The first time I ever went to the cinema on my own was in 2012. Les Mis was showing and, at the time, I didn’t have any friends who wanted to see it with me. I’m sure someone would have if I asked around enough but I decided that I really wanted to see it and I couldn’t be bothered waiting for someone to put up their hand to go with me, so I went on my own.
The worst part isn’t actually sitting in a cinema alone, it’s the lining up beforehand. You stand there waiting to buy your ticket, all the while wondering what the people around you are thinking about you. Have you been stood up? Do you not have any friends? Are you a bit odd?
Luckily, all that has been solved now since booking ahead is normal and you can dart to the counter to collect your ticket before scurrying into the cinema, not to be seen by anyone you ‘s might know. Even still, it’s pretty sad that we feel so self-conscious about being on our own that we feel the need to act like we’re running from the law while we’re alone.
I cannot stress enough how much being alone is not a crime.
Fast-forward to 2018 and most of the movies I see in the cinema (which is at least 2 a month), are experienced on my own. It started out as something I would do only when other friends didn’t want to go but in 2015 when I took a gap year after uni, it became the only way I would ever see any films at all – my schedule was so irregular and all over the place that I was often seeing movies in the middle of the day when it was very unlikely that my friends were available. If I had waited for them, I would have never seen anything that I wanted to see. And now, as much as I like my friends and family (and do still see movies with them occasionally), I actually prefer going on my own and I recommend it to everyone.
Many people like to argue that the whole reason to go to the cinema is to talk about the movie afterward or that going to the cinema on a Saturday night is strictly a date-night activity, so why would you want to show up on your own … ever? Well, in my time as a solo movie-goer, I’ve discovered three huge reasons why going solo is almost always better than going with other people.
- You can see what you want. Of course, there is the bonus of actually getting to see movies rather than trying to make plans for months and then, when you and your friends are finally all free, finding that the movie is no longer showing. You also get to watch whatever you want. Feel like going to see a kids movie but know your friends wouldn’t be on board? Who cares – you can go on your own! There’s no trying to please everyone when it’s just you.
- You do not have to talk at all. Some people love talking through movies as well as before and after them. If you’re one of those people, that’s great but I am not your biggest fan. We all pay good money to be in a cinema, so I don’t like being distracted from the film I’ve come to see – I like to know I’ve got my money’s worth. Afterward, I really dislike talking about the movie until a good two hours later. I like to really think about what I’ve watched and digest it all before I come to any conclusion. When you go on your own you really get a chance to do that without hearing any other differing opinions that might sway you from what you really think. There were many movies I saw as a teenager that my friends did not like when I really did – I was so often swayed by their opinions and I think that’s a shame. I do like to think I’m not so easily persuaded now but I just try to avoid being persuaded altogether.
- You get to listen to other people. This might seem a little contradictory to the last point but over the last few months, I have really enjoyed listening to other people talk as they leave the cinema. I still often go to the movies in the middle of the weekday that I have off and the audience at that time is largely elderly – they have the greatest thoughts on movies and sometimes funny observations that I would never have considered. Their thoughts on Lady Bird were very different to mine, that’s for sure and when I eavesdropped on the way out of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society my heart was warmed by the things they had to say. I love hearing what they think and because I don’t know them personally, I don’t have the problem of being persuaded by what they think.
I think it’s time to get over the fear of being alone in general – not just when it comes to going to the cinema – one of the best nights I ever had out was taking myself out for dinner in Edinburgh. Of course, I was alone for the whole 6 weeks I travelled in the UK but that dinner was particularly memorable – maybe it was just because I had been living off bread rolls and the occasional packet of Hula Hoops and this was the first real meal I had had in weeks, but I really do suspect it had something to do with eating out on my own and not giving two figs if anyone thought I was a loner.
Always depending on other people to want to spend time with you to see a movie or eat at a new restaurant or just take a walk in the park is a sure-fire way to make sure you miss out on a few things you’d really like to do. Get comfortable with being alone and go out and make the most of it.