Ticket for One – Barbra Streisand

The Many Faces of Barbra Streisand

I’ve never been to a concert for a major recording artist. I’ve been to plenty of operas, classical music concerts, and musicals, but seeing Barbra Streisand on May 3rd at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn was my first concert of its kind.

I’ve been in love with Barbra’s voice since I was a child, watching “Hello Dolly!” on repeat with my siblings. I memorized every line of the movie, and it’s my go-to film whenever I need some encouragement or inspiration. To me, Dolly Levi epitomized a strong, resourceful woman who could thrive in any environment because she had the resiliency necessary to shape her own life. She treated everyone exactly the same – whether they were a waiter, a trash collector, or a millionaire, and she was always 100% authentic to herself.

Although Barbra Streisand is a separate person from her role as Dolly Levi, she, too, is a woman who marches to the beat of her own drum. With that inspiration, I garnered the courage to buy myself a ticket for one to see her “last” concert.

In my brief experience with dating myself and doing activities solo, I’m amazed at how difficult the world makes it for the lone ranger. Even buying the ticket online was a hassle, since many vendors only sell tickets in pairs.

Once I finally found a good seat for a reasonable price a few days before the concert, I started to share my excitement with my friends and family:

“Who are you going with?” was always the first question everyone asked.

“Just myself…” I would reply, trying to hide my immediate defensiveness.

“Oh –” they would say, trying to comprehend what I was saying, inevitably following up with a hesitant, “Well, good for you,” or “Well, that’s great.”

The day of the concert came, and I noticed the familiar mixed feelings of excitement and nervousness that I last felt when I went ice skating alone. I was so nervous that I almost forgot my ticket, walked the wrong way to the subway, and checked the concert details at least ten thousand times.

At the concert
Sarah at the concert with her new shirt

I finally arrived at the Barclay’s Center, feeling a bit more at home amid the thousands of Barbra fans lined up to watch her perform. I sensed a kindred connection with the diverse group of people who slowly made their way through the metal detectors. I laughed to myself as I purchased a T-shirt with the “many faces” of Barbra on it, found my seat, and paused to take a selfie for Instagram.

I was feeling pretty happy and secure on my date with myself, when I met a mother and daughter who were seated next to me. They chatted about their shared love for “Hello Dolly!” and previous experiences seeing Barbra.

Then the mother turned to me and said, “Are you here by yourself?”

“Yep!” I said, beaming with pride and strength.

“Aww,” she replied in a pitying tone, “Well, you can sing all of the hits with us. These experiences are better shared.”

“…Thanks,” I replied, quietly, managing to muster a kind smile before turning away.

My cheeks felt hot, and I sank into my chair as my mind repeated her words. Was I missing something by not sharing this experience? Would it really be better if someone was with me? Did I have it all wrong?

Before I had too much time to doubt myself, the show was starting. I was delightfully distracted by commotion on the lower level as Bill and Hillary Clinton arrived, and as soon as Barbra came out, I became really emotional. I was surprised at my own tears filling my eyes, seemingly mismatched with the broad smile across my face.

I quickly realized that by being alone, I was experiencing the concert in a more intimate way than I could have otherwise. It felt like each song she sang was a personal message, and when it finally came time for the song “People,” Barbra herself followed it by saying:

“When I first heard this song, I though the writers got it wrong. Aren’t the people who don’t need people the luckiest people in the world!?” she exclaimed, exaggerating her thick, Brooklyn accent.

She understood me.

As I made my way home after the concert, I felt so happy, content, and strong. This was something that I had always wanted to do, and if I would have waited around for someone to go with me, I would have completely missed out on the experience. Much like the character of Dolly Levi, I was finding the resiliency necessary to shape my own life — one that’s 100% authentic to myself.

This is my life. This is your life. Create your own experience. Don’t wait to live.


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