Bloom: I went on a date alone (and so should you)

Discovering how to manage my loneliness


Kripa Mayureshwar

In June 2021, I went to Strawberry Park shopping center in Saratoga to eat ramen and drink boba, alone.

Shivani Verma


 miss you.”

My mom turned around from where she was standing near her bedroom door, a few feet away from me. 

“I’m not going anywhere,” she responded.

“I know, but…”

I didn’t have the words to describe how I was feeling. I didn’t know how to explain that the mere feet between us had suddenly morphed into a gaping chasm, and she felt too far away to reach. 

This sudden, hopeless loneliness appears every so often. I don’t know what triggers it, but it feels like a tidal wave crashing against me, and out of nowhere I’ll be drowning while everyone I love feels fathoms away. 

I hadn’t always had these bouts of loneliness, though. I don’t recall feeling lonely when I was younger, even though being alone was commonplace. I was an only child, none of my school friends lived nearby and my parents were divorced and still single. So while they handled single parenthood, juggling work, domestic chores and taking care of their daughter, I spent hours busying myself with solitary activities: immersing myself in Rainbow Magic and Geronimo Stilton books, doodling aimlessly on any printer paper or legal pad I could find, creating dramatic lives for my Barbies in my three-foot-tall dollhouse and engineering complex plots for my invisible friends. The number of extracurriculars I could participate in was restricted, too, because my parents could only drive me to so many places. Inevitably, I had to find some way to entertain myself. I was really good at not giving my parents too much trouble; this was the way my life was, and I was happy with it. 

Graphic by Shivani Verma

But as we all grew up and gained more autonomy, my childhood pastimes didn’t spark my interest anymore, so I yearned for a social life like the ones I saw on Disney shows. “Having playdates” eventually became “hanging out,” and with that, there seemed to be a shift — everyone was doing things with their friends outside of school more and more. Being with people felt exciting and interesting, and when I couldn’t have that, being alone felt like getting left behind. 

Throughout my teenage years, responsibilities piled up, and so I found myself escaping everything I disliked by attaching myself to my relationships. My tolerance for solitude dwindled, and the desire to be part of everything, to be around everyone all the time, only grew.

Quarantine, of course, didn’t exactly help. I managed to stay afloat during the first couple of months when the world felt lost at sea. But just as it felt like others were getting used to their circumstances, mine suddenly hit — the loneliness set in, and by the end of the remote learning school year, it had compounded into an ocean of sadness and anxiety. 

But in April, I finally broke through the water’s surface. Finally, I had my driver’s license.

At once, the world was mine to take on. I wanted to go out, do things that I’d never been able to do when my parents controlled my travel. So I went everywhere, all the time — even spontaneously on weeknights — just to go see the people I had been missing. My friends and I had been clutching each other’s company through all the ups and downs of the pandemic, but my newfound independence allowed me to tighten my grip on my friends without realizing it. More than ever, I was relying on their company to fill up that hollow pit in my chest and keep me going. I didn’t know who I was without my relationships. Other people became my entire identity. 

Eventually this teetering situation came crashing down. In the last week of school, my friends posted a picture of them getting lunch together on their Instagram stories. The moment I saw that photo, jealousy and hurt poured like gasoline onto that dangerous mass of neediness, setting it aflame. Now, it burned with resentment. 

That was the moment I knew I’d truly gotten addicted to my friends. It hurt both with and without them around. I knew I needed to step away from them, but being alone felt like a punishment.

My solution, as crazy as it sounds, was delivered to me in the form of ramen.

More specifically, a ramen craving. 

A couple weeks into summer, aching for something exciting to fill up my days, I could no longer resist the way the ramen from the Mitsuwa Marketplace food court had been calling my name. I’d recently discovered my love for ramen, but despite my longing, I hesitated. My mom had work so I couldn’t go with her, and I didn’t really know who else to go with … 

Graphic by Kripa Mayureshwar

Wait. Why did I have to go with anyone at all?

It’ll be a date, I convinced myself as I put on mascara and eyeliner. Something to dress up for. And if it ended up being awful, well… at least I’d have satiated my craving. So, wearing my favorite tank top and with twenty dollars in my pocket, I decided to go get ramen and boba by myself. 

And honestly, it was one of the best days I’ve had all year. 

I came home with my head clearer and heart lighter than they had been in weeks. Making a date out of it had done the trick. Even the most mundane things — listening to the car radio on my drive to the grocery store, ordering my lunch, perusing the manga section — were something to savor. 

That day, listening to Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR” and slurping ramen at a table for one, being alone didn’t feel lonely. It reminded me of the days I could entertain myself for hours alone, carefree and happy with myself. 

Why had I never done this before? As kids, we’re always eager for independence, but something clearly changed as the years went by.

When I thought about it more, I realized that subconsciously, I had been subscribing to the idea that there’s something wrong with being alone in public. In the media, and in reality too, when someone is alone in a public space, the impression is that they have nobody to be with. They have no choice but to be left lonely, and that’s pitiful, almost embarrassing. 

Throughout the years, I had ended up focusing so much of my energy on others that my relationship with myself fell through the cracks. And quarantine had only sped up the process. Eventually, I didn’t feel like I was someone worth spending time with, and so I couldn’t help but search for satisfaction in others. Yet that all changed that day, being in the Mitsuwa food court alone. It wasn’t sad or embarrassing at all — it felt peaceful.

‘Alone’ and ‘lonely,’ I realized, didn’t have to be the same thing.

Now, going out alone is now one of my favorite ways to pass time. For someone who surrounds herself with people constantly, spending time by myself has been freeing. 

It’s not like my loneliness hasn’t completely vanished. Even now, sometimes my loved ones feel far away when they’re right next to me. But I’ve started to see that loneliness as a part of what makes me who I am. When I feel the envy and bitterness bubble up, that’s when I know I need to unclench my fists from my relationships. For so long, I was defined by everyone else, but setting aside time to really be by myself has made me remember who I am, or figure out who I want to be. 

As high schoolers, so much of our free time is spent with other people — our friends or our family — before we go back to the daily slog of homework, eat, sleep, repeat. The consequence of neglecting your relationship with yourself may not be apparent until you feel like you’re drowning. But even if you don’t struggle to keep waves of loneliness at bay, none of us really know who we want to be. How are we going to find out without ever getting the chance? Give yourself time to go out and have fun alone. If it feels awkward, you can even make a game out of it. You never know, it might surprise you. You could learn something about yourself you’d never thought was there.

And if you want a recommendation? I heard the ramen at Mitsuwa is a good place to start.