Last year, as a freshman, I was so focused on receiving good grades that I often prioritized my academic performance over having fun. As a result, one of my goals for this year is to attend more events, rather than simply attending class and sometimes venturing to the library when I want a change of scenery for studying. So far this year, I’ve attended comedian Hasan Minhaj’s “Before the Storm” show at the Michigan Theater, author Viet Thanh Nguyen’s lecture titled “Race, War, and Refugees” and an Eagles concert last week in Detroit. I also purchased a ticket to attend “A Conversation with Michelle Obama” in December.
Attending all these events has led me to notice there are rarely any people who come alone. While I did see a few people who didn’t appear to be with any friends or family, most people came with at least one or two other companions. This makes sense, considering how, nowadays, almost every event seems to be a social one — there are people who are reluctant to even go to the bathroom by themselves. However, I think that there is value in going to events without other people.
I attended Minhaj’s show alone. None of my friends really knew who Minhaj was (a travesty!), so I felt bad asking them to purchase a ticket to see him. While I was initially worried about going alone, I found going by myself ended up being more enjoyable than if I had gone with a friend. I not only got someone to trade tickets with me so he could sit closer to his friends, resulting in me moving from around the 19th row to the fourth, I was also able to truly focus on the show. I didn’t have to worry about whether my friend was also having a good time or feel obligated to interact with another person. I left the show feeling glad I came alone. This led me to attend Nguyen’s lecture alone, and I had a similarly positive experience there.
I went to the Eagles concert with my family, and the experience was far more stressful and complicated than going to the Minhaj event. Before I went to see Minhaj, all I had to do was purchase the ticket, go to the venue and find a seat. For the concert, however, I had to find four seats together in a section everyone was fine sitting in and check with everyone to make sure their schedules were free the day of the concert. The day of the performance, all of us had to wait for each other to finish getting ready, and once we finally got in the car and arrived at the venue, we all had to wait for each other when we ordered food or went to the bathroom. During the performance, I had to listen to my family members try to talk to me when I just wanted to focus on the performance, and there were times when I tried talking to them when they just wanted to focus on the performance.
However, I am still glad I didn’t go to the Eagles concert alone, because I think concerts are much more enjoyable for people when they have companions who aren’t afraid to dance and sing along with them. I probably would not want to attend a sporting event without a friend, either, because cheering alone can feel awkward. In addition, going to a venue far away and late at night can be dangerous for people going alone.
While these are among several valid reasons for not wanting to go to an event alone, feeling as though attending an event alone is socially unacceptable or doomed to end in boredom is not an acceptable reason. As harsh as it may seem, the truth is that being around friends or family can be annoying, and being alone is often the least stressful option. Because I didn’t know any of the other people attending Minhaj’s show or Nguyen’s lecture, I had an anonymity that allowed me to keep mostly to myself and focus solely on the performance.
In short, not every event needs to be a social one, and it’s OK not to be surrounded by a gaggle of friends wherever you go. Sometimes, the best company is no company at all.
Krystal Hur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.