This is the number of experiences people skip because of fear of being alone

Sometimes our friends just don’t share our interests. That’s why every Saturday night is populated with a sizable portion of miserable people pretending karaoke isn’t dumb.

According to a new study conducted by Flash Pack, Americans in their 20s miss out on a collective 26 experiences a year out of fear of having to do them alone.

For people in their 30s, the median is closer to 34. Social stigmas appear to be surging the statistic in either case.

“It’s understandable, of course, that doing things with friends is considered the norm,” Dr. Sheri Jacobson, founder of Harley Therapy, told Flash Pack in response to the new poll. “Traditionally, we have lived, worked and cooperated in groups and, in evolutionary terms, we’re programmed to require others to ensure our survival.”

Of all the 1,000 men and women surveyed, 74% said that they lacked the confidence to pursue personal interests and hobbies by themselves. Thirty-nine percent said they would only consider going it alone if somehow they knew that they would meet others that shared their interest as a result.

Debunking FOMO

The respondents involved in the new study were of various income brackets and regions within the US. Invariably, the older the individual the more circumstances precluded a robust social life. More than half of this demographic only saw their closest friend five times or less in the past year and 23% haven’t seen them at all in that same time span.

Conflicting schedules accounted for 44% of these outcomes but 59% habitually canceled plans in favor of staying at home instead. In fairness sometimes this alone time was spent doing chores or catching up on work-related tasks, but the end result was the same: those left with the short ends of the stick wound up forgoing on activities that they enjoy.

Fifty-seven percent of the adults that routinely did so expressed anxiety about being judged by others should they decide to participate in them alone. There is certainly a stigma attached to individualism or self-partnership as Emma Watson recently coined it.

In many ways social media continues to preserve our pinched appraisal of social optics. From afar alone time and loneliness might look very similar but perspective provides the truest demarcation.

For instance, 86% of the respondents who make a point to treat themselves to a night out now and again reported that they thoroughly enjoy doing so. Nearly a third of those who felt this way were in committed relationships during the study period. The tendency proved to be beneficial for both parties. Instead of having to pretend to be into karoke in service of quality time, couples, friends and family members began to normalize solo outings.

“When our friends are busy, there’s a tendency to just cancel plans altogether, even if it’s something we’ve been looking forward to. But this means we just miss out on things we actually want to do. We want people to feel confident about doing things on their own.” Flash Pack co-founder Lee Thompson explained in a press release.

JOMO (Joy of missing out) is an underrated acronym; it takes the pejorative out of alone time. Again and again science has proven the many cognitive benefits associated with solitude.