Imagine this: it’s 9:50 AM and you spot me across Kerckhoff Coffee House. You say my name to grab my attention, but my mind is clearly occupied. My soul is seemingly transfixed by the menu, and my AirPods are tossed into my bag so I can hear the barista loud and clear. There are two people in front of me, but my Apple Pay is ready. From your perspective, I appear tense and focused. This observation is not entirely false.
I’m on campus for a date, and despite this date happening almost every day, I can’t help but feel butterflies and double-check my appearance. Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon phase. It’s an important date, so I took extra time to curl my hair how I like it, double-checked my alarm, did my makeup and sprayed my favorite perfume.
It’s finally my turn to order and, being the independent woman I am, I order and pay for my soy matcha latte myself. With my daily treat in hand, suddenly my footsteps seem lighter, the weather is no longer hot but rather perfectly sunny, and my previously overwhelming workload is just a matter of time management.
I open my Google Calendar and skim the date agenda I’ve curated for myself. As expected, I have two hours blocked off for my solo date. As I look out the window from my usual table, the scenery is so picturesque (similar to “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”) that I can’t help but take a photo I’ll probably never look at again.
Romanticizing my college life comes naturally when I’m on solo dates. I have complete control over my agenda, how slowly (or quickly) I enjoy my daily treat, when I want to go back to my dorm and the unexplainable feeling of sexiness I get as I cross off my to-do list and occasionally look around to see if there are any hot, studious men nearby who also are enjoying a fun bev.
Of course, I could have just woken up and done my work in my dorm. But for me, taking care of myself means putting on a cute outfit and buying a little drink as a “thank you” for the effort I put in throughout the week. The matcha latte I get after my morning classes helps me follow the philosophy of small but certain happiness (“sohwakhaeng” in Korean) that my mom taught me. In times of tumultuous change and growth, it can be most beneficial to slow down and find joy in what already exists or is attainable.
My daily treats, paired with the solo dates, are just a few ways that I push myself to be more comfortable with independence, find moments of peace in between my classes and most of all romanticize what’s typically seen as mundane, like studying or walking. If you take the time to look, there are beautiful moments everywhere; my favorite example at UCLA is the phrase “Nothing is too wonderful to be true” engraved above the doors of Kaplan Hall.
While my small but certain happiness is fulfilled by a matcha latte, your daily treat can be anything. Maybe it’s your favorite cookie from the dining hall or a candlelit bath after a long study sesh. Some days are admittedly more difficult than others, regardless of whether you have a small treat in your backpack or not, but it certainly can help.
To all my fellow college girls: the search for love is one of the most universally pursued journeys for all age groups, not just us. But alongside the narrative of finding romantic love among others, self-love and dating yourself is something that should be just as encouraged. I hope you’ll join me in finding small but certain happiness with a daily treat.