If you do one thing next week, make time for yourself. Do something selfish. Allow yourself to indulge in something that makes you connect with you.
One of my favourite things to do is go to the cinema alone. I have been doing it for years and it started by accident. I bought a Cineworld unlimited pass a few years ago, which meant I could go to as many films as I wanted for only €15 a month, so if I went three times I’d be saving money.
This card seemed like a great idea at the time but actually led to a year long guilt-fest where I constantly gave out to myself internally for not going to the cinema enough. So on months that I hadn’t made my film quota, and I had the time, I would spend a whole day at the cinema, watching three or four films back to back. And what I discovered was that I do my best thinking either during a film that is really inspiring me, or just after the credits have rolled and I am letting it sink in.
When I’m walking to the cinema I always feel a little social anxiety, not because I’m alone but because that’s how I feel when advancing towards anywhere there are other people. But when I get there, and I have the ticket in my grasp, I finally relax.
All the tensions and stress and doubts lift from my head which leaves space for clarity and inspiration and acceptance.
I think the reason that solo cinema trips are like a spa day for my mental health is because I have a chronic need to fill every silence I come across. For some reason I have decided that it is not only my duty, but my reason for being on this Earth, to entertain and chatter through any quiet times that come between me and whoever else I am with at the time. I don’t know where this trait came from or have any control over it.
Sometimes it is really useful, like if I’m stuck at a bus stop with someone I don’t know very well, but enough that I can’t ignore them. I can guarantee there will be no painful silences during our awkward journey together.
But it can also be a bad thing, like when I run out of polite conversation and instead tell everyone private information about myself that makes people even more uncomfortable than the awkward silence would.
“I had such a bad panic attack last night cause I watched a documentary about space, space is one of my triggers, so I had to ask Mark to get up in the middle of the night to get my special syrup to calm me down. It’s called Nytol and it helps me sleep,” is not appropriate for my pre-meeting chat with my boss, but has that stopped me? NO.
In the cinema I don’t have to talk to anyone, in fact silence is encouraged. It’s a space where I don’t have a voice in my head telling me to fill the quiet. And if I’m by myself I can be doubley silent.
I bathe in that silence like an tired athlete in a muscle-soak bath.
Last night I bought a last minute late night cinema ticket. I watched Julieta, I laughed and cried and drank a smoothie. I walked back home through the buzzing city, watching Saturday night creep into Saturday evening like ink into water. I bought a packet of potatoes in Tesco cause I hadn’t had dinner and I held them close to me as I weaved through the merry crowds. I listened to the snippets of conversation floating in the hot air. “We have to get you into a taxi, you’re already too drunk…”
I breathed in the city air and breathed out the peace I felt within in. And a small smile found it’s way to my lips as I contemplated the fact that I know how to find a little nugget of inner peace, and it only costs a fiver.