You should go to the movies by yourself

On Purpose No Less

You should go see a movie by yourself. No, seriously. And not because everyone you know is busy or you’re embarrassed to ask someone to see Puss in Boots 2 (which you shouldn’t be, by the way, that movie goes hard). You should go to the movies alone on purpose, as your first choice. I’m not saying every time or even most times, but you’re missing out if you haven’t tried it once.

There is something very, very freeing about doing things alone by choice. I first discovered this during lockdown in 2020, when all of a sudden my whole world shrunk to my bedroom and the outdoors, as long as I wasn’t near anyone else. My most exciting activity every day quickly became walking in the woods by my house, the stimulation of seeing a new environment in nature making up for the lack of human interaction just enough to keep me from going fully insane.

At first, being alone so much was the absolute worst, and I’m lucky that it stopped being the worst at some point, because I know for a lot of people it didn’t. But I reached a point where the constant solitude forced me to get to know myself in a way I hadn’t since I was a little kid. Something I found during this time was that I started to enjoy my hobbies way more. I felt more focused, more present, with my basically being imprisoned making me stop and pay attention to the things right next to me.

Everything slowed and I felt more like myself than I had in years, and I was able to enjoy things like music and writing with the same feeling of magic that had accompanied them the first time I encountered them. It was like discovering all of my favorite things again.

The ticket stubs of every movie or show I’ve ever been to. Photo Credit | Marie Sayler

Once restrictions were lifted, going to the movies was an option again. I couldn’t go with anyone or be near anyone, but I could get out of the house and watch a movie not on my laptop, so you’d better believe I leapt at the opportunity. It felt weird at first, to drive to Century Cinema and park, only needing one ticket and free to consult no one but myself on my concession choices, but the same calm focus that I’d found in my bedroom descended once more.

Being by myself let me sink into the moment and be fully present and fully aware of myself in a way that was really fun. I was learning to enjoy my own company again, which in turn made me a more fun person for others to be around. If you’re kind of insufferable, all it takes to realize you need to reel yourself back in is only having yourself to interact with. I learned this with incredible speed. 

Even once the world went back to normal, I kept going to the movies by myself. At first, it feels like everyone is looking at you and wondering why you’re by yourself, but it turns out they’re not. It’s not actually that weird to do things alone, whether it’s seeing a movie or going out for dinner or going to a concert. 

By and large, people tend to be too busy worrying what mean things everyone is thinking about them to be thinking mean things about you. Once you prove it to yourself by trying these things and seeing that no one is pointing and laughing, everything gets a little easier.

You get more comfortable with yourself, and not having someone to go to that one event with is no longer the end of the world. I’ve missed out on countless things because I had no one to go with and I didn’t want to show up alone. I don’t do that anymore, and my life is infinitely better for it. I’ve been to some of the best concerts of my entire, albeit short, life and discovered things I had no idea I even liked because I’m not afraid to be by myself anymore. 

Everyone is different, and this might not be your thing. You might end up hating going to the movies alone, which is totally fair. But you’re never going to know that if you never give it a shot.

So go see a movie. Spend time with yourself and get to know yourself without the lens of how others are interacting with you. You don’t have to like it or feel confident or ever do it again, but give it a try – there’s nothing to lose except the exorbitant price of a movie ticket, so maybe go on a Tuesday for the student discount or something.

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