Doing Things Alone: Going Out to Eat

     Most of us hate being alone. I’m not just talking about being single, or not having your close friends living nearby. I mean physically alone. Especially in public. Some of us would not be caught dead eating a meal alone, buying a movie ticket for one or even running some errands solo. Why is that? It may stem from this idea that if we aren’t surrounded by friends or with a loved one, we look pathetic or awkward. We feel less confident when we only have our phones to keep us company on an outing. We value people and put a lot of emphasis on how many people we know, how many friends we have and how many dates we go on. Yes, interacting with others is amazing. I will be the first to admit I love 4-hour-long conversations over a beer or coffee, but I also know what is just as important: having that same kind of time by myself.
    I don’t like being alone. Who really does when social media is flooded with people laughing at a party with their 50 closest friends or sharing a tender moment with one of their many suitors? Every time I log on, I feel like I need to go out and friend-network just to catch up. Realizing recently that I will soon be thrown into a new world with new people, there are going to be times I am going to be alone. I will be at my new job, and I will need to eat at some point, and no one may be there to eat with me. I can have as many panic attacks as I want, but I will still need to go eat. That is scary. That is…something I’ve never had to do before. Why have I never done that before?
    So, I’m making it my personal mission to prove it to myself that doing things alone is not scary and actually necessary to be comfortable in this world where you are the only person that will always be there for you 24/7.
Doing Things Alone: Going Out to Eat
    I needed to eat between getting off work and going to a friend’s swim meet, and I didn’t have enough time to go home. Perfect time to exercise my right to eat alone. Broccoli and cheddar soup sounded like the perfect first meal.
    If I was going into this 100% confident, I should have only brought in my money and keys. But, every “what if” scenario plagued my mind, so my phone and a book came along. I almost brought in my computer but refrained. 100 points to Me.
    Ordering- $7.08. Picking a place to sit- $0. Making it this far without embarrassing myself- priceless.
Once I sat down, I noticed a few other people eating alone also. Imagine that- people have been doing this for forever and probably everyday, and they have lived to tell the tale. I dipped my bread in my soup and took a deep breath. I didn’t feel awkward or judged or self-conscious of sharing my meal partner-less.
    One guy came in, obviously waiting for someone, and sat down at a table. Stood again. Thought about ordering. Walked to the door. Sat at a different table. Got some napkins. Realized he had no food for the napkins. Looked at his phone seven times. Looked around, caught my eye. I smiled, and he turned away real fast. I left shortly after, but I really hope he finally got to use those napkins.
    And that was it. I ate a meal alone and survived. No one came out and pointed and laughed at me. I didn’t spill soup all over myself. I didn’t suffocate from anxiety. I just ate and left.
But DANG, it felt nice.
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2 comments

  1. A refreshing read (: I relish being alone sometimes, and I’ve learned to find power in it in public places. These people don’t know anything about you – and you may never see them ever again! Creating a new image in someone’s eyes is exhilarating, but that feeling of messing up is always there. I can’t help but feel grateful that the anxiety that is there is a shared experience. Thanks for the thought!

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