Some months ago, I bought a ticket for my maiden voyage to the Land of the Rising Sun, where I’ll venture to in March for about two-and-a-half weeks. Yes, I’m going to Japan, a foreign country that I’ve neither previously visited nor have any connections to, alone, and I’m fairly unphased. Checking into a capsule hotel for the first time? Cool. Navigating the countryside of Kyushu? Piece of cake. Even eating fugu feels like small potatoes in terms of putting myself out there.
But for whatever reason, going to a 3-hour gig in San Diego on Thursday night scared the wits out of me. In fact, I almost didn’t go. I mean, I had no one to go with, as none of my friends were quite familiar with who I was seeing. So what was I going to do, go and stand around like a loser?
Then it hit me. I’ve already done this once before. I even had the same worries: “What if people notice I’m alone?”, “What if people judge me?”, and any other ridiculously self-pandering, anxiety-clouded fantasies you could think of. I had them all, and I still went and had an amazing time. Perhaps it was the massage I got for myself or the How to Train Your Dragon 2 I got to watch, but I eventually shifted from my Self-Conscious Introvert mindset to my Fake Extroversion until you Make It one and dropped the $10 bucks for Penguin Prison at Bang Bang Restaurant in San Diego’s Gaslamp district. It just kind of happened, and from thereon I knew I was going.
The drive down couldn’t have been more pleasant as I switched between my audiobook version of The Alchemist and the new Spotify playlist I subscribed to, “Day Drinking With Hipsters”, which I highly recommend to all Spotifans regardless of their affinity (or lack thereof) for inebriation in broad daylight or the counterculture of the season. As I merged a little too quickly onto Highway 163, I felt my body get a little warmer, my stomach get a little gurglier. I was almost there. Like an athlete getting ready to take the field, I actually found myself needing to get “pumped up” for this. Was it really that big of a deal?
I remembered: I like to be alone some times. Maybe you’ll be one of the few people who believes me when I say this, but I truly am an introvert. I love to be a pioneer of the world, but you’ll often see me doing that solo. I go out paddle boarding alone, go hiking alone, and strongly prefer to work alone. At the same time, I strongly value time with my family and friends, to the point where if I don’t have interaction with them for a few days, I get an increasingly distracting – nay, debilitating – sense of loneliness. There is nothing I won’t do for the people closest to me in my life, and I strive to improve their lives each day I live my own. However, my time alone is key for me to rejuvenate myself and put my best face forward for my loved ones.
Realizing this, and recognizing that I had done this before, I went for it. 1, 2, 3, go – the way I walked down Market would have had you thinking I had an entourage to meet.
Now, I did make the rookie mistake of arriving at Bang Bang way, way too early (around 9:45) while the restaurant was still relatively restaurant-esque in its vibes. As it turns out, Penguin wasn’t coming on until around midnight, so I could have easily done something completely different with my evening prior to coming down here, I thought. People sat enjoying their Vegas rolls and Geisha Girl cocktails while I awkwardly ordered a Moscow Mule from the very nice bartender, trying to avoid eye contact with the 40-something-year-old guys who had scouted a potential prospect in me. After standing around for a while and gluing my eyes to my smartphone screen like any good Gen-Y-er, I realized I needed to get out of there for a little. In as reverent of a manner as I could manage, I returned the nursed Mule to his home with Mr. Nice Mustachioed Bartender. I then left to aimlessly wander the streets of the Gaslamp for a couple of hours, stumbling upon a nice little yogurt shop (My Yogurt) and reading one of my Kindle books (Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – some “night-out” reading that is).
When I had returned, a nice gentlemen had struck up conversation with me and continued to do so throughout the night. When Penguin came on, I realized what I had driven down there for. The room got fuller, the people started dancing more. I found myself embodying more of my own true character as I jumped in the air to an electro-funk rendition of “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie. I was there for the music, to support an artist I deeply admire. Several people approached me throughout the night, most of them extremely friendly and even-keel with the exception of the guy whose first words to me were a marriage proposal, and we all danced together. I even got to meet the artist at the end of it all, though I deeply regret not taking a selfie with him. Who am I to call myself a part of this generation?
Overall, take 2 of solo-concerting was a success, and the warm thoughts of the evening happily kept me awake on my drive back home. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, I can whole-heartedly guarantee that from a social perspective, you’ll be fine. No one will judge you, make fun of you, or think you’re “weird”. Just remember the following:
- Have your phone charged and with you at all times. Even if you end up having a terrible time, you’ll have something to avert your eyes to, people to text, Kindle books to pore over, and Instagram pictures to creep on. This also serves a dual purpose as a safety tool, obviously, so make sure someone knows where you’ll be and can reach you if need be.
- Being alone and looking friendly will attract people towards you, but be wary of those you attract. Politely decline drinks from strangers and don’t leave the venue with them unless you’re just walking somewhere else.
- If you’re going to a concert, try to remember the point of going: the music. Don’t force yourself to go to a concert alone unless you’re truly interested in the music, or you’ll end up regretting it and being turned off to the idea of solo-concerting in the future.
- Loosen up and go wild. Dance, yell, do cartwheels, speak in tongues. You’re not there to please anyone and you don’t have to worry about anyone else’s good time except yours. This is perhaps the biggest benefit to solo-concerting and this attitude will get you far in that situation.
If anyone has any stories or other thoughts on solo-concerting (or solo-doing anything else), I invite anyone to share. Let the commenting begin!
Thought of the Day: If you focus on giving others quality, you will naturally attract higher quality people.