Time for a Selfish Selfie
The right squad will be your squad for life, but it can’t hurt to occasionally escape that stereotypical group and have your own adventures.
By Crissonna Tennison, UCLA
There are many situations in life where it’s good to have a human barrier between yourself and the outside world.
Who else is going to protect you from the close-talker with the onion breath and bird on his shoulder, or the slightly hysterical bus passenger who wants to tell you about all of the secrets the government is hiding from us?
The problem with this, of course, is that your human barrier is also shielding you from the quiet talker with the cool shoes or the older lady with the big hair and a lot of opinions.
If you’ve spent any time on Instagram, you know that Taylor Swift has a group of friends she affectionately calls her “squad,” and you should have one too. Like all things Swift-related, her squad comes under harsh scrutiny from people sitting at home wearing old socks and eating grapes for dinner. But while some people might attribute this to jealousy (the same people who use the term “negative Nancy” on Monday mornings), Swift’s squad is often criticized for its homogeneity. Most of its members are white, and all are thin.
This is a common squad problem: It is easy to stick to your own kind.
Why would you talk to that congenial stranger in the corner when you can talk to your friends who you already know are cool? Why not recycle the same inside joke with the same people? You already know they’re funny, so why risk finding new opportunities for humor?
But think about it: How many times have you wanted to reach out to an interesting stranger only to back down because your friends wouldn’t have anything in common with them? How many cool activities have you missed out on because you didn’t have anyone to go with? Having a stalwart group of friends can be great for your emotional and mental health, but relying too much on your crew can hold you back from a variety of different experiences.
A great way to expand your horizons is to go to those cool events you can’t convince your friends to attend. These affairs are where you make different kinds of friends who you have at least one interest in common with. Sometimes you have to strike it out alone to find these people because being in a group makes you less approachable. Even if you don’t meet a new friend, you can still discover a new favorite band, a new idea or a new perspective, all without the filter of your elementary school friend’s sarcastic comments or moody sighs. Here are some activities you could attempt while flying solo.
Jam to Live Music
First of all, you’ll be standing in a crowd of people, so no one will know you are by yourself—unless they are by themselves, in which case they will probably talk to you. In fact a concert is a perfect place to start a conversation with a stranger—you’re both excited about seeing the same band! No worrying about your friend who doesn’t know all the songs, doesn’t understand that the front person is a genius, doesn’t wanna wiggle their way to the front and doesn’t wanna stand around for hours after the show to get a pic with the band.
Go Out to Eat Solo
I mean it. The key to doing this correctly is to wear dark clothing, maybe a hat, and have a thick novel in front of you. Never take your eyes off the page, and turn it occasionally so that people assume you are reading. This is important because it shows that you are dark, brooding and intelligent. Attractive strangers are TOTALLY into that, especially if they are interested in the author or the genre of your book. Unfortunately, so are the ever-present creepers, but you have to kiss a few toads to find success.
Reading is one of the only activities that many people don’t feel guilty interrupting, so this could be a good networking opportunity. Ultimately, though, the best thing about dining out alone is not having anyone do that annoying thing where they don’t buy any food and then want to “have a taste” of your fries (read: Eat all your fries). (It’s worth noting that if you’re truly going for the dark, brooding look, fries probably aren’t the right dish.)
Show Your Heart for Art
There is something to be said for having someone to toss jokes around with when you are standing in a trendy new gallery, staring at a series of photographs documenting the life of a bar of soap.
However, sometimes you want to seriously consume art, which can be difficult if you are with people, for several reasons. First, they might make jokes about art that you are truly connecting with which can be off-putting and distracting. Second, they may be into the art too, but if they have a different pace than you, you might be stuck lingering before that bar of soap longer than you feel you needed to.
Treat Yo’self With Travel
It’s obviously important to be careful when travelling, especially if you are a woman, but there is something special about enjoying a new experience unencumbered.
Wanna hop on a train to Germany even though you initially planned to spend three weeks in Milan? Wanna lie with your face in the sand on a beach in Thailand all week instead of checking out the tourist destinations? Go for it! You don’t have to worry about ruining anyone else’s good time or having your own experience diluted by the desires of others.
Of course, having your squad around isn’t all bad. Travelling in packs can be great for safety, especially if you’re clubbing or running around late at night. And let’s face it, good friends usually have great bullshit meters, especially when assessing your hot new romantic prospect who tries to impress women by arguing that the bar soap photograph series is actually a work of genius with serious sociopolitical implications. By expanding your personal and social horizons, however, you can develop a sense of self that is supported, rather than dominated, by your friendships. Go ahead and plaster pictures with your squad across all of the social media platforms, if you like. But don’t forget to, at least sometimes, take a selfie.