I can’t really say how many times I’ve been asked this because I generally try to block it out. It’s not that this question causes me any embarrassment, or pain. I just experience frustration, but not from the person asking the question. I’m frustrated with our society and how we’ve been socialized.
We grow up to assume a lot of things based on the factors of our upbringing. I grew up in a place where water rarely flowed in the rivers and you were lucky to spot one star at night. Some people grow up very conservative/liberal or of a certain faith. We tend to pick up on the habits we are surrounded by, as an anthropologist this isn’t a foreign concept to me.
I’m irked because we live in an age of so-called independence, yet so much of our daily lives revolve around needing others. This blog is even written with the intent that someone, anyone, will read it. But why do we deprive ourselves of experiences because we do not have a partner to share it with?
A friend of mine had badgered me for weeks to buy a ticket for his team’s fundraiser dinner. When I finally caved he asked me who I was going with. No one, I said. He was puzzled. Wait, you’re going alone? He was genuinely baffled.
Maybe going to events alone makes me a loner, but I look back and think of all the things I haven’t, or wouldn’t, have participated in if I had to rely on someone to go with me.
Every year I go to concerts alone. Why? Because it’s insane for me to go around ASKING people to join me for something they may not even like or be able to attend just so I can go. Why does my attendance rely on someone else? Sure, I’m not entirely heartbroken when I run in to people at Outside Lands every year, but there’s a voice in my head that says, “Please don’t let them think I have to latch on to them.”
More recently I was planning my trip to Europe and I fully intended to go alone. People didn’t believe me. Why would I TRAVEL alone? Well, for starters it is dumb to go to dangerous locations alone, but I was going to places just as safe as my backyard. But more importantly I have seen relationships (be it romantic or purely friendly) crash and burn over long trips. One person wants to go to the museums today while the other person wants to go sailing, causing long arguments and one person missing out on what they wanted to do (and they don’t DARE split up so both can be happy).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m overjoyed to do some things with other people (and slightly ecstatic that one of my rarely seen friends may join me at Outside Lands), and I am biased toward spending more time with some than others, but I wish we weren’t in the mindset of doing things in groups. I wish my peers would start branching out, going alone, doing things they would normally miss out on. We’ve all looked back and said we wished we would have gone somewhere, and we need to stop letting that happen.