Minus a "plus one"? Make it a party of one

In every single girl’s life, she will, on occasion, find herself at a very important crossroads. She makes plans with a friend to go to dinner at the latest great restaurant in town and the friend backs out at the last minute. She wants to see the sappy chick flick that just hit theaters, most likely starring Ashton Kutcher (because hey, what sappy chick flick these days doesn’t star Ashton Kutcher?) and none of her BFF’s have a free afternoon. Or she has a week off work when everyone else she knows is up to their eyeballs in deadlines and has no one to join her on a carpe diem road trip. She has two choices when one of these incidents occur: A) Cancel her plans, thereby missing the great restaurant, movie or date with the open road or B) Unpack her independence, go by herself and ROCK IT.

Now the obvious arguments to choosing option B are: “I’ll look desperate, like I have no friends,” or “I’ll feel stupid,” or “I won’t have anyone to talk to.” The easy option, the path of least resistance, is option A. But if you want to truly embrace your singleness, get comfortable with your solidarity and learn to enjoy your own company, stop hiding behind excuses and take yourself out on the town without fear or hesitation. At the end of the day, if you can’t learn to enjoy your own company, how can you expect anyone else (i.e. Prince Charming) to?

Google the phrase “dining alone” and your first page of results are all articles about “How to handle the traumatic experience of dining alone” and “How to make it through a dinner by yourself.” Why is hanging out by ourselves viewed as a bad, or even “traumatic” thing? There’s something very wonderful and liberating about spending time in your own company. Think about it – you’re not on a date and you don’t have anyone (except yourself!) to impress. You can order the items on the menu you really wanna order instead of sticking to the safe salad, you can have extra butter on your popcorn and prop your feet on the seat in front of you at the movies, or you can have the time of your life dancing like a fool at that little bar on the beach where everybody doesn’t know your name and you can be whoever it is you want to be in that moment. Instead of investing time and energy into someone else, you’re investing it into yourself – and there’s absolutely no better return in life than an investment in your own happiness.

One of the best vacations I ever experienced was one that my mom and I took a few years ago to Wilmington, North Carolina. As fate would have it, my mom accidentally left most of her luggage at home and didn’t feel comfortable flitting all over town in the one pair of gym shorts or the one bathing suit that did manage to make it on the trip. So she opted to spend most of her time at the beach house while I explored the town by myself. And you know what? It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Essentially on vacation alone, I was forced to step outside my comfort zone and talk to people I might not ordinarily talk to because I didn’t have anyone there as a safety net. Walls came down, strangers became friends and a new sense of independence was born in me – one that has stayed with me ever since. Because let’s face it – if you can spend an hour, or a day, or a week in the company of yourself and have the time of your life, there ain’t nothin’ you can’t do.

Nashvillian Debbie Lee agrees. “I’ve been to the movies alone before. It’s actually not only liberating, but just downright peaceful!” she says. “No worries about your date seeing you cry or laugh too hard. No worrying about getting too close or not close enough or sharing arm rests or popcorn!”

Here are a few rules to abide by when hitting the town as a party of one:

DO go big or go home. Don’t slink into the cheap diner on the corner or the really bad movie that no one else is at because you don’t want anyone to see you alone. You’re defeating the purpose, which is to flaunt your singleness, celebrate your independence – not keep it under wraps. Go to the restaurant you really want to go to. (You know, the new hot spot in town that everybody’s talking about.) Go with boldness and confidence, not with worry of who might see you there alone. Make reservations…don’t take reservations.

DON’T hide behind a cell phone, a laptop, or a really big pair of sunglasses. Don’t pretend to be mesmerized by your blackberry to avoid making eye contact with the cute guy at the table beside you, for fear of what he’ll think of you being alone. Look him in the eye and dare him to NOT find you fabulous. The truth is, a woman without defenses and roadblocks is often much more appealing to a man than a woman buried beneath a gaggle of girlfriends.

DO look cute.
Just because you’re a party of one doesn’t mean you can’t dress to impress. Make the effort for yourself. Wear that little black dress you’ve been saving for a special occasion. What better excuse to break out that new pair of stilettos than for the lady that’s marching to the beat of her own drummer? Besides, the guy flying solo two seats down from you will also notice – and a party of one might quickly be upgraded to a party of two.

DON’T sit at the table, at the bar or in the theater with a panic stricken, deer in headlights look on your face. Relax. Breathe. This is FUN. You are your own best friend…and who doesn’t love an evening out on the town with their best friend?

DO talk to strangers. A stranger is only a “hello” away from becoming a friend. The very best way to meet new people and have new adventures is by stepping outside your comfort zone and opening yourself up to the unknown. There are fascinating stories all around you just waiting to be told – so stop playing it so safe and go walk on the edge for a little while. The view’s much better from up there.

At the end of the day, single ladies, you’re not always going to have a “plus one” to accompany you through life – and that’s okay. A “perfectly lonely” lady like yourself doesn’t need a partner-in-crime to enjoy everything that flying solo through life has to offer. Remember – not every table you choose is going to be a poker game already in progress, with people on both sides of you. Sometimes you’re going to find that a single deck of cards and a game of Solitaire is the hand you’ve been dealt. Are you going to let that stop you from winning the game?



One Response to “ Minus a "plus one"? Make it a party of one ”

  1. Kala
    January 15, 2015

    Hello Mandy, thank you so much for your writing, and your inspiration. I have actually gotten a bit comfortable going places by myself and learned a few helpful tips. I have recently had an idea on my heart to share with you. You reach out to so many women and give so much encouragement. I was thinking how wonderful it would be if some of these women were able to get together for small vacations. While I have gotten comfortable going out to eat and to movies solo, other trips are bit more cautionary. As a single woman, there are some travel venues I would prefer to attend with someone or a group. I have heard of Christian cruises. I think it would be wonderful if single women were able to get together and meet, have fellowship among shared interests, hiking, travel, exploring, culture, dancing. There is so many beautiful things life has to offer, though some of them can be a little scary solo. And we don’t require a relationship to experience these, but we have this wonderful network of women who are seeking to live life as God intended. Be blessed.

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Something wonderful is on the horizon
Turn Toward the Sun CoverLife doesn’t always look the way we want it to look. In Mandy’s upcoming book, Turn Toward the Sun: Releasing What If and Embracing What Is, you’ll find encouragement to live in the moment, sit with your experiences, and trust God with the unknown.
Preorder from Baker Book House for 40% off and free shipping!*
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*US shipping only