How do you spend your Saturday nights in? Reading? Painting? Cooking up a storm, just for you, and Skyping your lonely Canadian auntie? Or do you, like me, spend them on the sofa, refreshing Insta and mooning mournfully over photos of your friends at some lit party while sinking a family size pack of Twirl bites? If it’s the latter, then listen up lady: you’ve a lesson to learn — one which I am (obvs) still learning, and has taken my confidantes in this matter (bff’s Katie and Sophie) the best part of 20 years to master.
It is making time for yourself on a Saturday night: that time when, according to the laws of the universe, aka socials, you should either be hanging out with your mates, or on a date night with bae. It is writing ‘ME’ (or myself, or I) in your diary — and enjoying it, whether that’s through a film, a book, a bath or a long neglected talent like piano or painting. And if you too find this scary AF, I strongly recommend the following tips.
Switch off your phone
Or at LEAST put it in another room. The first step to enjoying time by yourself is to BE by yourself, as opposed to looking through a tiny, greasy window into the lives of others. Soon as you hit Insta or any group whatsapp chat you’re on the slippery slope toward painful (and false) comparisons, and bitter self-loathing
Don’t just hit the internet automatically, as if there’s nothing else you could possibly do of an evening. What are you interested in? What are you good at, or do you enjoy doing that you perhaps haven’t done in a while? Sophie, who has been nailing Saturday nights in for a good number of years now, says “the risk of back to back social appointments, is that I don’t make time to feed my interests: the things that make me, well, me and fuel satisfying conversation” — like, in her case, drawing or curling up and reading. A Saturday night spent doing those things you’ve always loved — playing an instrument, writing a story, making cards — will enrich you in a way falling into a Youtube shaped black hole of cat videos is unlikely to do.
Consider your night in, not as a burden, but as a gift of four or five hours of free time you’ve granted yourself. Put it in your diary, and plan it as a fixed date, says Katie — just as your would an evening with friends. As Sophie warns, “an urgent scouring of Netflix or iPlayer in the hope of finding something to fit the bill” all too often ends in a disappointment after a string of half-watched films and documentaries. What’s on your ‘to watch’ list? What was that book your bff recommended last week? “A really good, nourishing evening — one where I would delight and relish in it, and have not a shred of FOMO, would be to absorb myself in the things I love and that nourish me,” Sophie continues. That invariably demands thinking ahead.
Just as important as nourishing your sense of self is nourishing your body. Cook a dish you love, or have wanted to cook for ages — or if cooking isn’t your vibe, nicely ask your parent to cook or order one of your favourite things. Have dessert, or at the very least some kind of treat, and make Saturday night in a real occasion as opposed to something that happened by default. No one can ever truly regret an evening that ended in zillionaire cheesecake from GU.
Have a bath, change your duvet and pull on your favourite pyjamas for a feeling of indulgent luxury that won’t cost you a penny. Don’t skulk in your bedroom too early though, warns Katie — you’ll feel like you’re hiding from the world. “I make a point to hang out in the sitting room. If I were to hang out in my room as if I were ill or something, I’d start to feel sorry for myself.” You don’t have to dress up for the occasion, but equally you don’t have to treat yourself like you’ve got the flu.
Share the love
A weekend night in is the perfect chance to catch up with a friend in another time zone — or even an elderly grandparent whose every Saturday night is a night in, and would relish a quick chat with you.
A night in is nothing to be ashamed of: we all have them, and if we are to retain a sense of identity (see 1) we all need them. Katie tells me when she is having a Saturday night in, and what she is going to do. She’ll have a documentary lined up that she’s been wanting to watch for ages, or a book she’s just getting into, and she’ll be really excited about it — to the point that I’m invariably left wishing I had made such lovely plans for myself, too.
Have faith in yourself, and in your friends
I promise they will still be there for you come Monday morning. Own your Saturday night. Share it with them with as much enthusiasm as you would a night out, or on holiday. No one can laugh at you for cooking paella, stencilling your cousin a birthday card and watching a documentary about elephants on a weekend. Or at least, they can — but the joke’s on them, not you.
Easy like Sunday morning
Not going out means not being knackered on Sunday morning. Not being knackered on Sunday morning opens up a whole new world of eating, drinking and exercising possibilities which a less sprightly, Saturday-night-out you would have slept right through. Get that run in, book a tennis court before 12, or make coffee plans so you’ve done something social that weekend. Alternatively, make the most of the lie in and back yourself a sweet 16 hour sleep.
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Image: Hailey Hamilton