Why is being alone so difficult? And why is being alone in public even harder? People can’t seem to grasp the concept that I will go and do things by myself.
This instalment of How to Tackle is about embracing ‘me time’ and enjoying your own company more than you might allow yourself to. Sometimes public solitude isn’t that bad. I promise you won’t regret it.
“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” – Henry David Thoreau
Being alone in public isn’t always done out of choice, but I won’t deny myself the chance to do things I enjoy just because nobody will go with me. I also struggle with the fact that my friends either A) live too far away to go to events frequently or B) don’t have the same taste as me.
So here are a few tips and examples to encourage you to take the plunge and go to something by yourself. Don’t deny yourself the opportunity of seeing that obscure band next time they’re in town, and don’t wait for the DVD release of that movie you’ve been dying to see for months, just because nobody will go with you. Go by yourself! Treat yourself to some you time.
GOING TO GIGS ALONE – I love live music. I also love my family and friends, but sometimes you’ve got to do things alone. For example, I really love Enter Shikari and I’ve probably seen them about 10 times now, and only on one occasion have I see them with friends- and that’s purely because they were supporting Thirty Seconds to Mars. Just because none of my friends like this particular band doesn’t mean that I won’t go and see them! I particularly struggled with gigs at university. I either knew nobody who wanted to go to the same gigs, or if I did know people who were going I didn’t know them well enough to invite myself along.
Doing something alone is all about choice – your choice. It is easier for one person weave in-between people and get close to the front of a gig, but it is also easy to stand at the back of the room if you desire. You get to choose your spot, sing-a-long as much as you like, and leave when you want to.
MAKE FRIENDS – Whatever event you’re at in the first place, then the chances are that the people around you almost certainly have similar tastes to you. Make friends with other people around you – clearly you both have amazing taste to be at the same event in the first place, so you have that in common already! Not only can you keep an eye out for each other, and stop you from feeling as awkward, but you’re meeting someone who you never would have spoken to if you were stuck exclusively talking to the friends you came with.
GOING TO THE CINEMA ALONE – The cinema is arguably the easiest place to be alone in public. You’re sitting in a dark room in silence for a couple of hours, why do you need someone to sit next to you? Plus you don’t have to compromise on where you want to sit, you can buy as many overpriced snacks as you like, and you can cry as loud as you like without judgement. Going to the cinema alone is great. Plus every cinema has self-service machines now so you don’t even have to admit to a cashier that you’re going alone if you’re self-conscious about it.
- Always have your phone to hand. It is the iconic crutch of every individual who finds themselves alone in public. When you start to feel uncomfortable in public you can always escape to the online world (and moan at the people who decided not to come with you)!
- Go to the bar. It doesn’t even need to have anything alcoholic, but just holding a drink can make you feel more relaxed, plus queueing up at the bar can kill a good fifteen minutes of time.
- Do things on your own time. This may seem pretty obvious, but you can come and go as you please. If you want to turn up just before the movie starts and skip the trailers – great. If you don’t fancy standing around by yourself during the support acts at a gig then don’t force yourself to. Just make sure you don’t miss the entire show!
- Just relax it’s not the end of the world if you’re spending a couple of hours by yourself.
At the end of the days NOBODY CARES, so why should you?
Granted, it can be a bit daunting, but honestly 99% of this worry is from our own presumptions about what other people will think. Once you get over your initial apprehension you get to see or do something that you enjoy without dragging an unwilling accomplice along who might hamper your experience. What’s to lose?
Whilst I wrote this the other day, this morning Stephen Fry fittingly posted THIS LINK about how to be alone, but not lonely, and exploring the benefits of solitude. Whilst this focuses more on private solo activities, such as cooking, reading, and watching TV, this line stood out to me: ‘Try to reflect on the pleasure these activities give you rather than the fact that you’re alone – and you may then feel that being alone is a more positive thing.’