Before yesterday I had never been to the movies alone. Crazy, right? Somewhere between my social anxiety and me being somewhat of an extrovert, going to the movies alone never sounded appealing. It always seemed like a lonely experience, but I was growing tired of missing movies because I had no one to go with. After talking to some friends about it, I decided to get over myself and buy a ticket to see “Selma”. With yesterday being MLK Day, I convinced myself that going alone would be a statement of Dr. King’s work and I needed to do something because I didn’t have the day off. As corny and desperate as that may sound, it made enough sense for me to build up my courage.
Honestly, the act of purchasing the ticket was the most terrifying part. Movie theaters let you pre-select your seats now so my anxiety went off when I realized that most of the seats are together. I couldn’t help but wonder what couple I would force to sit up front because I took one of the last good seats. Nonetheless, I chose a seat and hoped that no one would sit next to me. Once I made it into the theater my wish was granted and I only had to share an armrest with one stranger, not two. Very soon my anxiety crept up again along with another dilemma: how was I supposed to take off my coat and hold my snacks? It seems minor but I for a full minute I had a small panic attack and was very tempted to ask my neighbor for help. I wouldn’t allow myself to do that. I had to figure out this whole solo-movie-date thing, so I found a way to balance my snack tray on the empty seat and wiggled out of my coat.
If you’ve seen “Selma” you know that the first 10 minutes are among the most intense. After those 10 minutes it felt like I made a mistake. My popcorn and drink were long gone and I didn’t have anyone to grab onto or give a solidarity look to. It was just me, my feelings, and a bunch of strangers. It wasn’t until the guy sitting next to me sniffled and wiped his face that I realized that we were all in solidarity while watching the movie. Throughout the movie my urge to talk to someone else or connect with another person faded. It reminded me of the calm that fills me when I drive home with the radio off after a long day. I didn’t need to talk to anyone or be around anyone. I was content and comfortable with my feelings. With no cell phone or companion to distract me, I was able to take in every part of the movie.
By the time the movie ended I joined everyone in the theater with a big round of applause and even sat through some of the credits. After watching “Selma” I felt humbled. I was humbled because people were willing to give up their lives for others and future generations. I was humbled because I really processed how significant it was that my grandma proudly displayed her “I Voted” and “Juror” stickers on her bedroom closet door. In 1963 she was 34 years old, about the same age as Dr. King. Coming from the South I’m sure she watched the protests on television or heard about them on the radio. I was grateful to be able to process these feelings alone.
Overall, I am happy I went to “Selma” by myself. I’m not sure my experience would have been the same if I saw it with others or waited for it to go to Redbox. Going to the movies alone forces you to put down your phone and concentrate on one thing. It eliminates distractions and renews confidence that we don’t always need companionship. I had no clue what I was missing. This was the first time, but definitely won’t be the last time I go to the movies alone.
Have you seen Selma? I’d love to discuss it with you!