Laura Schmidt is a writer from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and she currently attends University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, pursuing a degree in English and Journalism-Strategic Communications. She has previously written for the University of Minnesota Women's Center Blog about social justice and women's rights. Her plays and other creative works have been performed across Iowa and Minnesota; you can find out more about LASchmidt.net.
I had not given much thought to the idea of going out alone until I was chatting with some friends over dinner a few nights ago.
“I love going to movies alone,” one of my friends smiled. “I don’t let my fiancé come with me. He always wants to talk or cuddle or something. I just want to enjoy the movie.”
I laughed it off, and initially thought this was rather strange; I’d never gone to a movie alone and had never seriously considered doing so. But what I originally thought as slightly weird left me pondering.
I suddenly thought of the countless times I had decided against going to a movie on a certain day simply because none of my friends could go or were simply not interested in that movie. Instead, I would wait for the movie to release online or on DVD, and I would watch it at home by myself.
If I watched the movie by myself at home, why could I not assemble the courage to go and see the movie alone in a theatre? And, furthermore, if I had gone with someone to the movie, it is not like I could have talked to them throughout the film anyway. I think the reason that I, and likely others, hesitate to attend movies alone is because people believe that going out or watching a movie alone – or doing anything alone – signifies a sense of loneliness. You might believe you could be perceived as a loser. Those are perfectly rational feelings to have – that’s how I used to feel.
However, there’s a new study coming out that suggests something encouraging; if a person fights through their fears of being perceived as a “loser” by participating in an activity on their own, they will actually enjoy themselves. The full study isn’t out yet, but a few articles have been written about it.
There is a certain stigma doing things alone, especially with movies. And I think it is something we should reconsider. Just because you do things alone does not mean you are alone. It just means you are comfortable enough to define your own terms. And this does not have to be confined to movies: go to that art museum you’ve been meaning to explore, get a meal at a new restaurant, or just explore. It could end up being enjoyable.
Finding a way to have fun by myself is quickly becoming a very important subject to me, as I will soon be departing to England in September to study at the University of East Anglia. I know no one there. And while that seems scary now, I don’t think it has to be. I’m planning to explore the historic town of Norwich, England, by myself on a few days. And I know that I will get to know some amazing people over there, but it is comforting to know that I can also enjoy myself, by myself.
Maybe going to the movies alone isn’t for everyone, but I don’t think that the fear of being judged as a “loser” is an adequate reason to avoid it. Movies are not, in essence, a social activity. In a few weeks, I have to book an airplane ticket to England – for one person. I see no reason why I can’t start buying movie tickets for just one person as well.