Last November, Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin was scheduled to perform at Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. The show sold-out, but I was desperate to score a ticket. By a stroke of luck, a few days before the concert, a woman messaged me on Facebook about giving away her ticket. I took the chance, sent her $30 on Venmo and received the ticket in my email.
Even after attaining a ticket, I almost put it to waste. She only sold me one ticket, and I’d never been to a concert alone before, much less taken the train that far without a group at night. I thought it’d be embarrassing to go alone, and maybe I wouldn’t even have a good time.
The day of the show, I decided I wasn’t rich enough to feel okay with throwing $30 out the window. I took the brown line North for what felt like an hour, shakily gave the will call box office the name on the ticket, walked into the venue and sat down to the stage’s left.
The venue was unique since it was in an auditorium-like room you’d see in high school. Everyone was sitting down and patiently waiting. Usually at shows, I enjoy bopping around and singing the lyrics, but this wasn’t anything like that. The crowd sat in silent admiration during almost the entirety of Jacklin’s performance.
I sat next to a man that I assume was around 40 or so. He was talking with a male friend about their wives before the show. I wondered what Jacklin’s painful lyrics meant to them, what it reminded them of… their pasts? ex-girlfriends? Whatever the case, I was happy they were there; they seemed to appreciate her just as much as me. I even heard the man whisper to his friend, “it’s just good to even hear her voice,” and I knew exactly what he meant.
Jacklin’s voice gave me chills multiple times throughout the show, and I knew while I was sitting there that it was a special experience. Tears came to my eyes as she delivered the aching lyrics of “Body,” a song about struggling with body confidence after an unhealthy relationship, and “Good Guy,” where she asks a man to lie and say he loves her, even if it’s not true, and he’ll still be a good guy.
I found that there was something really interesting about this in-between I’m in, where I surprisingly love the solitude of riding the L for an hour each way and having an intimate experience bonding with myself, but at the same time, feeling like I’m supposed to be sharing it with someone else. But frankly, I don’t really care what I’m supposed to be doing; I didn’t miss the company at all. It actually felt like I was meant to go alone, and I’m glad that I did.
I realized I’m grateful for this period in my life where I can do things I personally enjoy, without the pressure of anyone else depending on me or worrying about whether or not they are having a good time too. I know that it won’t always be that way as I grow up, so I want to embrace it while I have the chance.
Ever since the concert, I’ve felt a shift in perspective. I’m not afraid to do things alone, because I know I can enjoy my own company just as well as someone else’s.
Don’t be afraid to welcome your independence with open arms.
Do the thing, whatever the thing is, even if it’s on your own. Sometimes bonding with yourself doing the things you love is more valuable than dragging just any old person along with you.