Flying Solo – Liberation or Loserdom?

by Dan on February 15, 2010

I saw the movie Legion alone.  Yes, I admit it.  It wasn’t because I had to see it for a school project due the next day.  And it wasn’t because I had already bought tickets, and my friend cancelled at the last minute. I simply could not find someone to go see it with.

This has happened with a couple events recently.  I went solo to the No Doubt and Judas Priest concerts, and if I’m in a social mood but my friends are staying in, I might go to the bar alone and make friends while I’m there.

What goes through your head when you hear of someone doing things like this?  More to the point, what does it feel like when you imagine yourself doing things like this?

For me, it brings up the image of someone sitting alone in a middle school cafeteria.  If you’re sitting alone during lunch time, it’s a mark of unpopularity.  It can be embarrassing, or even downright humiliating.

A good friend of mine says she loves going to the movies alone.  It’s her time to herself.

My friend DJ Fuji, a dating coach, says he likes going to bars alone, because he can practice meeting women without the distraction of other guys around.

Having a functional reason for being by yourself, or even a personal preference, can lighten the stigma, but what about if you’d actually prefer to have others with you for the event you have in mind?

The vast majority of people will not go to an event if they can’t find a friend to share the activity.  I’m not judging it, but that’s just the way it is.  I doubt I’m the only person who couldn’t find someone else dumb enough to sit through the crap that is Legion, but I am one of the few people that decided to go anyway.

There is subtle benefit on your ego for not doing activities solo.  Anytime you go do something alone that you wanted company for, you are validating that you’ve been, in a sense, rejected.  If you don’t go to the event, the rejection still happened, but you can sweep it under the rug.  If you really want French toast at Denny’s but can’t find a buddy for it, you can just watch TV at home, and it will look to the outside world and to your ego like the meal wasn’t a big deal to you.

But if you actually go to the restaurant alone, you’re making it very clear that you really did want Denny’s, and were incapable of finding someone to join you.  It is a failure, in sense.  It’s not something that you should beat yourself up over, or even feel disappointed about, but it is a time when you clearly did not succeed socially.

I suppose it’s similar to the fear we have in asking for a date someone we just met at the store.  As long as we don’t push for the phone number, we can pretend to ourselves that that person wasn’t really our type.  Once we ask though, it’s clear you’ve been rejected.

That being said, you don’t neutralize the failure by not going out when you can’t find a companion.  Since the damage is done, you might as well go.

Now there is something to be said for not going to something alone if you don’t think you’ll enjoy yourself there.  I don’t go on travel vactions alone, simply because for me, it’s not much fun if there’s no one to share the experience with.  I admire people who can do this, however.

It is important to check in whether your discomfort in doing something alone is because the experience requires company, or simply because you feel ashamed to go alone.  If it’s out of embarrassment, either to your self-judgments, or to others at the event, just let it go.

I can tell you that there have been times when I’ve gone to a bar by myself and people are actually in awe that I was willing to go out alone and socialize without a safety pad of friends to walk back to if a conversation did not go well.  Many people wish they had the confidence to fly solo.

Also, check in to see if you’re comfortable alone in general.  It’s very healthy to be able to enjoy your own company no matter where you are.  A sign of inner peace is feeling complete in yourself, without needing a companion for everything.  Plus, it is definitely nice to know you aren’t dependent on your social circle for your desired activities.  If there’s something you want to do, it’s great to fly with the pack, but try cultivating your power to fly solo, as well.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Stephen February 17, 2010 at 8:34 am

PS, Dan,

This is a bit of a digression from your topic, but after I posted my above comment with a link to some African-American Christian songs, it reminded me of my favourite scene from “Fiddler on the Roof” where they sing, “To Life!”

As you know, Dan, I lived in Russia for two years and I have a half-Russian daughter. That’s one of the reasons why I love “Fiddler on the Roof”, and also because it seems I’m probably part-Jewish on my mother’s side (my mother’s maiden name was a Jewish name), although I’m not yet 100 percent certain of being of partly Jewish ancestry. I’m around 90 percent certain, but not 100 percent. But then, isn’t being “Jewish” more of a SPIRITUAL matter than a genetic one? Jesus said so, he said, “God can turn the STONES into sons of Abraham!”

ANYway, Dan I digress. My main point in this comment, is that I see considerable (and beautiful) similarities between the music of African-American-Christians and the music of many Russian Jews, who were a lot like African-Americans in being a persecuted minority who had to try very hard to proclaim a toast, “TO LIFE!”

In this beautiful scene, the Jews in a Russian village (circa 1880s) sing and dance fraternally with their Russian Christian neighbours. It reminds me A BIT of the relationships between “Black” and “White” Americans in the Old South, where there was FAR LESS RACISM than there was in the North! (Because in America’s Old South, both races lived side by side and knew each other personally, as they did NOT do in the NORTHERN states!) But it also reminds me of what I hope for my half-Russian Christian daughter and her American cousins, some of whom are Jews.

But then the MAIN reason why I love this song and dance so much, is because it symbolises the essential unity of all Mankind as one family. Here ya go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9J4RsUwMh4

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