By Caitlin Elftman, Special to OnMilwaukee   Published Sep 12, 2017 at 2:06 PM

If you ever see someone eating alone in a restaurant, or unaccompanied in a movie theater, your first reaction may be to feel sorry for them.

But what if that person you see isn’t lonely or upset. What if they are alone because they want to be alone?

While I am fortunate to have close friends and a devoted husband that I love spending time with, I have been that person dining alone, that girl at a movie theater without a companion. And you know what? I thoroughly enjoy it.

Does that make me unusual? Because there must be something wrong with me if being social with friends and family isn’t always my first instinct? I don’t know when and where the stigma of going out alone first started, and I’m not going to pretend that it can’t sometimes be a vulnerable experience. But more often than not, I find taking yourself out to be an enriching and liberating event.

Here are a few reasons why I (and others close to me) love a solo night on the town.

1. You plan the night you want to have

"Everybody is busy so I might not get the chance if I wait for someone to join me. Also it gives me more flexibility to do what I want on my time." – Sarah Stauder, friend, doctor, always up for a new adventure

I first learned to appreciate a solo night on the town when I was studying abroad in London during my sophomore year of college. I unexpectedly had a free night in the city, and I impulsively decided to go see the longest-running musical in the West End: "Les Miserables." So, now that I made I plan, I next needed a date. But after gauging the availability of my fellow classmates, everyone either had other plans that evening or had no interest in seeing that show.

So, what was I to do? Deny myself the chance to see an incredible performance in one of the most vibrant cities in the world just because no one was available to join me? Of course not. Instead, I enjoyed one of the best nights of my life. I took myself out to dinner, saw a live performance of one of my favorite musicals and took a post-show walk through Covet Garden. It’s an experience I certainly wouldn’t have had if I had been too timid to take myself out for a night out in London.

Now, I can’t stop myself from going to movies, plays and concerts alone.

2. You can focus on the entertainment without distraction

"There’s something about the peace of not having to worry about the other person when dining or exploring new places. You don’t feel rushed, and you can let your mind shut down." – Peggy Olson, friend, colleague, fearless Milwaukee explorer

Do you ever find that if you go to an event or a performance with someone, part of you is focusing on the theatrics, and the other part is worrying if your companion is enjoying themselves?

I can occasionally get caught up in this distraction, especially if I convinced my husband or a friend to come along with me. But if you take yourself to see a performance, you know that you are there because you want to be there. I can be fully engaged in the entertainment in front of me without guilt or hesitation.

3. It’s a great confidence booster

"Quietude with yourself builds confidence, character, greater self-respect and independence." – Paul Akre, friend, salesmen extraordinaire, always willing to try something once

Everyone has different ways of raising their self-esteem. Some may find a nightly beauty routine, a challenging workout or purchasing a new outfit as great ways to build personal confidence. While these are all exceptional ways to bolster self-assurance, enjoying your own company during a night on the town will also give you a great confidence booster.

At first, the thought of going out by yourself may seem intimidating – it certainly was for me all those years ago in London. But once you give it a try, it is often a really empowering occasion. The more you do this, you’ll realize that you truly are delightful company and that the only person you need to have a good time is yourself.

4. It’s a budget-friendly option

"Doing things by yourself is exciting and is a great way to save money. That way, I can keep enjoying special events without feeling guilty about the expense." –Christy Cink, friend, caretaker, knows the value of a dollar and that happiness can be found in solitude

While it’s always fun to splurge on a night on the town, especially if a favorite performer is in town, let’s face it: I have bills to pay. And when you and your significant other share a joint checking account, soon that night on the town can mean a big dent in your monthly budget.

If you don’t want to be solely eating Ramen noodles for the next month, opt for taking just yourself to that special event. You’ll get to experience an incredible show and world-class entertainment without breaking the bank.

5. Even when you’re alone, you’re never really alone

"I love doing basic things alone, because I’m surrounded by other people who like doing what I’m doing, and it feels like I'm taking 'me time' during the day." – friend, business woman, delightful company on her own and in a crowd

One of the best concerts I’ve ever been to was seeing my favorite band, Mumford & Sons, live at the Riverside Theater back in October 2010. Today, Mumford & Sons is one of the most popular musical groups in the world, but seven years ago, with only one studio album released, their following was significantly smaller. But what we lacked in numbers, we made up for in enthusiasm. I’ll never forget being in that theater, surrounded by fellow devout fans and singing along to every word of every song.

When you take yourself on a date and experience events like this, you are surrounding yourself with hundreds of total strangers who share your same tastes and interests. Even if no one walks into the theater with you, you are truly not alone.

With so many exceptional performances constantly taking place in our great Brew City, a first reaction of many may be, "Who should I go to this with?" But I’m daring you to break the mold, treat yourself and learn to enjoy the vibrant arts scene of our city all with the most important date there is: yourself.