I have now been single for eight years — well, longer, but single by choice for eight years. People seem to be under the impression that being alone is terrifying. I’m here to tell you, it is not that bad. Over the last eight years I have done a lot of things by myself I never thought I would do. Here is how they rank — on a scale of one to ten, one being “this actually might be more fun by myself” and ten being “moments away from drunkenly belting out All By Myself, while tears stream down your face” — and tips for how to make them better.
Before we getting going, understand that when I talk about going somewhere by myself I am talking completely alone. No date. No friend. No wing-man. No family member. Solo.
Going to the movies by yourself: One
As I was contemplating this blog, the New York Cut came out with this article about why you should go to the movies by yourself. Going to the movies by myself was a big, personal hurdle. Probably because going to the movies always seemed like a date-like thing to do. So going alone seemed sad and pathetic. I am here to tell you that is not the case. One, you are in a dark theater, all eyes are on the screen, so no one is paying any attention to you. Two, you never have to compromise on a movie. I love comic book movies; most of my friends do not. So, I can go online, pre-pay for my tickets at the theater with the seats that shake a bit when something explodes, and order snacks to be delivered to my seat so I feel like a VIP — seriously, you should’ve seen the look on the face of the kid next to me when my popcorn and soda were delivered. An added bonus is there was no one around to see me tear up at the end of Avenges Infinity War.
Going to shows by yourself: Four
Going to a show is definitely not better by yourself but it also isn’t hard to navigate. By show, I mean a live music show with no seats and preferably booze. If you were expected to sit, I think this would be harder but I can’t say for sure as this experiment is incomplete. For shows, I recommend getting there not too early, grabbing a beer, and then finding a spot near a wall. You can drink and rock out and look cool and detached. Which, let’s be honest, should always be your goal when going to a show.
Going to the theater by yourself: Two
While I have never been to a sit down concert by myself, I have been to the ballet. Much like a movie, once the show starts, the theater is dark and you aren’t expected to interact with your friend or date. But, unlike a movie, there is often an intermission, when a friend might be nice. But, even if you forget your mobile or it runs out of juice, there is always the Playbill to keep you occupied.
Dining alone: Seven
Dining alone is actually pretty easy so long as you have props — without a book or a fully charged phone the wait from the time you order to the time you get your food will feel like an eternity. My first day in Paris it was raining, I didn’t have a book or my journal or wi-fi, I stopped at a bistro, ordered food and could only sit there and listen to everyone around me speak French way too fast for me to comprehend anything. I learned my lesson quickly and never left the hotel without my journal again. Another good tip is to eat at the bar (when you aren’t in Paris and there aren’t bistros with outdoor seating everywhere). It feels more bad ass and bartenders are always super easy to talk to.
Going to outdoor beer drinking festivals by yourself: Nine
If you are wondering “what sort of person goes to an outdoor beer drinking festival by themselves?” I am right there with you. It wasn’t my plan to go by myself. I had planned to meet up with friends. But they were taking their sweet time getting ready and it was a nice day out and so I thought, I will just go a little early. Who knows, maybe I will run into someone I know. I know a lot of people in the neighborhood. But then I got there, bought beer tickets and my friends bailed. And I didn’t know anyone there. And then some random dude gave me more beer tickets. And it was still a nice day. But still, it was awful. So, after two beers, I decided there are some things I shouldn’t have to do alone while surrounded by people having fun. I then gave my extra beer tickets away and went home. Something that did help me through those two beers was finding a place to sit and people watch. I think I could have also made this better if I brought along Zuzu — cute dogs are great ice-breakers.
Going to sporting events by yourself: Six
Another instance of not intending to do something by myself. And this time, it wasn’t wholly by myself. My late, punk-ass friends eventually did show up. But for two and half innings I was rooting for the Phillies alone. For extroverts, this number would probably be lower as you are surrounded by people with at least one thing in common — they also are cheering for a team you like. For introverts, it is super easy to just get really enthralled by the game (or, in the instance of baseball, keeping score of the game). And, you don’t have to leave your seats (and your stuff unattended) because they bring booze and food to you. So long as you like beer and popcorn or peanuts or cotton candy.
