was so happy to be in her arms. I learned that I could be that happy on my own, too, even if it took a little pushing to get there.
I am now committing to take myself out once a week. My solo date reminded me that I can fall in love with myself again — or at least enjoy a delicious tequila cocktail and a good book.
Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!