Go to a Bar. Alone.

Last night, I wound up going to a bar alone. It’s a spot that I’ve been frequenting, alone, for a few months now. Within the last month, I’ve gotten to a point where people recognize me there. The owners know me by name. Other regulars are excited to see me when I come in.

I went with the expectation to have a couple of beers and head home, but one of my bar-buddies invited me over to another bar with he, his friend, and a couple of girls they had just met. Historically, I would’ve said no. And at first I did. But after my friend’s relentless insisting, I went. It was weird, exciting, and something I wouldn’t have been comfortable doing until recently.

The point to this story is that I moved to this area with no friends nearby. The girl I was with at the time was the only person I knew here and when she and I broke up, I didn’t know anybody. I’ve worked from home for most of the time I’ve lived here and finished my associate’s degree 7 hours away in 2013 with no intentions of going back, so I didn’t have the chance to make friends through work or school like most 23 year olds do. Eventually, despite the fact that I’m not a social person, I was getting lonely and needed some interaction. I decided to go to the cool craft beer bar that I’d visited a handful of times in the last year.

I was terrified to go to a bar alone. I have dealt with social anxiety in the past and didn’t leave my house unless I absolutely had to (for school or work) for a period of about two years. When I was in a relationship, I had a safety net when I left the house. There was someone there who liked me and it didn’t matter what other people thought, cause that person liked me. Without that, I was terrified to do anything I hadn’t done before. But I was more terrified of how dark my thoughts were getting late at night when I hadn’t spoken to a person at all that day, so I forced myself to do it. Months later, I have friends I met at that bar that invite me out to other bars with them like last night, invite me over to their house for Game of Thrones watch-parties, and fires in their back yard. All because I went to a bar alone.

Whether you need more friends or you’re content with the friends you have, go to a bar alone. Strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. At the very least you’ll walk away with a story, whether it’s about how fucking weird that person was or how cool the stranger at the bar was. You might even find yourself with a group of friends in a city where you don’t know anybody.

Go to a Bar. Alone.

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