Since graduating from college and moving 8+ times in 4 years, I’ve found myself on my own much more often than I was used to. At first, it was a tough transition from college and constantly being surrounded by friends to diving into the deep-end of adulthood independence.
Over time, however, I’ve learned to embrace being alone in public and the confidence and self-assurance that comes along with it. I’ve also learned some tricks of the trade that I would love to share with all my independent ladies out there.
1. Bring something interesting to do.
I never show up solo to Happy Hour without my Day Designer and a good book to read. It’s nice to sip on a cocktail and lose myself in the pages of a great novel, and I love setting my goals and planning out my week. I cannot begin to tell you how many conversations started about what I was reading/writing. You can cater this to your particular skill set and hobbies. Bring a sketchbook, knit a sock, compose a song, become Ron Swanson and carpenter yourself a rocking chair. Ya know, keep it simple.
2. Be confident in your solitary state.
I know being out alone can make you feel self-conscious and like a giant glaring spotlight is pointing right at you. Or that there is some stigma attached to a woman sitting at a bar by herself like she’s only there to pick up a man. I call bullshit on BOTH of those sentiments. First of all, nobody is paying attention to you. They’re busy with their own lives and trying to drown their Monday sorrows with Jack Daniels and a crapton of pasta. Secondly, just follow step #1 and you won’t even be worried about what’s going on around you; you’ll be so absorbed in what you are doing.
3. Make friends with the staff.
I grew up in the restaurant industry and have worked in every type of bar/restaurant that you can think of. Servers and bartenders are some of the coolest, hard-working peeps around. Plus, they’re typically friendly, outgoing and incredibly easy to talk to. I’ve also met a lot of restaurant owners sitting around at various spots. ProTip: You know it’s an awesome spot when the owner is super involved.
4. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger.
The world is bursting at the seams with vibrant and interesting human beings. This tip is a little more difficult for me because I am not the world’s most extroverted person. I usually do a little mental prep and rehearse what I’m going to say five times in my head before opening my mouth. It really helps to feel less lonely chatting up someone new and I am always SHOCKED to discover how much I have in common with a total stranger. Who knows, your new best friend might be out there just waiting to be plucked up!
5. Go exploring!
I know these tips have seemed very restaurant specific but that’s honestly where most of my expertise comes from. I go to the movies alone a lot, but seeing as that is a rather solitary activity in and of itself I can’t really give you any tips aside from: if you put a straw down the center of your popcorn and pour the melted butter down through the straw it evenly distributes that liquid gold so you can enjoy perfectly coated popcorn for the duration of the film. There is a concert coming up that I am seriously considering going to by myself… so TBD on that. Hiking is a great solo activity, shopping of course, museums, zoos and coffee shops. You can do pretty much anything on your own, aside from riding a tandem bicycle so sorry about that.
6. NEVER let being alone keep you from experiencing life the way you want to.
As a single 26 year old woman in this world it can feel hard and lonely when so many of my peers are engaged, in love, settling down and constantly surrounded by their gorgeous awesome support system of friends. I do very much enjoy my independence, but I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I’m wonder woman and I can do it all on my own.
Making friends as an adult is so much harder than I ever anticipated. I was recently promoted at work and reached out to every single person I knew in Pittsburgh to come out and celebrate with me and nobody could make it. Part of me just wanted to go curl up in my bed and cry because I felt so lonely and friendless. But, I trekked out on my own and Happy Houred solo. I cheersed myself on my accomplishment, had a bomb dinner, chatted up the dude next to me who got some kind of shot that was lit on fire with a teepee of wood on top of it and had much more fun than if I had thrown a pity party in my bed. I’m currently a one woman wolf-pack and I’m okay with that.