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How doing things alone made me stop caring what people think

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ASU chapter.

The first time I ever went to the movies alone was in December 2019. I was in my freshman year of college, and my apartment was about five minutes from the town AMC. I knew it was a movie none of my other friends would want to go see, and I knew I couldn’t miss seeing it in theaters. Slowly, I walked through the entrance and up to the counter. I ordered a bag of cookie dough bites and a large fountain drink. I grabbed my snacks and walked to my assigned theater, constantly looking around to see if anyone was watching me walk alone. The seat I chose was dead center, all the way in the last row. As I took my seat and the theater filled up, my anxiety settled. Nobody was looking at me. Nobody cared. 

And this is the story of how Frozen 2 changed my life.

Well, not really. But I suppose, in a way, you could make that argument. That was the first movie I ever saw alone. Really, the first time I did anything in public alone. From then on, going to the movies alone became a tradition for me. With a bag of cookie dough bites and a large Coke, I could conquer the world. Whenever I’m stressed or sad about something, or even just simply bored, I buy myself a movie ticket and head to the theater. I stopped walking through the building meekly, I stopped looking around to see if anyone was watching me. I don’t care anymore. Movie theaters are my time for myself.

Within this tradition, I discovered something that, before 2019, I would have never thought possible: most people don’t care about you.

Obviously, this isn’t entirely true. But the vast majority of strangers you encounter throughout your lifetime are not worried about you or what you’re doing. Going to the movies alone became going to restaurants alone, going to concerts alone, walking around the mall alone, and exploring a city alone. I’ve learned to enjoy my own company —- sometimes more than the company of others.

I was deeply insecure in high school. I’m a Libra; people-pleasing is in my blood. But more than wanting people to like me, I never wanted anyone to dislike me. The idea that someone might find me “weird” — even a stranger —terrified me. I cared what people thought about me. Deeply. Someone’s perception of me could make or break my day. Nothing I ever did was for me. Instead, it was so everyone around me would like me. It was exhausting.

Don’t get me wrong, I do get looked at sometimes when I’m out alone. However, this only happens rarely and it doesn’t matter to me anymore. In fact, doing things alone has made me feel much more powerful. Many times, when I tell people about my movie-going tradition or I meet new friends at a concert, they tell me how cool they think it is that I’m able to do things by myself. Their anxiety or fear of being perceived keeps them from experiencing life to the fullest.

Doing things alone means I get to make my own schedule and have my own experiences. I don’t have to worry about where someone else wants to sit or what time someone else wants to go. Every choice I make is completely up to me. It’s opened up so many things for me to do and see and enjoy. And I’ve become a much more confident person because of it.

My name is Madison Haynie, I am a returning Sophomore to Arizona State University! As a child I spent endless free time writing songs and short stories to fulfill my sense of imagination. I learned my love of acting then, after years of high school theater, I began pursuing photography my senior year. I decided to pursue a degree in Journalism in order to combine my love of writing and my love of photography. In my free time, I still enjoy acting on the side.