Upon learning that the film was showing at the Vue cinema in Leeds I excitedly called, text and sent Facebook messages to all (five) of my anime loving friends and invited them to come and experience Miyazaki’s swan song with me. The response was less than thrilling. ‘I’m working’, ‘I’ve already got plans for that night’, etc; I got all these usual excuses from every one of them. Disappointed, I cancelled my plans and resigned to spend the evening sat in front of my computer looking up less than savoury things. Then, less than an hour before the film was due to start I decided to go anyway; friends or not, after all; I had been dying to see it since I heard about its release.
At the cinema I approached the box office and nervously asked for ONE ticket for The Wind Rises. I felt quite dirty asking for only one, almost as if I had been caught going into a seedy adult shop, because going to the cinema is generally seen as a social activity; something you do with friends. Going alone is often regarded as being unsociable or that if you go alone you’re ‘sad’ or ‘a loner’. But I did go see the film by myself and I can honestly say it’s one of the best cinema experiences I’ve ever had! I didn’t have to plan or work around what was best for everyone else: I just decided to go on a whim, I didn’t have to wait for people to get their tickets and food, there was no messing about with who was going to sit where: I got the prized aisle seat! There was nobody there to distract me with their incessant running commentary and nobody’s annoying laughing or eating loudly, I could immerse myself completely in the experience.
After that I went to see 3 more films that week alone; all on my own. I didn’t feel ashamed that other people probably thought I didn’t have friends, I sort of pitied them for having to put that time in to organise it properly, but most of all I felt truly liberated by the fact that I only had to look out for me.
Whatever it is you have planned; don’t hold back on doing it just because you’re the only one who wants to do it. I’ve been on my dream holiday to Iceland by myself, been to countless gigs and festivals because my friends didn’t like the bands who were playing, in fact the cinema was the last thing to do on my own due to the stigma attached to it. Some of my greatest experiences I’ve done solo because I would never have done them if I had waited for people who were never going to turn up.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t do things with friends; we are social creatures, it’s one of the cornerstones that makes us who we are but if you find yourself in a quandary about whether to do something usually reserved for more than one person say to yourself: ‘f**k it, I’ll get this party started by myself!’ If you don’t, you run the risk of missing out on some of the greatest things life has to offer.