My best friend from 7th grade is getting married in two weeks and I couldn’t be happier – not only because I’m the maid of honor (holla!), but because it gives me joy to see the people I care about find the people with whom they will share their lives.
Marriage is a beautiful promise, and it also means cementing an activity partner for life. For any movies, road trips, family outings, concerts, etc., having a significant other means always having someone to invite. It means knowing that when you pick up your ticket at will call, you’ll often be handing it to them. I haven’t had a boyfriend for two years now, and being single has allowed me to do a lot on my own.
Initially, I tried buying two tickets to events and simply giving them away to friends in an effort to be inclusive. Though at the core this was a good idea, it started adding up. Two tickets to Hayes Carll: $50. Two tickets to the Lakers vs. Nets: $180. Two tickets to Holler If You Hear Me on Broadway: $100.
Having a friend with me to experience these events: costly (no, not priceless, MasterCard. Interest rates are real.). The other disappointment of buying two tickets is when there is nobody to give it to. So if all of my friends are busy that night, now not only am I stuck paying for two tickets, but I feel guilty for taking up the space.
What if there was someone else who sincerely wanted to meet Kacey Musgraves, but I took up the ticket with my potential, busy friend? I’ll never know. This is also, again, where if I had a boyfriend/husband, he’d probably have gone with me either as a fan of hers too or so I’d have company. Still, I went alone because Kacey Musgraves is awesome, and I now have a signed copy of Pageant Material as a result (whaddup!).
Since most of my friends are coupled up or have kids or are flat out busy, I go to practically everything alone and I’m stoked to do it. This really freaks a lot of them out, especially the ones who are single.
Wait, you’re going to see Miranda Lambert alone? Yes. Wait, who’d you see Straight Outta Compton with? Myself. Who’d you go to the Newport Folk Festival with? Just me. Would it be amazing to have someone to share these experiences with? Of course! And of course, sometimes my friends tag along if they’re free (in scheduling and in cost). Though, having friends and having a significant other as accompaniment are completely different.
When I want to see the New York Knicks play the Lakers and none of my friends are Lakers fans (Lakeshow!), it’s very easy for them to say, hey, thanks for the invite but a) I don’t have $90 plus expendable bucks right now, and b) I have no personal ties nor fan gear for those teams. That’s legit. I’m sure if I had a boyfriend (or my dream guy perhaps) he’d be like, duh, I’ll totally go to the game with you because a) that’s something you love, b) I know it means a lot to you, and c) basketball is the best game of all time!
Since I didn’t have any friends who wanted to see Kobe (and our several other injured players) sit on the sidelines at the time, I went by myself, and it was AMAZING. Spike Lee and Kobe met at half-time, they gave each other a hug, they exchanged some chummy, notable words that I couldn’t discern from my seats because they were incredibly far away from the court, and I turned to the guy next to me – a total stranger – and exclaimed, “Kobe and Spike are hanging out!” To which he responded, “Oh, word!” It was incredible! If I had been too scared to go alone, I might’ve missed this magical moment between two legends.
You know what else is kind of great about being alone? Once people realize that I’m semi-normal, they find it less intimidating to talk to me, and I meet all sorts of interesting folks who include me in their group.
At the Miranda Lambert show, the couple sitting in front of me realized that I was the only one in my row of three seats and couldn’t believe that I was by myself. She called me brave! He gave me a high five! She offered to buy me a beer! I told her I didn’t drink! He gave me another high five! We sang along to “Gunpowder and Lead”! We chatted about the struggle of being country fans in New York City! It was great!
Similarly, at The Newport Folk Festival, I talked to a really sweet older couple that realized I was alone and began treating me like their long lost daughter during The Barr Brothers’ set. I met a couple of chill surfers who held my spot at the front for Jason Isbell when I went to grab a juice. I even had someone ask me if I’d take their group photo because I looked so trustworthy (maybe)! All pretty awesome in my book!
I would’ve missed these experiences – Hozier, James FREAKING Taylor, The Lone Bellow, Fiona Apple, and more if I’d been too scared to go to Rhode Island and venture to the festival because I didn’t have somebody to accompany me.
Why are single people so scared to go out and attend events simply because they’ll be alone? What’s wrong with being alone? Isn’t it more powerful to say, “I’m alone because I won’t settle for anything less than what I deserve,” than to say, “I’m with this person I’m not really interested in because I can’t be alone,” or than saying, “I can’t go to that alone because I’m not comfortable being alone.”
I’ve had someone ask me, what do you do if you run into someone you know and they see that you’re alone? What’s the big deal anyways? What’s the worst that could come out of that conversation? Yeah, I came to see Amy alone. Just like how I cook alone and then sit at home and watch Friends re-runs on Netflix alone. What’s the difference between our private solitude and our public solitude?
There’s nothing shameful about being alone; it’s only bizarre that as a society we’ve secretly bestowed partaking in activities solo as social suicide or as unthinkable, and it’s not. That girl at the Miranda concert who called me “brave” was being sweet, but it’s not brave to go out on your own and do what you want to do. I’m not some feminist hero going out and slaying art exhibits and stabbing my stake into the sand with a flag inscribed, “Julia the brave came here on this day, solo! Yolo!”
No, bravery does not look like me going to the grocery store and grabbing lacinato kale alone. It’s not brave for me to sit at a bar and sip seltzer water alone; I simply don’t have cable and this game was blocked out on my NBA pass. All I’m doing is living my life on my own terms. There’s nothing brave about that, it’s pretty dang ordinary, and the fear of doing so alone shouldn’t keep anyone from living their life either.
So if you’re a single woman or man, ask yourself, what do you want to do but haven’t because you have nobody to go with? It can be as simple as seeing that band that none of your friends like and buying a ticket to see that band on your own. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to sit in that seedy café your friends refuse to step into. Tomorrow, grab a book and get a cup of coffee there alone.
Eventually, you’ll be going to concerts, basketball games, coffee shops, poetry readings, lectures, etc., alone and not even realize the difference. Or at least that’s how I came to be so comfortable attending events on my own. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on finding a relationship either; I hope when I find someone to share my life with, they’ll accompany me on these adventures, but I’m not going to put my life on pause until they materialize.
So, in two weeks, when I have to walk down the aisle for my best friend’s wedding with some dude I don’t know and have to explain that, yes, I was offered a plus one but I don’t have a plus one, I’ll be okay. See, before I attend this wedding, I’m going to a lecture about guitar picking on my lunch break alone. I’m also going to see Delta Rae in Williamsburg alone. Did I mention I’m stopping over in San Francisco to see the Amy Winehouse exhibit alone? Bonus: it’s stupendously easy to get a plane ticket and a concert ticket for one person.
This life is filled with endless opportunities to explore and learn and have all of these intricately woven, fleeting experiences. Earlier this year, I woke up and said, I want to run a half marathon and I DID IT ALONE. You deserve to allow yourself to chase after whatever lights you up and be open to these infinite chances. So, what do you want? Whatever it is, it’s worth pursing. Even if that means going it alone.