Shelley Bridgeman 's Opinion

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: How do you feel about going solo?

18 comments
Are you happy to fly solo at parties and events?Photo / Thinkstock
Are you happy to fly solo at parties and events?Photo / Thinkstock

'Tis the season for Christmas parties and end-of-year cocktail functions.

I have the utmost admiration for those who turn up to such occasions without a companion. I'm not fond of attending functions on my own - mainly because I'm not very good at it.

Mingling is not my forte. I'll never forget going to some corporate networking event in the 90s and being confronted by a noisy room full of small clusters of men. I wandered slowly around, first looking for someone I knew, then any friendly face and finally just anyone who'd notice me. I decided I'd leave if I'd completed a circuit of the room without being acknowledged by a solitary person. As it turned out I encountered a colleague and was saved from feeling like a social pariah.

With that experience firmly fixed in my mind I make a point now of keeping an eye open for people newly arrived or lurking at the edges of a group hoping to be acknowledged. I try to include anyone who seems to be at a bit of a loss. Feeling invisible while in full view of dozens of people is a most disconcerting experience.

I was reminded of the internal courage required to attend functions alone when we had our class drinks for school parents in Newmarket the other week. I arrived with my husband and although I didn't see him all evening (I was too busy gas-bagging with the other mums) I think just knowing there's someone there who will ultimately stop me looking like a Nelly-no-friends makes me relax and socialise up a storm. Perversely it's only if he wasn't there that I'd need him. Go figure.

But I noted a couple of women arrive without a partner and as they entered the back area of the bar I saw them get their game-face on a split second ahead of arriving. Maybe it was because I knew them but I perceived a subtle straightening of the spine and an arranging of the face in preparation for being cheerful, lively and interesting. Once they were happily ensconced in a convivial group, their relief was palpable.

I've travelled alone, lived alone, skied alone, dined in restaurants alone and I love going to the movies on my own but the prospect of attending a cocktail function alone fills me with dread. I wasn't looking forward to flying solo at my new-ish tennis club's Christmas party because I knew few members. I'd have chickened out had I not promised the captain of my interclub team I'd go. I parked the car, checked my lipstick, straightened my frock, put my game-face on and boldly headed inside. As it happened I arrived at exactly the same time as my friend (and captain). I let out a figurative sigh of relief and clung to her like a limpet all night.

Crisis averted.

Does turning up to events solo bother you? Have you any hideous experience you wish to share? Do you any have tips for mingling more easily?

Shelley Bridgeman

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 22 Sep 2014 20:46:17 Processing Time: 1488ms