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I Went To NYC All Alone To Love Myself And It Was Weirdly Beautiful

Cue Hailee Steinfeld's "Love Myself," please.

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The Idea

I was in between jobs, I was getting over a rather esteem-crushing separation from my ex, and I was in need of a change in routine. As someone who consistently relied on other people and struggled with my own self-perception, I realized I needed to escape a comfort zone that really wasn't very comfortable.

New York City has always been my favorite place in the world, but after a recent breakup (and moving home to New Jersey), so many of my favorite places in New York felt distant and became tainted with painful, used memories. Noticing that I had started to avoid the spots I once loved so much in the city, I realized I needed to reclaim them for myself — and to make new memories on my own.

The Plan

Partially inspired by this brave and brilliant post, I decided to venture all alone to New York City, where I'd lived my last year of college and made memories with close friends, my family, and my ex-boyfriend. I'd spend the day there by myself and venture to my favorite spots, giving them new meaning on my own. I wanted to do more than just take back these places and memories, though — I wanted to prove to myself that I could be just as happy in my favorite spaces without the company of anyone else. I was intent on feeling happy and loved and confident with just me.

First Stop: The High Line

Kyle Davis / Via Snapchat

When I first arrived in New York last year, The High Line instantly became one of my favorite places to visit (and to generally loiter around). It was also the place where I had one of my first dates with my now ex-boyfriend, and so it was consequentially marred with painful thoughts and memories in the aftermath of our breakup.

Kyle Davis

Here's one thing I found to be quite significant on my trip to the High Line: On that first date, my ex and I had noticed a sculpture that, while impressive, bore a striking resemblance to excrement. We aptly and quite maturely named it the "poop statue."

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When I went back to the High Line this time, however, the infamous "poop statue" was no longer there. Perhaps it had been moved and I had just failed to see it, and maybe I'm too sentimental (or obsessed with astrology), but I saw it as a sign. Things change, and people change. Nothing is permanent.

Kyle Davis / Via Snapchat

When you're alone with your thoughts (and, I admit, Taylor Swift's 1989 on repeat), you really do notice things that you may have never picked up on when surrounded by other people. "Little West 12th Street" was one of those things.

Next: Washington Square Park

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From the High Line, I walked through the Meatpacking District to the West Village, my favorite New York City neighborhood.

Kyle Davis / Via Snapchat

Oftentimes when I visit the West Village, I'm grabbing drinks with friends or going out dancing. It was strange to be in such a lively, crowded place all on my own. At times, it left me feeling incredibly lonely.

Kyle Davis / Via Snapchat

When I arrived at Washington Square Park, I decided to embrace that feeling of solitude, and I perched myself on an empty bench and people-watched for the next hour. I didn't look at my phone; I wasn't sending texts. I fought the uncomfortable notion that I was crazy for sitting alone without having my eyes glued to my phone, but I reminded myself that today was not about comfort, and I made conversation with the woman next to me. She was sweet and open and had really cool pants, and I never would have met her if I hadn't been sitting on that bench alone and disconnected.

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I thought a lot about all my past ventures to Washington Square Park — with friends, with my ex, with my family. Though I'd been here many times before, being alone in a familiar space brought a new meaning to a place with which I already had so many connected memories. I recognized that I didn't feel any less happy on my own. Just different.

Next Stop: SoHo

Kyle Davis

I'm pretty sure this was an advertisement for a store, but I liked it, and I'm going to pretend that its meaning is tied to my journey toward self-love.

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In SoHo, I ventured to one of my favorite coffee shops. My phone had died, and I had to ask the staff to charge it behind the bar, so this time it was even easier to be away from my cell. I ordered a coffee and read in the corner, taking time to put down my book, absorb my surroundings and, again, appreciate the solitude. I noticed the appreciation was happening much more organically at this point. I felt like an angsty poet sipping espresso in the corner of a hip, smoky coffee shop, except I was drinking a sugary iced coffee and reading a book about Clueless while blowing my nose.

Chinatown

Kyle Davis / Via Snapchat

When I first moved to New York last August, I relied on everyone around me for directions, subway advice, and other NYC-related tips. A year later, however, I could successfully traverse the entire lower half of Manhattan without losing my way; I could get lost in the city without actually being lost. So that's how I found myself alone in Chinatown. As I walked around, I took a moment to allow myself to be impressed with my hard-earned directional capabilities, and I reflected on how difficult it can be sometimes to avoid constant self-deprecation and simply to be proud of the things I've accomplished.

Oh, and then I ran into Karlie Kloss.

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This was a HUGE deal for me, as I am a Swiftie to the damn core. I was literally listening to "Bad Blood" when I saw Karlie (aka Knockout) in the flesh. She was kind and gorgeous, and I'd like to think we would have never met if I'd decided not to walk around SoHo/Chinatown alone. It was a divine intervention of sorts. And it got me a lot of likes on Instagram.

And then I walked back to Penn Station.

Kyle Davis

I did a lot of thinking as I walked from Chinatown to Midtown, but I mostly took time to embrace the gratitude I felt toward myself for what I had done that day. After spending so much time basking in self-deprecation and really struggling to accept any compliments I received at face value, to be able to thank myself and recognize the value in something that I'd done all on my own was rewarding beyond measure.

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As I sat on the train back to New Jersey, I thought a lot about the weird, uncomfortable, sad, beautiful, enlightening, empowering day I had just experienced. Did I fall in love with myself? No. Had I removed all the hurt I was feeling from my breakup? Not really. Did I decide to move to a California ranch and live in solitude for eternity like Sidney Prescott in the third Scream movie? No, I love humans too much.

But if nothing else, I realized that I do possess the ability to spend a day alone with myself and have a genuinely good time. I recognized that I don't need to be around other people to make lasting, pleasant memories, and that there is strength and power in independence. And I recognized that, above all, it's important to take time to be kind to yourself and to recognize your own strengths and accomplishments.

Real, true self-love is harder to find than most people might think, but taking small moments to appreciate your own strength and positive qualities can really bring you closer to finding that inner peace and self-acceptance. Because at the end of the day, if you can't love and appreciate who you are, how can you let anyone else?

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