Living alone: One
Living alone is the tits. Yes, if you share your space with someone you can split bills and chores and dog walking duties but if you live with someone you also have to compromise on what to watch at night and on weekends. And you are cleaning up their mess as well as yours, even if you are only cleaning half the time. And sometimes you just really want to be alone and quiet and order a disgusting amount of takeout and eat it in your underwear while watching Law & Order re-runs. Sure, your significant other loves you says they won’t care if you do this. But they will. They will judge you. Even if it is just in their head. And you can’t really let yourself go and really enjoy Thai peanut noodles and a bottle of wine in your underwear when someone is watching you. Don’t believe me, drop a chunk of noodles into your lap in front of your partner and tell me, do you pick them up and eat them or pick them up and throw them away? What would you do if you were alone?
Going to networking events by yourself: One
Okay, so this has nothing to do with dating but it is still one of those things most people do with someone. And that is wrong. With a colleague you and she will stand by a table or in a corner talking about work and not meeting anyone new. By yourself you will be more approachable and more likely to put yourself out there, which is why you are there in the first place — to meet new people. Next time you get an email to go to a networking happy hour, resist the urge to forward it to your work bestie. Trust me.
Going to weddings by yourself: Seven
This one is a bit of a cheat because chances are likely you will know someone else at the wedding so are you really alone? But, if the only person you know is the bride or groom, this would suck and I would recommend just sending a gift. If you will know everyone at your table, it might still be miserable because weddings are romantic and there is always slow dancing and too much drinking and so chances are likely, if you are the sort to get emotional about your relationship status, it is going to happen at a wedding. The good news is, though, that as we get older, more and more of our friends are married, so you can listen to them complain about how terrible their marriages are. Also, any poor decisions you make can be blamed on the open bar.
Going to art exhibits/openings by yourself: Four
I think art should be appreciate by yourself — you can take all the time you need with each piece. And you don’t have to listen to your friend belittle something you admire. However, it isn’t always great to be by yourself at a reception for an exhibit. They are crowded, so you can’t take your time. Everyone is giving their opinion. And there are drinks and mingling and probably music that some couple who just took lessons will inevitably, inappropriately, dance to. Still, this isn’t a hard spaced to navigate. You go, you look at art, you roll your eyes at the dude explaining the significance of the red in the piece to his date, and if the cocktail portion of the night becomes loathsome, you can always leave and head to a bar for a better glass of wine.
Going to races by yourself: Eight
I didn’t see this one coming but I remember it like I remember what I wore to my high school graduation. It was a four-mile race, in the evening. I was meeting up with friends after but I really liked this out-and-back course and so I signed up even though none of my friends wanted to join me. At the time, I ran most of my races by myself so it never occurred to me I would be going to the race alone. I got to the start area early — too early — stood around doing nothing, stretched, people watched, got jealous of everyone around me laughing and joking, put in my headphones but I could still see them laughing, finally got to line-up and was surrounded by people but felt so sad and alone. Now I have done it a couple of times and it hasn’t gotten any easier. I don’t know if it is the adrenaline or the nerves but every time I am at a starting line by myself I am close to tears. My only advice is if you find yourself at a race start alone, make sure you are wearing layers (you can toss along the way). The only thing worse than being sad and alone is being sad and alone and cold. Oh, and if you are doing the NYC Marathon alone, bring something to read (again that you can throw away before the start) you will be there for a while.
Travelling alone: Five
This one is smack in the middle because travelling alone and travelling with friends are at times both amazing and aggravating. I am lucky to have a number of friends who travel well together and we have been on a number of trips together. However, when it came to celebrating my birthday this year, I wanted to be in Paris, by myself. It was scary and I was warned I could find myself in a lonely, dark place — and I did, on my first day there; but that could just as easily been blamed on being tired and hungry. Still, my birthday was easily one of the greatest birthdays of my life. I spent the day exactly as I wanted to spend it without having to check in with anyone or compromise on anything. When you are travelling your days are pretty packed with activities that you don’t necessarily need a plus one. Even if you are on a relaxing vacation, isn’t relaxing a solo endeavor? Of course, if you are newly single, and it wasn’t your choice, perhaps really listen to what the Go-Go’s are singing and bring a friend with you.