Are you afraid of doing things alone? I’m not. I’m afraid of doing things alone in front of other people. Although I haven’t conducted any scientific research about this, I’d bet my most beloved furry coat that most people feel the same.
Think about it: having a piece of cake by yourself in the privacy of your apartment (think Miranda in Sex & The City) is not perceived the same say as having a piece of cake by yourself in an upscale restaurant full of couples and birthday parties.
Three weeks ago, I went to a Future Islands show. By myself. Surrounded by 3000 people. If that doesn’t sound the slightest bit intimidating to you, then you should know that I envy you; you and your unwavering-what’s-the-big-deal self-confidence.
For those of you wondering, I went all by myself because my boyfriend had to work last minute. And since I like throwing myself a little challenge, I saw it as an opportunity to say ‘screw you’ to my millennial fear of being seen alone. Here’s how it went:
2:13 pm: Am I really going to the show tonight? Should I? My mom thinks I shouldn’t go alone… but I’m 27 years old. Come on girl, you spent a full week in Japan all by yourself. You can manage a venue 20 minutes away from your place. You got this, girl!
5:36 pm: I’m not going. I don’t need to prove anything to anybody. No one knows that I’m supposed to go see Future Islands tonight (other than the bf and my mama). Put on your PJs and watch Planet Earth II on Netflix. Let David Atttenborough be your hot date for the night.
6:48 pm: You’re pathetic. What are you even scared of??? People won’t notice you’re by yourself. People have more important things to worry about (ex: Should I get another beer? I wonder if the singer has a girlfriend? Did I feed the cat?) than looking at you and wondering why, to use Robyn’s words, you’re dancing on your own. Come one, do it! Then you can write a post about it. Do a bourbon shot before you leave, it’ll calm you.
8:30: On the bus, on my way to the show: Can’t believe I’m doing it!!! I’M DOING I… Damn it. I forgot the shot.
9:01 pm: I just stepped into the venue. It’s PACKED with faces I don’t know. It feels like a first day at a new high school and it’s lunch time and all the tables are full with kids wearing uniforms and I’m butt-naked. Holly molly, I need a drink.
9:04 pm: A beer is 8 $. I don’t have any cash on me and I need to spend 10 $ to use my credit card (cause yeah, it’s the kind of emergency that calls for a credit card). Should I double fist? The image of me having one shitty beer in each hand with no one to talk to feels somehow too lame to handle. Where’s the ATM?
9:15 pm: Alright, where should I stand? Let’s go for the middle part of the floor, where it’s crowded enough for people not to notice that I’m alone, but roomy enough for people to notice if ever I faint and/or die. I use the very little knowledge of body language that I have and cross my arms to make it clear that I’m not looking for a husband, which also makes the ring I’m wearing on my ring finger way more visible (FIY: I’m not engaged). Oh yes, I’ve got this.
9:18 pm: EVERYONE’S WATCHING ME, I CAN FEEL IT!!! They must think I’m weird and/or sad, but I’m not! Should I tell them why I’m alone? But, tell who? I must tell them that I came here alone willingly. That I have friends. And a boyfriend. And that I’m not going to die of loneliness and be devoured by my seven cats. Shut up and drink.
9:28 pm: What if I bump into someone I know? Just say it’s for your blog. Say it’s for research. Even better: say it’s for SCIENCE.
“Hey Joëlle! So great to see you. You’re by yourself?”
“Yeah, I’m writing an article for my blog. It’s a behavioural study on millennials and how they cope with solitude in crowded spaces. It’s basically for the greater good of science.”
“Oh wow Joëlle! You’re so amazing! You’re like a role model to me blah, blah, blah…”
9:30 pm: Yesss, the show is starting. Attention is finally off of me.*
*Have you ever heard of the ‘spotlight effect’? It’s the phenomenon in which we overestimate the attention people pay to us. I clearly suffer from that disorder.
9:52 pm: Oh, I know that song! 🎶Ooh ooh, baby don’t hurt no more, ooh ooh, keep from cry… 🎶 Well, well, well, I’m singing along (alone). High five to me!
10:34 pm: IT’S MY SONG!!! Next thing I know: I’m jumping, clapping my hands, stomping my feet. That’s it, I just broke the glass ceiling of public solitude. I’m freeeeeeee!!!
10:52 pm: Three songs away from the end, the unthinkable happens.
“Are you alone? Do you want to come dance with us?”
It’s a girl with a couple of friends who’s been 4-feet away from me the entire show.
“… Uh, yeah. Sure!”
First thing I tell her, instinctively, is why I’m alone. Damn it. It means I’m still super insecure about being seen alone. Oh well, I guess it’s there’s no overnight cure. Ten minutes pass by, we talk, we dance and then, voilà! The show is over. She invites me for drinks with her friends, but I tell her I already have plans with mine (which is actually true).
11:09 pm: As I’m waiting for the bus to go back home, I can’t stop thinking how genuinely nice it was for her to do that. But then I remember seeing her whispering in her guy friend’s ear right after I joined their group — I think she might have been trying to hook us up. Or maybe it’s just the spotlight effect talking.
Photos by Melikak Dez
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