After reading Daisy’s manifesto about the difficulty of making new friends in your 30s, I felt compelled to pipe up -- because, yes, it is damn hard to do, especially here in San Francisco’s cold-shouldered sister city, Boston. But also, because I haven’t let it stop me from having fun when I go out by myself.
Like many women my age, I’ve watched my girlfriends’ titles change from “Ms.” to “Mrs.” and in some cases, to “Mommy,” leaving my roster of weekend compatriots short a few star players. Getting together with them now requires a calendar and babysitter, and not the sporadic cross-town cab ride it used to, and that’s okay -- they’re worth the effort. It still leaves me with a ton of places to go and things to see in between, though, and rather than revel in paranoia about what people might think about me rolling solo into a party, I’ve realized that life doesn’t always require a flock of females by my side.
If you don’t have balls of steel, going out alone (on the weekend, especially) can feel nerve-wracking at first -- but it can be done, and without a Xanax prescription. Here’s how I’ve done it.
1. First things first: It’s all about your attitude.
Think of it like going on a date with yourself: You’ll probably be nervous, but if you let it be the good, butterflies-in-your-stomach kind of nervous, you’ll feel excited and not panicky. Put on an outfit that makes you feel like a bombshell. Apply an extra coat of mascara. Listen to some music and have a solo dance party (I recommend Beyoncé’s “Get Me Bodied.”) Adapt a bit of a DILLIGAF edge if you must, but check your sass at the door if you feel a continued urge to arch your back and snap your fingers once you’ve arrived at your destination. I also guarantee this shift in energy will show, because when I recently took myself out on a Saturday night, I could practically hear heads turning as I strutted to the subway. Reminding yourself of your own awesomeness is half the battle.
2. Put away your security device(s).
Okay, so I’m joking about the Xanax (seriously, do your thing if that’s what you need), but fiddling with your iPhone and texting everyone you know about how you totally can’t believe you’re out by yourself (!) will make you seem unapproachable and, to be honest, insecure. Or if you’re eating at a bar alone (which, by the way, is a great way to make friends with awesome bartenders who will potentially introduce you to other solo patrons or at least give top off your wine without charging), try to put your book away, Sylvia Plath. You’re not fooling anyone. How can you appreciate your surroundings if you’re preoccupied by the growing number of unanswered “What are you up to?” messages piling up in your outbox? Stop annoying your friends, and start paying attention to what’s in front of you. (And, to be honest, most people are too preoccupied with their own neuroses to give a shit about yours.)
3. Go easy on the imbibing.
A drink can help you loosen up and make you feel more like a decadent rose waiting to be plucked from the vine than a dumpy-ass wallflower. Too much liquid courage, and you run the risk of making some seriously poor decisions, be it some seedy guy with a Bush-era condom in his wallet or worse, with no one to help you get home. Skip the sloppiness (and save your dignity) and limit your intake. Mine is two drinks, max. Or just skip the drinking all together if you’re apt to go overboard. As for other mind-altering substances: I have no personal say in the matter, but think that if I’m going to bond with a stranger in a bathroom stall, I’d rather it be of the making-out-with-a-hot-guy variety.
4. Smile, you pretty thing.
Beat those, “It ain’t so bad, sweetheart!” dicks at their own game and look the part. Stand up straight, relax your shoulders, and plaster a demure grin on your gorgeous mug, even if it feels forced and your hands feel naked without an iPhone to keep them company. You might not be out to make new friends, but no one wants to be around someone who seems utterly fucking miserable. (You can do that at home in your ratty sweatpants and with five of your closest Real Housewives, amiright?)
5. Spark a flame.
And let’s say you’re going to take your chances and mingle. You go, you confident minx. Find a common point of interest -- if you’re at an art gallery, start with a, “What do you think of this piece?”-type question -- that keeps the event glued together. Some people will take the bait; some won’t. And if they don’t, it’s probably not personal -- just keep it moving. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and at least one or two people who will be intrigued by your thoughts on video installations. Or whatever.
6. Repeat as needed
See steps 1 through 5, above.
7. Congratulations: you did it!
Whether you’ve gone out for 30 minutes or three hours, give yourself a pat on the back: it might not have been easy, but you survived. Feel free to return home to those ratty sweatpants, or continue deep into that good night. Not unlike losing your virginity, each time gets easier, whether you’re out in your hometown or traipsing through a foreign city like Sally Jay Gorce in The Dud Avocado. Most importantly, you probably have a renewed appreciation for your own company, which is important -- because if there’s anyone worth taking a chance on, its yourself.