Without a doubt, one of the hardest obstacles to face as an older single woman is the perceived stigma that is still attached to being alone and this is never more apparent than when you attend an event solo. The good news is that no one is paying as much attention to your “singleness” as you think. They are all too busy dealing with their own issues. Weddings, family reunions, class reunions, office parties, birthday parties, etc. can all be a source of anxiety if you allow it. The fact is, many people who have happy relationships choose to attend these events solo for various reasons, so you will likely not be the only person there who is alone. Also, with the costs of weddings skyrocketing, more and more couples are not including “and guest” on their invitations, so the pressure to find a date is already minimized for these events. As for class reunions, many people choose to go without their spouse so that they can catch up with old friends without feeling that they are neglecting their significant other who may not have attended the same school and most likely does not know most of the people attending.
As an introvert, I find attending social events to be draining whether I am alone or with someone. Interacting with a large group of people taxes me mentally, but I realize that it is important if I want to stay connected with people and show that I care. Here are a few things that I do to help me get through 3 or 4 hours of socializing.
Focus on the Occasion
Life is short and we need to take every opportunity to share in the joys and celebrations that people we care about are having.
Meet Up with Attendees You Already Know
Chances are good that someone else you know is also attending the event and may also be alone. Make a plan to go together or arrive at the same time.
Nothing boosts confidence as much as facing the world looking our best.
Never underestimate the value of small talk. It not only relieves our own anxiety, but probably helps someone else feel more at ease, as well. A smile and friendly comment are usually all that is needed to get conversation going. Keep it brief and move on if the conversation isn’t going anywhere.
Learn How to Dance
You don’t need to wow the crowd, but knowing a few steps is a useful skill and takes one less worry off your brain in case someone asks you onto the floor. If you truly don’t want to dance, ever, for any reason, be ready with a polite reply in case someone asks, because they will. The more humorous the reason, the better.
Don’t be the First to Leave, or the Last
Stay long enough to be polite, but don’t feel obligated to hang in to the end. Most wedding receptions and reunions last far longer than anyone who is not a social butterfly is comfortable with. It is not impolite to leave a few minutes after the cake cutting unless you are the host, mother of the bride, or some other key player in the event.