The “Single Girl Rut” can be hard to break and should not be taken lightly. But with strategy, determination, and these three simple (but necessary) rules, one woman is breaking the cycle, one date at a time.
So, I stood myself up. You heard me right. I had a big, beautiful plan to treat myself to a lovely two nights in Palm Springs, and I flaked.
I had been looking forward to this trip for weeks. Fantasizing about it. Especially after a super demanding week full of deadlines, a huge project launch, meetings, and auditions — it was exactly what I needed to destress and refresh. So why, when Palm Spring weekend rolled around, did I find myself on my couch, in front of the television, watching a movie marathon (quick highlights: Atonement — beautiful and devastating, About Time — a light and life-giving romp; I recommend both). Why was I spending yet another weekend in, rife with Instacart and Uber Eats delivery? Because I didn’t know the hold that “The Rut” had on me. I didn’t yet realize that it wouldn’t let me go without a fight.
I’d let myself down, and I knew it. I tried to make myself feel better with promises. I’ll just go next week, I offhandedly offered myself, Thursday and Friday, that’ll be nice. But I was learning the hard way that, “The Rut” doesn’t give a damn about your promises.
I was like a man who promised himself he would eat better, then spent the evening shoveling down an extra-large pizza, or a woman who swore she would start working out, but spent the weekend — well, lying across her sofa binge-watching television inhaling the neighborhood delivery. In the moment, it seems like a fine idea, something real quick — one slice, one movie. But, before you know it, The Rut has you in its claws and it isn’t letting go.
The thing about a rut is that it feels good. It’s a habit, like that morning coffee or lunchtime cigarette, or In’n’Out burger on the way home from work. And once you enter the habit loop — good luck. It must be fulfilled.
For me, The Rut — the habit loop — had me.
And though it felt good in the moment, (actually, it felt great in the moment, especially once I committed to it) the guilt afterwards was soul-crushing. I reminded myself of my promise — next week, I will go.
But the following week filled up with unexpected activity. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, I’d signed with a new print agency, hit the ground for auditions, and booked a three-day commercial shoot in Oklahoma. Between preparing for my new agency, my auditions, and my out-of-town booking, there was no time to dash to Palm Springs. I realized I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my promise to myself, or this column, this month at all.
The “Single Girl Rut” won. And, I was tired of it.
Because if I would have stuck to my guns and took my trip when I promised myself I would, instead of entering the week tired, uninspired, and feeling a sense of being “back on the grind” (a feeling I hate), I would have felt rested, refreshed and inspired. As far as cool career stuff — new agency, commercial booking — things were great, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had done myself wrong.
It was clear — I had a problem. I had an addiction to “personal life mediocrity”, and like any other addict, I had to get serious about breaking it. This meant I needed to get focused, organized, and find a way to hold myself accountable to the promises I was making to myself.
I had to get real with myself, what is this challenge to “date myself” really about? When I am getting to know a new guy in my life, that I am excited about, there is no “tomorrow”. There is no “later” there is no “tired.” It wouldn’t matter if I worked for 72-hours straight and just took the red-eye in. I would power nap it out, get to that dinner, and somehow manage to be the most-charming version of myself available to me. I have driven three hours in the rain in stilettos and a push-up bra— having perfected my hairstyle and makeup in the fifteen minutes I had to get ready, to see someone who was important to me. Why? Because I cared. I was excited for the potential of it all, and that is a wonderful feeling to have. Though it’s not a guarantee that the date is going to go great, or that I am going to have a good time, or that I won’t end up asleep in my soup, I am willing, I am excited, to try.
I need to be equally as willing to try, with me. I need to be enough. I realize that this challenge that I have issued myself of “dating me” is about getting to know and celebrate me. It’s really about self love, seeing and appreciating my worth and leaning into that new standard. It’s about being willing to try new things just because I want to, and it’s about valuing that choice, that desire, no matter what. Yes, there may be some bad dates where a fill-in-the-blank series binge on Netflix would have been much more enjoyable. But there may also be some lovely surprises.
Like what happened when I forced myself to go on my date to take the “Duchess Effect” etiquette class (on my list because of my love for HRH Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and a longing for more grace and elegance in my life). I was spending time with my family in Louisiana, and had to leave a day early to drive three hours to Dallas, in the rain, where the class was being held. Logistically it worked, because I was flying out of Dallas the next day. But when the event arrived, I could have chosen to sleep in, binge The First on Hulu (which is excellent), hang with the fam, and then just head directly to the airport to catch my flight the following afternoon. I forced myself to stick to my plans, and I ended up enjoying the class so much, that I am excited to book my trip to New York to complete the full day Finishing Program.
