I've been going out alone a lot lately. It's been an interesting experiment in my social abilities. I am a HUGE introvert, incredibly shy, and a terrible conversationalist. It was not too long ago when the thought of going out alone would give me a panic attack. What will people think? What will I do? Just stand there? By myself? What if somebody sees me???
But with my still somewhat recent in the grand scheme of things adventures into music playing land, I've been wanting to go out more. I want to support the bands I've befriended and play with. I want to support the venues that let me play on their stages. I want to check out bands I've been hearing about. And when those events happen on a Monday night at 11pm, it's really hard to find people who want to come along with you. I also don't like to make a big show about making plans to go with other people because then I am fully committed. I like doing it on a whim. That way if I change my mind at the last minute, I'm not letting anyone down. I'm only held to my own desires.
So, I've been venturing out to shows by myself lately and, as I said above, it's been interesting. Some are easier than others. Some I know I will run into people I know well and can hang out with once I get there. Other times though, it's a crapshoot (is that one word or two?). I go. I get a beer. I sit at the bar or find a table or place to stand, and I just hang out. My iPhone has been an incredible aid in these adventures in solitude. I can always flip through Twitter when I find eye contact is something I want to make with no one. It's a balance because, though I go out alone and assume I will see someone I know and can chat with, often times I don't want to see anyone. Because then I have to talk. And then I freeze and look like an idiot. But I really do want to see people. But I just never know what to say when I do. I suppose 'hello, how are you?' works well.
It's also interesting to actually notice how many other people are going out alone, too. It's quite a large number, really. And they all do the same thing. They find a place to plant, grab a drink, pull out their phones, and occasionally talk to other people as they pass by. Sometimes us loners even talk to each other.
I've found being forced to feel totally exposed being out by myself - which is weird because you're alone so you're less of a racket and people probably really don't notice you as much - has made me feel a lot more comfortable with myself. I can stand here and watch this band and bop along or sing along all by myself and that's okay. It could also be an age thing, too. The older someone gets, the less they care what other people think of them. Maybe I'm finally hitting that mark.
This is all not to say that I don't enjoy the company of others and prefer to go out alone. Believe me, that is not the case. I've just been surprised that I've been able to do it at all without totally running from the room for fear of looking like a weirdo.
I guess I just think it's good to step outside of your comfort zone every once in a while and see what you can handle. Each time I head out the door to go see a show by myself, it gets a little easier. I'm learning how to talk to people and that's probably a good thing.