Everyone has to entertain themselves at some point. For introverts, finding ways to keep ourselves amused is no hard feat because we’re typically energized by your own thoughts. We like to have plans and be in control of things. While many oother introverts I know find comfort snuggling up in their beds with a full queue on Netflix or a good book, I am not always that introverted. Sure, I enjoy staying in and enjoying my own company, but I also love going out.
While dance clubs and other heavily social or uncoordinated activities are still way too far out of my comfort zone, I go a lot of places. And I usually go alone. I know! Possibly the only thing more threatening as an introvert than having to go out and be around people, is having to go out and be surrounded by strangers. Did you just shiver a little? LOL! But I really enjoy going out to restaurants, spoken word nights, the beach, museums, and even some festivals by myself, and thought I’d share some tips and experiences!
“A Mormon, a Muslim, and a Buddhist Walk Into a Bar…
And Then You Walk in Behind Them Requesting a Table for One”
Sitting at the bar at Dame’s Chicken & Waffles in Durham, NC
The dreaded table for one is honestly not that bad. There’s usually the slight pause when the hostess tries to figure out where to put you that won’t take up too much space, but you can avoid that pause by simply asking for a seat at the bar (if there is one). Ok, so you get up to the bar and it’s a little crowded: do you go for the empty seat next to the obnoxiously cute couple sharing an appetizer, the space next to the lone businessman, or try to find an isolated stool away from everyone? There’s really no wrong answer. It all comes down to whether you’re looking for solitude and a quick meal, or stimulation.
Sit next to the couple, and you can eavesdrop. Sit next to the businessman, and you may be able to network and make a new acquaintance. Sit alone, and you may be able to enjoy your meal uninterrupted. Carry something to do to keep you occupied while you wait for service; maybe a book, a fully charged phone, or a tablet. However, be available, gracious, and friendly, especially towards the bartenders and/or servers. If you’re rude, I guarantee everyone in proximity is thinking the same thing: that must be why she’s eating alone!
I can also say that I’ve received some of the best service dining alone, as well as a few perks! I swung into a Bahama Breeze one evening for a drink alone and sat at the bar. The bartender was friendly, and the woman next to me at the bar was very social as well. She asked what I was drinking, and we chatted a bit. She wound up leaving the bar to join the rest of her arriving party, and shortly after I requested my check. “It’s already taken care of, ma’am!” The bartender ensured me. I have no idea if my drink was on the house, or if the kind stranger paid my tab, but I left a generous tip and ran with it. Bonus tip: always tip extremely well anytime, but especially when you’re dining alone! Your bartender may literally be your new BFF lol.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
I had the-ahem-privilege of getting to Atlanta, GA during the evening rush on a rainy day. I’ve heard rumors about the traffic and driving habits, but WOW!
While the likelihood of getting kidnapped from a bar, or getting robbed walking to your car is relatively low depending on where you are, it’s still a good practice to use street smarts. A few things I recommend are carrying back-up cash in your car and on your person, knowing where you are and giving your location to someone, keeping your alcoholic beverage intake in check, and going out with as little stuff as possible to keep track of. Like I said, the likelihood of you needing to actually employ precautions is low. Nevertheless, it’s good to have those backups ready, especially if you’re out alone.
I was on a personal trip to Atlanta by myself, and if you’re familiar with the Hartsfield-Jackson airport, you know: it’s huge. I arrived two hours early for my flight to DC to return my rental car, check-in, and get through security. I had been on a 9-day road trip across the south, and as you can imagine, I had a lot of stuff to keep track of by the end of my journey. This was my first time flying solo, and as a person with no sense of direction, I was afraid of not being able to find my gate and missing my flight. But with common sense and allowing myself enough time, me and my two carry-on items safely arrived to the gate.
I touched down in D.C., got my big suitcase from baggage claim, but then… I had to use the bathroom. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend leaving your luggage unattended in an airport unless you want to be on the 6 o’clock news or pulled into a small room and questioned by federal LEOs. One of the downfalls of traveling alone is not having anyone to watch your stuff, a small thing we take for granted when we’re out with trusted friends or family. So I hustled my backpack, boarding bag, and a 50 pound suitcase to the bathroom with me. I’m happy to say I was able to keep a watchful eye over all of my bags with nothing being lost or stolen, even though my whole body was sore from lugging it all around.
It’s Only Awkward if You Make It Awkward
Riding the ferry between Portsmouth, VA and Norfolk, VA
Seriously. Go out. Have fun. Be safe. Meet new people or enjoy your own company. Don’t be afraid to laugh or ashamed to be trying new things on your own. Go to a bar down the street, or take a vacation somewhere new. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you have to be a homebody 24/7. You can be reserved without being completely reclusive.
There’s a whole world for you to conquer: I say go for it.