And, because I was in town, I got the opportunity to attend a dear friend’s non-profit 10th anniversary fashion fundraising show, a show that I walked in five years earlier and have had the pleasure to watch grow to sponsor orphanages, scholarships and overall excellence in the Asian American community. I was also able to hang out with a great girlfriend I hadn’t seen in two years. I indulged and stayed at a fabulous hotel, and treated myself to every luxury time would allow. It was a great weekend. Scratch that — it was one of the best weekends I had this year.
But with this success, I have realized, that one must commit to dating themselves, just like they would commit to getting to know a potential new love in their life. I’m not talking about the person that you are halfway excited about, who asks you out here or there and you have nothing else to do so — why not? I am talking about the one who gives you butterflies, the one who makes you smile and blush anytime your phone dings with their text, the one whom you plan your schedule out for days in advance to make sure you can attend that event with— I’m talking three hours, in the rain, in stilettos and a push-up bra. And even when plans go awry — the food is nasty, the movie is boring, the venue closed early, it’s raining — you’re happy just because you got to spend that time with them. Because it’s really not about the food or the venue or the movie, it’s about them. I have realized that I have to treat myself like the main squeeze, and let it be all about me.
So, moving forward, I have committed to:
Make a list. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? Trip to Palm Springs, flower arranging classes, Art Basel Hong Kong? There is nothing too big or too small. Set a timer for 10 minutes and indulge yourself; write down any and everything that crosses your fancy. Once the list is complete, separate it into Simple Dates and Decadent Dates. A “simple date” would be something that doesn’t take a lot of resources: a mani/ pedi, a movie, a jaunt to that museum or gallery you’ve been meaning to drop into, Salsa class. Anything that would be a nice easy treat for yourself. It could be as simple as walking to grab a turmeric latte and perusing the Grove or downloading an audiobook and having dessert on the patio of the new restaurant you’ve wanted to drop by. The “decadent dates” are more involved. Out of town trips, speakers that you have to buy tickets in advance for, spa days, shopping sprees — these are the dates that take some effort and planning. On my list of “decadent dates” are: a trip to Palm Springs, running a marathon in a fun city (Havana!), Art Basel Miami, Beaumont Finishing School at the Plaza Hotel New York. All of these items will take some effort on my part to have the most pleasurable experience possible. But, I’m worth it.
Once you’ve made and divided your list, schedule it! Make a promise to yourself to go on one simple date a week and one decadent date a month. Add that date to your calendar. Get hype about it! Remember, a decadent date does not have to be expensive, it just takes planning. One of mine is to drive out to see and photograph Wayfarers Chapel — otherwise known as “the glass church.” It’s free, but it’s also located about an hour and a half from me, so the resource that it takes is my time. But I now realize that this is my personal time to love on myself, and I want to do it to the best of my abilities.
Find an accountability partner. Remember, you are fighting The Rut; I have learned that in order to be victorious, I need to enlist some help. Tell another friend about your commitment to yourself, and ask them to assist you in holding yourself accountable. Ask to check-in with them or ask them to check-in with you. Better yet, ask them to join you! You can both check-in on and encourage each other. And get vocal! Gush about all of the cool things you are doing with and by yourself. Think about it, if you had a new love in your life, they wouldn’t be able to shut you up. And though some of your dates may feel more organic to keep private and close to your heart, challenge yourself to be open about what excited you. I have found that sometimes I don’t share because I think people won’t care, but if it’s important or interesting to me, I want to challenge myself to fight that urge and to be more open.
Dating myself is an exercise in self love.
I am learning that the muscle is hard to strengthen, but it will get stronger, then it will become second nature. A momentum takes over when you treat yourself — much like when you workout regularly or eat well continuously. A change, for the better, begins to occur in your mind, body, and soul. After a while, there is no going back. But you have to push yourself to that place. I have set a new standard for myself. Though it may be rough going at first, I must commit to this new dating system to reap its benefits, that I already know are coming.
So, here’s to the reboot — the reinvestment in myself. Here’s to committing to self care, to self-worth, and to self love — one date at a time.
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