When one makes the decision to pack up one’s entire life and move to the other side of the world, completely alone, one inevitably gets called both brave, and downright insane. About nine months ago, I did just this. With no place to stay, a job I knew nothing about secured four days before leaving, and no friendship ‘group’ in London, I packed two bags and boarded a plane. Yes, it was insane. People wondered how I could do this without a boyfriend in tow, or a kindly aunt to stay with on the other side. Quite simply - I’m an only child, I’m a strong, independent woman, and I’m used to making my own way in the world. I don’t need to plan my life around other people, because I’ve found that in doing so, far too many opportunities are missed. If I waited around for someone to accompany me on all of my travels, I would never go on any.
And so, here in London, time passed, and I did many things: I went to concerts, I went to bars, I went on trains. Sometimes I went with friends, sometimes I went with the intention of meeting up with friends - and sometimes I went completely alone. And all of these options were perfectly fine. It was fine to travel to Birmingham alone to see Amii; it was fine to go on a weekend away in Brighton with Catherine; it was fine to roadtrip to Liverpool with my mom; it was fine to get a 6am train to Manchester to visit Megan. Even better were the concert escapes - King Charles with Amii; Kodaline with Sinead; Taylor Swift with my mom. But do you know what was also perfectly fine? Getting the early train to Cambridge and wandering around all day by myself. Making the trek to Milton Keynes to sing my lungs out to Arlandria at a Foo Fighters gig, alone. I never felt strange. If I wanted to do something, why couldn’t I do it alone? Why should I wait for someone else to do it with me? My friends don’t expect me to go to the gym with them, so why would I expect them to go to the Foo Fighters with me? Does anyone look at you strangely when you’re at the gym alone? No. So why would I get stared at if I was at a Fall Out Boy show solo?
And so out of the 19 concerts I have attended this year, 5 have been completely alone. When I purchased tickets for a recent show, I was quite surprised when a note on the website told me that tickets may only be available in sets of two or more. What if I wanted to go alone? Luckily, I was able to purchase a single ticket for this specific show, and I put this detail out of my mind.
And so November arrived, and with it, Imagine Dragons at the O2. I hit StubHub for a resale, only to find out that almost all tickets (save for extremely expensive ones, at three times the average price) were only available in sets of two or four. Why should I be penalised for not having a plus one? Naturally, I took to Twitter for a little rant, and was advised by a follower to simply purchase two tickets and offer one to a friend in exchange for drinks. And I’m 100% sure this follower was trying to be friendly and helpful, but unfortunately, things aren’t always that easy. I do not have a friend to take with me. I have absolutely no choice but to go alone, and the fact that I am prohibited from buying a single ticket makes it impossible to do so. Why is it that I have to miss out on events I wish to attend, due to the fact that I am ‘single’? And by ‘single’, I do not mean that I don’t have a boyfriend. I mean that I am one person, doing my own thing in the world, and I will always be so. I am certain I am not the only person in the world who is dong life alone.
And what does such a restriction say to young human beings, who are constantly being told to ‘you do’, and ‘live your best life’? Websites are full of inspirational crap like how being in a relationship shouldn’t define you, you can be just as happy single, be content with who you are as a person, blah. blah, blah. Sure, I’d be really content if I could just attend this concert! In 2015, why are social norms like this still being thrust at us from every angle? How is not being able to buy a single ticket for an event any better than banning certain people from an event, on any other basis? This tells me that by ‘not having friends’ or ‘not having a boyfriend’, I don’t deserve the perks that are in place for people who follow norms perfectly. Is it not bad enough that when living in a studio flat, I was charged extra tax for ‘being single’, as it was ‘assumed by the council’ that studio or one bedroom accommodation would be shared by a couple? Is it not bad enough that the cost of everyday living assumes that all human beings are cohabitating with a romantic partner by their early twenties? And yes, most people are doing so, but aren't we past the stage of having to conform to what 'most' people are doing? If that’s what you’re doing, that’s absolutely fantastic for you - so you continue to do you, and I’ll continue to not do me. I’ll begin to believe that maybe I am strange and wrong and failing at life, all because I’m being told I can’t go to a concert alone. Fine then, you just stop going to gym alone. Don’t dare go for a jog by yourself. You know what, you should probably get all 17 of your housemates to go with you on the Northern Line tomorrow morning, because how could you do anything alone?
And before you tell me that I am blowing all things out of proportion, and I’m talking about resale tickets here, and obviously the couple is trying to sell because they both can’t go… why do ticket resale websites allow sellers to specify how many tickets they want to sell, but don’t allow buyers to choose the number to buy? I’ll tell you why: because no one wants to sell one ticket in a pair and risk not being able to sell the other, because ‘no one goes to concerts alone’. But that’s rubbish. That’s the norms of society making you believe that no one should go to concerts alone.
What’s next, then? Train tickets only available in sets of two? Having to prove spousal accompaniment before I can get on an aeroplane? Why should people not be able to do the things they want to do, by themselves? Because I do have friends, I have a number of wonderful, amazing friends, and some of them will travel halfway across the country to go to concerts with me, and others will book spontaneous weekends away with me, or make food with me at 2am, or say just the words I need to hear, when I need to hear them. And I'm confident enough in those friendships - and in myself - to not have to spend every single moment of my life in company. Because, you know what, not everyone conforms to the norms of society. Not everyone is going to stick themselves in little boxes on the hillside, produce 2.4 children, adopt a labrador and spend their Saturdays adding a new coat of paint to their white picket fences. I mean no offence. I know that one day I too will be painting a white picket fence, even if I'm doing it alone, and switching the kids for kittens. I’m not saying I want to spend my entire life isolated, I’m simply saying that I want to go sing along to ‘Radioactive’ tomorrow night, and I want to do it alone. Simple.