Have you ever wanted to go do something or go somewhere, but because you don’t have someone to go explore that new thing or place with…you just don’t?
If you’ve ever had this uncomfortable feeling, you’re not alone. Especially if you’re in your 20s. The need for social acceptance can really be such a killjoy sometimes, preventing us from partaking in new experiences simply because we don’t want to be labeled as “strange” or different, compared to our friends. The time to change this notion is now, and what’s a better way than to experiment with going to the bar by yourself?
Yes, you read that right. As terrifying as it may sound (trust me, I’ll be right there trying this experiment with you), learning how to separate ourselves from the packs of people we were constantly surrounded by in college will help us 20somethings immensely with growing into our sense of self. If you’re like me and alcohol isn’t really your thing, that’s okay too — going to the bar alone definitely does not require drinking. It’s all about gaining confidence and stepping into your adult power as you simultaneously step into a night out by yourself.
No, it’s not weird to go to the bar alone.
As we begin the mental preparation that comes with going out alone, there’s one myth that needs to be debunked regarding going to the bar by yourself…and that is the idea that it’s “weird.” Sure, in movies we may see a lot of men going to the bar by themselves, or maybe an older woman stopping for a solo drink at a hotel bar while on a trip. However, you don’t have to be older, a man, or on vacation to justify venturing into a bar by yourself. You don’t have to justify it at all, really (just make sure you’re over 21 first, besties), because going out by yourself isn’t weird unless you choose to make it so.
In fact, it’s really something that can be seen as intentional “me-time.” Josie*, 23, a social media assistant for a publishing imprint in New York, recently started stopping in at a local bar near her apartment at the end of her work week to unwind. “Since I’ve been mostly working from home these past few months it’s super nice to insert myself into a social setting by going to the bar,” Josie tells Her Campus. “Sometimes I’ll grab a drink, other times I won’t — it’s just fun to go sit alone and read or plan out my weekend. Usually, I’m pretty burnt out by the end of each work week, and maybe that means I don’t want to interact with a ton of strangers. But it’s just fun to be around other people while I relax, since working remotely doesn’t give me a lot of face-to-face time with other, real humans.”
Like any other new activity, if you’re going to walk into a bar feeling apprehensive and absolutely certain that your experience is going to be negative or bad, then that’s probably the way it’s going to go. Instead, try getting yourself excited about going on a solo adventure and having some much-needed alone time. No one will judge you, so try your best to not repeatedly compare yourself to others while attempting to go out and have some fun. After all, we’re all just out here trying to live our best lives.
So, what do you do at the bar by yourself?
Onto our next order of business: what sort of things does a young 20something do while alone at the bar?
Even before leaving for the bar, it’s important to figure out what you’re hoping to get out of the adventure. Do you want limited social interaction so you can just rest and relax? Or are you feeling up to chatting with other customers? If your answer is more in line with the first option, be sure to choose a quieter bar scene. A hotel bar is a great place to start, since people there tend to filter in and out and often keep to themselves. You can also bring a book or headphones with you wherever you go, just to give yourself something to do as you sit and enjoy the ambiance.
If you are looking to meet potential new friends, make it known by positioning yourself appropriately — stand or sit towards the middle of the space, so people can approach and interact with you more easily. After this, it’s just a matter of striking up conversations with the people around you. If this seems intimidating at first, start by talking with your bartender! Not only do bartenders have great stories to share from their time on the job, but they’re also typically able to provide good recommendations for food, drinks, and/or other fun things to do in your town or city.
Reap The benefits of a solo night out.
As long as we mix things up and are still partaking in activities with friends and family, going to a bar by ourselves can become something that acts as a reminder of our individual value.
Hannah, 22, a recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University, explains to Her Campus how going to a bar alone challenged her in the very best of ways. “Exploring a bar scene on my own definitely helped me learn how to better enjoy my own company,” Hannah shares. “It also helped me meet some new friends in San Francisco since I just recently moved here for work.”
Learning how to feel more confident and less socially anxious while also relaxing and/or meeting new friends if you so choose? Sign me up! Even if you start small, just by walking into a bar alone and waiting to be joined by your roommates or friends…you’re getting somewhere. Enjoy the new adventure and each candid moment and conversation that comes with it. Cheers!