I was recently inspired by Olympic figure skating to try ice skating, which I had never done before. I asked several people to go with me, but they were gone for the weekend or busy, so I decided I would go by myself (while overly confident) during a week with the decent weather. Since it is typically a group activity, I delayed going for several days because I was self-conscious to go alone.
There is a social stigma that people should not be alone in public. People may comment to each other that it is “sad” a man is sitting by himself at a restaurant. Your friend may beg and beg you to go somewhere so she doesn’t have to go alone. People think if they go somewhere alone, they will appear as a "loser" or "weird," but it is not weird at all.
Coffee shops or stores are places where it is not odd to go by yourself. What is different about other places? Why is it so inconceivable to go to a movie theater or church alone?
Let’s push into an even more uncomfortable territory. Have you ever considered going to a concert alone? A sports event or trying a new sport? Have you ever said, “Table for one, please?” at a fancy restaurant?
Those things might bring up feelings of social anxiety, like self-consciousness and fearing embarrassment or humiliation. But, as a public place they serve everyone, even someone flying solo. What if all of your friends are busy? What if literally nobody wants to do the thing you want to do? Don’t pass up your interests and opportunities. Go by yourself. It will be worth it.
Doubtful? Take it from me. Those are all real things I have done within the past two years. It began when I wanted to see the movie Hidden Figures in the movie theater but nobody else wanted to go. I was painfully aware of the “alone in public” stigma, but I was determined to see it on the big screen. I went by myself after much internal persuasion. It was life-changing.
Yes, the movie was good, but more importantly I realized nobody cares that you are alone. As long as you are okay with it, that is all that matters. I was nervous before every single activity I went to, but I am thrilled and proud I went to every single one.
Church was the exact same.
I had an amazing time at the concert.
I cheered loudly with the rest of the fans in the football student section.
The fancy restaurant had the fastest service I have ever encountered.
Because of my previous experience, I knew I could do ice skating solo too. So once again, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and figured out where to park and pay, and voila! Suddenly I was clinging onto the rails while sliding on freshly smooth ice. Guess what? I taught myself how to ice skate. And again, it was entirely worth it.
People were helpful, friendly, and sociable, and it was fun by myself. I talked to several people off and on while I was there, and I never felt socially isolated or socially anxious. I’m glad I went because if I didn’t go, I would be even more disappointed that I didn’t try.
It’s important to not let yourself be held back by society’s silly stigmas and let them prevent you from doing something you want to do. If people are busy or don’t want to go, don’t let that deter you. While activities are fun with friends, they can be enjoyable and even more fulfilling when you take them on yourself.
It’s okay to be scared or anxious. It may take some time to adjust, but it is liberating to indulge in a personal interest. It is important to not brush things off for later. You can’t wait on others for opportunities happening now.
I have embraced my independence and confidence by going places alone. I have grown as a person with each and every activity I undertake by myself. I used to rely on others, but now if they are not available, I still go. It is empowering, exhilarating, and a new experience.