I WENT TO A CONCERT ALONE. I’m sharing this in part as a pat on the back for myself and also to encourage anyone else who might feel similarly to me to try the same. It was amazing and I can’t recommend it enough.
My concert “background”:
I went to my first concert when I was in elementary school (Backstreet Boys, obviously) and I just remember feeling incredibly overwhelmed by the crowd and music. I have exactly two memories from it and both involve me thinking, “I want to go home.” After that, I had no desire to try again. I had obviously been in crowds and other spaces with loud music and I always hated the experience, so no concerts for me. I did go to a High School Musical (lol) “concert” when I was in high school, but we were in a suite with a bunch of my friends and it was a much more low-key experience. Mike and I went to see Leon Bridges at Radio City and, again, it wasn’t your typical concert and even then, I was like, love Leon Bridges, but I don’t think I want to go to a concert again.
Between my dislike of crowds and loud music, the pandemic and (ugh) the reality of violence in the United States, I really was thinking I’d never even attempt a concert again.
Until Harry Styles. The minute I found out about his concert in NYC, I started wondering if I should try to go. Mike and I were talking about it since it would fall around my birthday. I really wanted to go but also was just wholly anxious even considering it. I love Harry Styles though and I couldn’t stop thinking about how I wanted to go!!
Last week, Mike and I made a last minute decision to do a trial run of Jack and me not being together. (The TLDR is: he’s sleeping through the night, he can drink milk from a straw, and we started to wean….) We have a couple of trips coming up quickly so we figured it was better to try it when the pressure was low first before we had to commit to doing it for “real.” I knew I’d be missing him so what did I decide to do? Go to the Harry Styles concert alone as a good distraction.
Why I think going alone is the way to go for my anxiety:
On my drive home, I was just beaming with excitement that I had done it! I went and didn’t have a panic attack! And even better… I had a fantastic time! I loved it so much and I was beyond glad I had gone. And I’m really glad I went alone, even. It was the perfect way for me to experience the concert. Going alone allowed me to eliminate some of my big anxiety points.
– I could bail at any point without disappointing anyone. This is a mix of my issues, people pleasing and my anxiety! I hate the idea of committing to something and then changing my mind and letting someone down. By going alone, I gave myself the option of bailing at any point. Before buying tickets, I could change my mind. Before driving into the city, I could change my mind. Before walking into the venue, I could change my mind. I could get to my seat and panic and change my mind. Not surprisingly, by removing the pressure of feeling committed, I felt so much lighter and more at ease about saying yes. I kept reminding myself that I could leave at any point and that gave me the confidence to at least try.
– I didn’t have to worry about what someone else. I don’t know if this is something everyone feels or maybe it’s just because I’m a control-freak-people-pleasing-first-child-Virgo… but when I’m in a small group, I am constantly worried about how everyone else is enjoying their time. Are you happy? Are you liking the music? Are you comfortable? Do these seats disappoint you? Are you hungry or thirsty or want to go stand in line for a shirt? I could just worry about me and making sure that I was having a good time. I also tend to get wrapped up in like getting left behind or separated from a group or even one person.
Additional things that helped:
Now going alone didn’t completely erase my anxiety. Of course, there were plenty of things to keep my heart racing and thoughts spiraling 🤣 It’s just that going alone eliminated some “low hanging fruit,” so to speak. Here are other things I did to help:
– Driving myself and pre-paying for parking. I weighed all my options for getting to and from the city. I am totally comfortable driving in the city and bringing my own car, again, would allow me to arrive and leave on my own schedule. I didn’t have to worry about rushing to a train or trying to snag an Uber immediately following a giant event in NYC. I pre-paid for a parking spot with SpotHero, which guarantees a spot, right by Madison Square Garden. I listened to a great podcast on the drive in to just keep me distracted (remember, I was still not 100% sure I’d be able to get myself into the stadium at this point….). I drove right up to the garage and had the car secured and parked and didn’t have to worry about that at all.
– Finding a ticket in row 1. So this was easier since I only needed one ticket, but I prioritized finding a seat in the first row of a section. I ended up doing a bit of research on Madison Square Garden and landed on getting a seat in a lounge section in the 300s, which was perfect. It wasn’t loud, I could sit the entire time, and the area wasn’t overwhelmed with people at all. It was ideal for me.
– Wearing something comfortable. Another easy thing, but since I went alone, I really didn’t care what I wore. I just wanted to feel comfortable and not need to worry about uncomfortable shoes or bras or anything that would stress me out.
– Not sharing ahead of time. I told a couple of close girlfriends to kind of gauge their reaction (a, “haha do you think this is weird or a bad idea?”) and Mike, obviously. Otherwise, I just kept my mouth shut about it because, again, I gave myself permission to back out at any point. I didn’t have to explain it to anyone if I decided to stay or go home.
If you’ve gotten to the end of this and you’re thinking this is a lot of overthinking for a concert…. yes, you’re right.
And really, just be glad you don’t understand this because being an anxious person is exhausting. I’ve just been so disappointed as I’ve gotten older thinking about all the things my anxiety has made me miss out on. So many events and fun things that I wish I could just get over my issues and enjoy. I’ve worked on a lot of my anxiety issues, but the biggest thing I’ve realized is that I don’t have to do things the way they may be typically done. I can make accommodations so I can enjoy things in my own way.
Because I was overthinking this whole situation, I felt like I was able to really pinpoint some of the fears that I could control. (Naturally, there’s plenty that I can’t!) I had the best, best time because I was able to check enough of my fears at the door. At one point I found myself singing aloud (!!!) and felt so free and was like, “Ooooh, okay I get why people like concerts! I think I like this!” And then at the very end as one of my favorite songs was being performed, I got emotional thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I’m here… I am so glad I didn’t miss this.”