Would you be willing to see a movie in a theater by yourself? How you answer this question can gauge how self-reliant you are and how willing you are to take social risks. At its basic core, seeing a movie in a theater is one of the easiest things you can do. But at the same time, seeing a movie by yourself is rather difficult to do for the first time.
The difficulty that lies in seeing a movie by yourself is just the beginning though. Many other fun, amazing activities seem to be harder when faced alone. This applies to travel, concerts and eating at a restaurant. So if you answered no to the question, how willing would you be to do any of these other things alone? Could you be missing out on doing some amazing things?
Doing Things Alone
I asked myself the movie question several years ago. A movie had just come out that I desperately wanted to see. However, I couldn’t find anyone willing to go. Initially I saw the problem resolving itself in one of two ways: I would wait until I could find someone to go with or wait until it came out on DVD.
Either solution to the problem would have required waiting. I’m usually very patient, but I thought it was ridiculous to put off something as simple as seeing a movie. The third solution of seeing it by myself became clear. But I would have to face down some doubts.
For some reason, movie-going is seen as a group activity. I thought I might be considered weird for going alone. Other thoughts started to emerge. Would I be considered a loser or would people stare at me and wonder what is wrong with me? I felt as if everyone’s eyes would be on me.
As it turns out, nothing would be further from the truth. I went to the movie theater and saw the movie I wanted with no trouble. The problems I associated with seeing a movie by myself were all in my head.
The Trouble with Groups
If I had a choice in the matter, I would have gone to this movie with another person. In fact, doing things with other people is almost always the better option. However, waiting to do something you want solely because you don’t want to do it alone causes a few problems.
When you have to do things with other people, you’re giving up control. Since you’re entirely dependent on if there is someone else, you’re limiting your alternatives. While it is nice to have other people to go with, going by yourself should always be an option. This is especially true with bigger things in life. Finding someone to go on that dream vacation you’ve always wanted might be tough.
There are also times when doing something with other people just doesn’t seem appealing. Alone time is great for the mind and soul and there isn’t a rule saying you need to spend that time in any particular place. Some of the best alone time I’ve had was at a rock climbing facility, another place some people wouldn’t go to alone.
What’s Stopping You?
The problem people have with doing things alone is that there appears to be social pressures against it. If a particular activity is generally seen as a “group thing”, you don’t want to seem abnormal by going against common consensus. But most of this social pressure is just illusory.
I don’t want to say that social pressure doesn’t exist. It does. However, I think most of what we call social pressure is really just internal fear. All this goes away though once you actually start doing it. I was uncomfortable seeing a movie alone at first, but it went away. And despite a few odd glances, no one seemed to care.
However, I realize social pressure dies down a lot in the comfort of a dark movie theater. So what would happen if you went alone to a nightclub where everyone is constantly looking at everyone else? Well, I have a friend who actually does that. He goes to nightclubs alone often so he can meet people while he is there. And he does. From the stories he tells me, he is quite successful too.
Social Pressure Shouldn’t Stop You
For the most part, I don’t have a problem doing things alone. So far I’ve gone to a concert, eaten at a restaurant, traveled and saw a movie alone. I must admit that I haven’t gone to a nightclub alone to meet people though. I almost did one night, but social pressure and fear overwhelmed me so I backed out at the last minute.
You shouldn’t let fear or social pressure stop you though. In fact, I think doing some of these things by yourself is a good challenge to see how self-reliant and independent you really can be. Once you open up to the option of doing things alone, you’ll have more freedom and control of decisions in your own life.
photo credit: Nick-K (Nikos Koutoulas)