Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How To Be Alone

As a perpetually single woman in her late 20s, I’ve run out of single friends. There are only so many dinners and game nights I can go to as a 3rd or 5th wheel before I start going crazy. But without any single friends, the chance of finding someone to go out to dinner with, to go dancing with, to go to the movies with, etc, are slim to none. What option does that leave? I decided that 27 was going to be the year that I didn’t miss out on anything because I would have to do it alone. It’s been hard so far but rewarding as well.

I started with concerts. There’s always someone coming to town that I’m dying to see and rarely can I find a concert-buddy. I started with big arena/theatre type shows, where I have a designated seat and can show up just in time for the band to start and have a book or my iphone to amuse me if there is an intermission. Then I graduated to bar shows. This was trickier but I found that if I sat at the bar, there’s a steady stream of people coming by to try and strike up a conversation with or even some friendly bartenders to amuse when things are slow. And once the band starts, standing up in the crowd with a bunch of fans singing along or dancing, lost in the music, you’re no longer alone.

Going to lunch/dinner alone can feel embarrassing. You feel like all the couples and friends and families are watching you wondering why you couldn’t find anyone to even share a meal with. Like you should be at home where lonely people belong, eating a microwave dinner and watching TV with your twelve cats. Or is it just me that feels like that? Either way, eating in a restaurant alone is rarely much fun. So from my recent experience, I offer the following suggestions:

- Bring a good book. If you’re lost in a world of characters, drama and adventure, you won’t notice anything else. And people will probably be trying to spy the cover to see what’s so interesting.
- Sit by the window. Who doesn’t love to people watch? Make a game out of finding the most awkward couple in the restaurant. You’ll probably be having a way better time than them.
- If you’re at a pub, sit at the bar. Most often you’ll find someone else alone or a friendly bartender to share a laugh with.
- Lose yourself in thought, order something you love and forget about everyone else. Cause no one is really looking at you anyway, they are all lost in their own thoughts.

There are lots of activities out there that don’t require a partner or group to share them with. Go to the movies - When the lights go down, no one is going to notice one more person sitting in the crowd. Go to a museum - You can spend as long as you want on a painting you love or an exhibit that interests you without having to worry about if someone else is bored or what they want to see. Go for a walk or hike - Enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, listen to your headphones or just lose yourself in thought. Go shopping - Spend all the time you want in the change room and try on something silly or extravagant. Take a class - Learn to dance, to cook, or to create something beautiful. You may even find some new single friends while you're at it.

I think what’s hardest to remember when you’re doing any activity alone is that no one is watching, no one cares, no one notices. Everyone is wrapped up in their own lives and relationships, they aren’t judging you for eating alone or having a good time alone. In fact, the people who do notice you, will probably do so because they are jealous.

There is a singer/songwriter/poet from Nova Scotia named Tanya Davis who I think gives the best advice on the subject...

What do you like to do alone?

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  1. Great first post, Chrisy!
    I agree, it can be pretty intimidating to go out there on your own. I actually started going to bar shows alone, I still find it difficult to go to arena shows on my own... but I'm also cheap so I would find it odd to spend that much on a show and not have anyone to share it with. Haha.

    I absolutely love that video. I've had it in my favourites on Youtube for a while, and I go back to it every so often, just to remind myself that being alone is totally okay :)

  2. Tanya Davis is one of my fave singer/songwriters. Last time I went to see her was in a coffee shop and I was, as usual, alone. This Friday she's playing a show in a venue about 45 minutes away, but since I don't drive I'm very sadly going to miss it. Her songs and poems are beautiful and interesting, and make me feel like I'm not alone... Which I think is one of the things that makes an artist incredible.

    I spent $100 on a ticket to see Melissa Ethridge (despite only knowing one song) on the 28th because Serena Ryder is opening. I don't fork out the money for arena shows often, but if someone I really love is playing...

  3. I sort of relate this type of thing to being in a fitness class. You don't know what you're doing and are afraid everyone is looking at you... WHEN in reality, everyone is only paying attention to themselves! Exact same thing with going out single. ;)

    I find going out on my own to be very empowering.

    I started salsa dance lessons in January. All by myself. It feels great! I tried to take an art class, but it was full.. BUT will be taking one in the near future. I also went to a bar this weekend for salsa night.. and I was all by myself. I ended up knowing a couple people, but I ended up making new friends and sitting with them. It was a really great feeling :)

    I do so much on my own as it is... it's just going to events, is sometimes tough. I workout alone, I grocery shop alone, I cloth shop alone, I go for walks and hikes alone.

    I honestly love being alone. Alone in my own thoughts and in my own little bubble. I just need to branch out and do MORE stuff alone. While I don't think I really hold myself back from doing things because I'm single... sometimes I do. I need to stop that ;)

    Great post! I will watch the link later ;)

  4. I know exactly what you mean. I'm going to be 29 this May and I have been single for three years. At first it was very hard for me to adjust - I felt like everyone was staring at me and laughing. Not so. I go everywhere by myself now and I quite enjoy it - I prefer it that way. Means I don't have to make awkward conversation with anyone and I don't have to worry about that person not wanting to do what I wanted to do.

  5. Such a great post! Many people have this problem, it's just that no one ever talks about it...

    It felt odd doing things alone in the beginning, but as you said, once you realize that no one is really looking, it's a blast! You can do whatever YOU want without someone nagging you on the side. I've grown to LOVE shopping on my own, going to movies and concerts alone... and I'm always surprised to find that many others do the same. Concerts and movies are great alone - once it's dark, no one pays attention! Plus, it's always easier to find ONE great concert seat, than two ;) Why should we have to miss out on great opportunities because no one will join us?!

    Besides, when you do things alone, you can do them on your own time, at your leisure. No compromising, or having to adjust to someone else's schedule.
    In fact, I'm even planning on going on a group trip this spring! I won't know anyone... but part of the fun will be meeting new people!

  6. I'm hoping to fly down to Tennessee for Bonnaroo this year. Alone. If I can pull this off, I think I'll be able to do anything alone. But it is looking pretty scary so far!

  7. I spent a lot of time alone before I got married. I still bring a book with me everywhere I go, actually.

    Even having a partner doesn't guarantee you will have friends to do things with. All my friends seem to be busy with their children, grandchildren, partners, etc. And it's nice to have a husband, but it's also nice to have someone ELSE to go out with sometimes.

    Congratulations on your first post!