There are few things more terrifying than walking into a party of complete strangers alone. That moment when you look around the room and realise that you don’t recognise a single face. I found myself in that exact situation recently, and it ended up being the highlight of my week.
In our increasingly digital world, it can be easy to forget the excitement that can come with meeting a new person in real life. As a single woman, I’ve slowly become more accustomed to attending events alone, and started to view what used to be an alarming prospect as an opportunity to just enjoy the company of others.
From just one conversation with a stranger last week I was lucky enough to receive: a number of book recommendations, an older man’s interesting and surprising perspective on feminism, an in-depth discussion about education systems and writing advice. A year ago, I would never have flown solo, and as such, I would’ve missed out on a rewarding encounter.
As a by-product of spending a few heart-pounding moments alone at large gatherings I’ve also started to keep an eye out for any lone wolves in a room. I myself have been endlessly grateful when a member of a group has invited me in, so I now try to include others in group situations.
But I know the idea of going it alone can be daunting to say the least. My best tip? Look for someone else standing on their own, or a group that is standing in an open formation. Trying to break into a circle is almost always awkward, but other solo fliers may be grateful for a bit of company, and open groups will see you coming, allowing you to gauge their likely reception.
A polite and cheery, “would you mind if I joined you?” is often all that’s needed, and it allows a group engrossed in a private conversation to politely turn you down if need be. Which can happen. Sometimes you can’t help unwittingly walking in on a deep-and-meaningful.
But, for the small risks there are significant potential gains. You could learn something you didn’t know, or even make a new friend. Or just enjoy the company of a fellow human for a short while, which may well be the greatest reward of all.