From Our Readers
September 22, 2015 7:30 am

I used to feel anxious about attending a party alone.

I love being alone and have always found comfort in “me time.” It’s necessary for me to charge my internal batteries and proverbially re-set before another week of work unfolds. In the past, if I was invited to an event and wasn’t completely in the mood, I would weigh my options. Plan A involved getting off the couch. Plan B involved pajama pants, peanut M&Ms, and some much needed kitty cuddle time. You can guess which course of action I took.

I hated the thought of being alone at an event surrounded by people, while I stood around awkwardly gazing into my phone, refreshing my Facebook feed until the band came on that I was waiting for, or the poet began reading from their latest collection. I was caught up in an idea that the experience of the event would be more enjoyable if someone came with me, whether it was a family member, friend, significant other, or colleague.

What was I afraid would happen if I ventured to go alone?

As an intro-extrovert, I constantly straddle the line between wanting to be alone and wanting to go out with friends. I had always felt comfortable in either territory, but it wasn’t until I turned 27 that I started to feel calm about attending an event alone, without the armor of a phone or friend to make me feel protected and occupied; to make me feel less vulnerable.

I got out of a long-term relationship six months ago, and shortly after immersed myself in a plan to pave the way for the life I had envisioned having. As the token single girl out of my group of betrothed friends, I never felt like I was missing out by not being in a relationship anymore. If anything, I felt like I was finally able to focus on my needs, without guilt. I felt free.

So why did I still feel the need to text all of my close friends to find out if they could join me for X-Y-Z event, and not just go it alone? I’ve never felt uncomfortable being alone in a non-social setting, so what is it about a social gathering that implies awkwardness? Like the assumed pity others will feel in seeing me alone will somehow turn me into the Wicked Witch of the West, left to melt into my own lonely puddle, while onlookers gawk and point.

Then something happened recently that shook my world. I attended a party alone (without fear). Not only that, but I attended a party alone, as a single woman, amongst mostly couples. It was my friend’s party and I knew people who would be there, but they weren’t my close friends. We wouldn’t be able to latch onto each other and share inside jokes that only the most intimate friends can know.

It was the first time I felt at ease going to an event alone, and not only that, but I had a wonderful time. I let go of worry and promised myself to have fun and be open.

I didn’t feel like I had to keep looking down at my phone, and I didn’t worry about sitting alone beside doting couples. I took in the scene before me: a sea of gin-and whiskey-sipping men and women in their twenties and beyond, all just trying to figure it out.

I found that if you’re open to it, you can engage in enlightening conversations with strangers, provided that you’re fully present and not preoccupied with looking at your phone, or wondering what’s on TV that might be more interesting. That’s not to say that forcing yourself to go out and venture into the unknown will always produce a desirable outcome. I will say though, that allowing yourself to be open to something that seems daunting or boring can be eye-opening. It is in those moments that you discover what you want, and better understand who you are.

People often encourage single men and women to enjoy a social gathering because you never know whom you might meet, and on this particular occasion I was pleased to be met with the real me, who doesn’t need to rely on anything outside of myself to have a good time. This is what was revealed when I dared to go to an event with me, myself, and I. No phone, no wing-man or wing-woman, no plan, just me.

Carly Perkins is a writer, tap dancer, equal rights activist, and Mother of Kittens. Explore her existentialist musings at carlyperkins.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @carlyrperkins.

[Image via Fox]

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