When Link enters the very first cave of the original “The Legend of Zelda” game, an old man gives him a sword, saying “It’s dangerous to go alone!”

Hot take: it’s time to face the danger. Let’s start doing things alone.

Throughout my seven years as a teenager, I was convinced that it wasn’t socially acceptable to go do things alone. Go out to eat, go to a park, go see a movie or play or concert, travel somewhere — anything that could be turned into a group outing, I would avoid if I couldn’t get someone to do it with me.  

Case in point, I missed out on seeing a lot of movies because I was convinced I shouldn’t go if no one would come with me. I could talk in circles about whether or not this belief was rooted in social anxiety, but either way, with this world view, I was starving myself of experiences I wanted to have.

I thought I should be living exclusively in a multiplayer world. But life’s a single player game.

The moment I realized this, having the occasional flaky friend became a lot less frustrating.

If it’s 10 p.m. and I want to see a movie, what should stop me?  

That’s what happened when I saw “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and it was decidedly an incredible decision to arrive at the theater and slump into a seat all by myself.  

It suddenly became a non-issue what anyone else thought. I didn’t have to think about what I might say to my friends about the movie immediately after, and I didn’t have to worry about having any sort of plans afterward.

I realized I could literally just watch the movie, enjoy myself and go home — blasting my favorite indie music on the way back, complete with a trip through the McDonald’s drive-thru.  What’s better?

This past summer, I saw Paramore live in concert, and they were incredible. When I recounted this story to a friend over the phone, he asked who I went with and I said no one, which was true.  

His response was, “Oh, I’m sorry.”

I laughed. “It’s not an ‘I’m sorry’ kind of thing.”

In fact, I’d prefer to see a concert alone: going alone turns every aspect of a music-filled evening into your own personal experience. Want to show up before the venue doors even open so you can get to the front of the crowd? That’s completely up to you. Would you rather skip the opening act and roll up late? That’s your move. Worried your friends will judge you for getting too excited when your favorite song comes on? Feel free to get as excited as you want to — no one around you is going to care too much. They’re probably too focused on having a great time themselves.

Independence is huge. That’s a big lesson I’ve learned in the past year.

And I’ve had great experiences going to concerts with other people — I’m not saying that you should disown your friends and go exclusively solo to anything and everything. There are heaps of merit and memories up for grabs when you go out with friends, but don’t be afraid to have your own experiences if you want to.

In the “Zelda” games, Link usually needs a sword to safely go it alone — we’re not in the Middle Ages, so you probably don’t. And you shouldn’t feel like you need to.

The most critically acclaimed video games are always the intricate, beautifully-crafted single player adventures. Start living a single player life.

 

gormanwm@miamioh.edu

 

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