4 thoughts on “Doing Things Alone: Who Is the Uncomfortable One?

  • July 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Though many people tend to focus on the bad side of doing things by yourself, there are many bonuses that come with going solo as well. If you travel by yourself you are more likely to be upgraded for free. If your flight is cancelled and the next flight only has one seat available, your odds improve greatly of catching that flight. If a restaurant only has a small, two person table available and all the other parties waiting are three or more, you’ll probably jump the wait. I’ve cut my time waiting in lines at theme parks considerably being filling in an open seat. And if nobody wants to go to concerts or theater with me I often get great seats by buying just one ticket.

    Last year I started going dancing at a nightclub by myself. Rarely did anyone want to go, and if they did I usually spent the night babysitting them while they got drunk. I just wanted to dance. I had no social expectations when I started going alone but I’ve met more people in the last year than I did the previous 19 years combined of going out nightclubbing. Also, when I started working out alone at a public park I knew nobody there. Over the last couple of years I’ve met about three dozen people, from different walks of life, who share a love of fitness.

    I love my friends dearly but if we don’t share a common interest I’d rather just do something by myself. I’ve learned that the best way to meet people who like to do the things you like to do is to, well, go out and do them. I don’t let going alone stop me from doing anything. You never know what might happen or who you might meet along the way. It’s all a matter of perspective.

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    • July 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experiences — very inspiring!

      Reply
  • July 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    One of the saddest things I’ve ever heard: a woman leading a entrepreneurship workshop I took mentioned that she was “OK with” not having a boyfriend except for all of the wonderful restaurants she couldn’t try until she got one. I was flabbergasted that this would come up in 2000, in San Francisco, and from the teacher of a women’s empowerment course.

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  • July 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I wish this had been published in 2006. Or better yet, even sooner. I remember my reaction the first time in college a friend told me she frequently went to movies by herself. I also remember my amazement when I noticed a young lady in the middle of a crowded restaurant, sitting alone, reading a paperback book. I had naturally assumed she was waiting for her friends to join her, but she dined and left alone. But my hero was a friend who had his pilot’s license and did everything alone. He would fly wherever he wanted for a weekend vacation, go skydiving, hang gliding, run marathons, whatever suited his fancy, alone.

    A few years laters, during my first job interview, my potential employer was shocked when I told him I ate out all the time by myself. I prefer hotel restaurants because the waitstaff assumes I am a business traveler. I also tend to frequent restaurants with wi-fi because, unlike a paperback book, people assume when you have a laptop that you are doing something work related. I still hesitate to attend fancy restaurants for dinner alone. I had always taken it personally, but I do believe restaurant personnel must discriminate against solo diners. I’ve always assumed they disapproved of my appearance or manner. I have been ignored by hosts and hostesses innumerable times. I have waited n line while group after group came in after me and were seated. I’m usually seated at a table for two in the middle of the dining area, instead of a booth even when I’m the only one in the restaurant. Just as commonly, after getting a table, the server never comes by to take my order. All these years I’ve thought I was “singled out” because something was wrong with me. Or that the waitstaff concluded they wouldn’t make as much on my order and tip, as they would on a table for 6 or more knowing they would automatically get 15% gratuity. It never occurred to me I was being ignored because the restaurant employees mistakenly assumed someone else would be joining me. I’ve probably left at least 50 restaurants either because the host or server ignored me for half an hour or more. My philosophy was that I am the customer, why should I be the one asking them to do their job?

    I do think wi-fi has made sitting alone more common and “acceptable” because servers are now accustomed to business people working from home, say when their spouses are working at a different job.

    As far as other activities, if you want to meet other people, having a dog is key.
    I lived in my neighborhood for over 3 years before I starting meeting my neighbors. When I got my first dog, I met most of my block.

    It’s somehow ironic that just this year, I have decided to remain single for life. Not because I don’t have a choice or I’ve “given up.” But because I’m perfectly happy with myself and I’m completely free of the societal myth that you must have a partner to “complete you.”

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