As I have been traveling recently, I stopped and thought about eating alone. There are many solo travelers out there, but sometimes you feel like you are the only one. Especially when you are in a restaurant eating alone, which must mean you are the only one eating alone in the world! While this is highly untrue, sometimes I can jump to conclusions but that’s the creative writer in me.
In today’s society it seems like eating alone is often regarded as weird or odd. You know me just trying to be socially acceptable—yeah right. For me eating alone was awkward as people would stare and I felt like they were judging me for eating alone. How can you get over the fear of eating alone?
Step One: Embrace it.
The more confident you act and embrace the fact that you will eat alone whether traveling or at home will not only make you feel better, but will change how others view you. Fake it till you make it. The more you fake that you are confident and comfortable eating alone the sooner you actually will be, and your body language will reflect it to others.
Step Two: Have a Purpose.
By this I mean don’t sit and stare into people’s souls at other tables. Instead bring a book, catch up on your social media, read emails, etc. I personally like to take the time to go through my pictures—if I am traveling— and see how they turned out. My Instagram doesn’t post itself—@liveconfidentlyeveryday — a little self promo.
Step Three: Take in the Culture.
Since gluten-free travel is a big part of my life and my blog, I like to take in the sights and sounds of the restaurant. Where they happy to accommodate my gluten-intolerance? How is the menu set up? Is there a gluten-free section on the menu or symbols marking gluten-free items? And then after I leave, did I get sick from eating at the restaurant.
Going through these thoughts and interactions allows me to be able to write a blog article that will help someone who is gluten-free know whether or not they should dine there.
Step Four: Realizing You’re Not the Only One.
Just remember you are not the only one who eats alone. While it may feel like it, often I can find one other person in the restaurant eating alone as well. They typically have a book or newspaper and are just enjoying their alone time.
On the other hand, I have also witnessed two people sitting at a table, not talking, heads bent, submerged in their phones—in their own world. So truly, they are basically eating alone by not engaging in conversation.
Step Five: Understand the Factor of Anxiety
Anxiety is something I believe everyone has dealt with in their own way. Whether test anxiety, social anxiety, eating anxiety, the list goes on. Now I am not a doctor or psychologist, but most people I have run into have experienced some sort of anxiety whether big or small. I am not here to tell you how to overcome anxiety as I know everyone deals with it in their own way. For me just continuously doing different things by myself helped break my anxiety of eating alone or just doing things alone in general.
New movie just comes out and you can’t find anyone to go with, treat yourself and go by yourself. Going to a movie by yourself can be a good first step to doing things by yourself. It is dark and everyone is focused on something else. This was a great jumping point for myself in terms of doing things by myself. But don’t get me wrong, I still have moments when my anxiety will get to me and I just take deep breaths and do my best to embrace it.
As an introvert I definitely enjoy spending time alone and I am very satisfied in my own company. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy meals with others. It just means I am able to thrive on my own. Traveling as an introvert was a big step for me, but it has really broken me out of my box.
Eating alone can be a time of self-reflecting and it only becomes super awkward if you let it. Have confidence or fake it till you make it because eating alone is not weird, we need to get rid of that misconception. I know I am not the only one who gets asked if I am picking up an order when I enter a restaurant alone.