Out at dinner recently, I was making small talk with the waiter, and when he asked what my plan was for the weekend, I said that I was heading off to an amusement park. (I am a huge fan of roller coasters.)
He responded: “Oh that sounds like so much fun! I’d love to do that, but I just moved here, so I don’t have anyone to go with.”
I stopped, confused. What did one have to do with the other?
The unfair stigma of one
There’s definitely a stigma against activities done solo. “Only one for dinner?” is a common refrain by the hostess, with that extra word “only” thrown in as a giveaway of our cultural bias against singletons. “Am I not enough?” is usually something I want to say in response (with fake petulance), but the point probably would be lost, so I usually hold my tongue.
And this is unfortunate (the stigma, not me holding my tongue), because there are a great deal of benefits to venturing out solo, whether it’s to dinner, to a movie, to a class, to the beach, or on some other adventure.
- You don’t put your life on pause. “I would do this if I had someone to go with” is a great excuse for not doing things. But our time on this planet is very short. I don’t mean to remind you of your own mortality, but just saying that every day is precious, and waiting around for the optimal moment might mean that you miss out on a lot. Perhaps even many moments that might be better than you imagined.
- You force yourself out of your comfort zone. For many of us, being alone is difficult, and most definitely contravenes people’s expectations. You may be judged, but to hell with them. This is a great opportunity to practice managing your own discomfort, which, with practice, will allow you to do ever-more-difficult things. (And people may just be jealous.)
- You can do more. Let’s face it, while it may be emotionally difficult to do things alone, it’s infinitely easier logistically. So take advantage of this, and do whatever you want without needing to clear it by anyone. After all, you’re very unlikely to find one person who likes everything you like. So go do awesome things.
- You will become more awesome. I have found that a well-diversified life is a more satisfying one. To be able to say that I do more than one thing (such that I am more than what I do) is very freeing, because it means that I’m not tied so much to any specific vocation. Last year I decided to bike 200 miles from Seattle to Portland, even though I had no experience doing anything of the sort. I did this by myself, and I had some great experiences out of it. Don’t you think that by going and doing, you will become more enriched and, by extension, more interesting and intriguing to others? I think so.
- You will meet people. This is the biggest irony here, that people who are reluctant to fly solo will keep themselves from going where they are most likely to find people to make them not be solo. Always wanted to sign up for a dance class, but don’t have a partner to go with? There might be someone else (or five) there in a similar position .
But whether you feel alone and want to connect with others, or you have others to connect with, I still recommend venturing out by yourself. There are powerful personal benefits to being a “party of one”.
But enough about me: Do you feel comfortable going out by yourself?