By Maria Colalancia
I was recently in Los Angeles for work. My twelve hour day wrapped up and I was starving. I’d passed a gorgeous Italian restaurant on my walk to the showroom earlier that morning and decided I would go back for a big plate of pasta and an equally big glass of wine. My day had consisted of meeting after meeting, followed by a panel and networking event and my brain felt fried from human interaction. I could not wait to sit down and have a meal by myself and read the news.
When I arrived at the restaurant, I walked in and asked for a table for one. My waitress came over and asked if anyone else would be joining me and with a smile, I said nope, just me. She took my order and I pulled out my iPad and started scrolling through the media to see what had happened in the real world while I was in the fashion world. She returned with my glass of wine and asked if she could sit for a moment and I said sure. She asked: how do you do it? Men come into the restaurant all the time and eat alone, but I rarely see a woman do it. I personally don’t think I could, even if I wanted to. What’s your secret? I laughed and then paused for a moment. I don’t have a secret, I said. I felt the same way you did for a very long time, but when I studied abroad in college I made it a personal goal to step out of my comfort zone and do things alone, and it honestly changed my life.
For the rest of my evening, I spent a lot of time thinking about this interaction. It really made myself examine what it means to be alone and why we are so hesitant to do things by ourselves. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just one of those societal things that we have to find the courage to break through. We perceive being alone as an embarrassment when in reality we should see it as a source of empowerment. We learn something about ourselves when we’re forced to spend time alone. Even more shockingly, we learn something about other people when we’re by ourselves. When you do something by yourself, you are free to act according to your standards-completely exempt from others’ opinions and desires.
So, to the point of the article, if I had to give a single answer to the question: How do I attend an event alone? I figure the best answer is to fake it until you make it. I don’t think there is anyone in the world who could walk into a room completely alone and truly thrive on their first go-round. We all experience the same butterfly sensation and general anxiety, it’s a normal human reaction. The beautiful thing is that no one else has to know that. I think it’s equally important to remember that every single person that you see is probably having the same feelings that you are, but you more than likely wouldn’t know that from looking at them.
I would like to suggest one simple adjustment that will make a world of difference. It’s the night of the event and you are busily getting ready, throwing outfits about the room in a panic. You finally decide on something and you dress yourself before rushing out the door. Here’s where my suggestion comes in. Before you run out the door, take a minute to stand in front of the mirror and look at yourself and repeat the following: I am confident, I can do this, and if I believe something magical will happen-it will. Take a deep breath and repeat as needed. Think of it as getting ready for your mind. If you tell yourself something enough, you’ll believe it, just the same way we believe that it’s scary to attend an event alone.
Walking into an event with an instilled sense of confidence is a contagious thing. Think about your confidence as your customer service voice. You put in on when needed and even though it may not always feel genuine internally, it is perceived as such. This confident energy will quite literally radiate from you, and before you know it you’ll be striking up conversations left and right. Much like riding a bike, the first time is always scary and uncomfortable and hard, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be amazed at the world of opportunity that has suddenly become available to you.
So, moral of the story, push yourself to do something uncomfortable. Take some deep breaths. Repeat those words over and over to yourself. Put on your confidence and remember that everyone else is probably in a similar situation that you are. Hop into the comments, I’d love to hear how you attend an event alone and totally rock it!
Originally published at www.vinazine.com
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