Have you ever been eating dinner with your family or significant other and looked around the room just taking in the atmosphere and caught a glance of the person eating alone? Was it a mature aged man still dressed in work day slacks, likely grabbing a bite on his way home, perhaps his wife and kids out of town? Or was it a younger kid, sporting his favorite Giant’s baseball cap and Warrior’s basketball jersey; eyes attached simultaneously to his smart phone and the playoff game on the big screen so had anyone actually been sitting opposite him, he likely would have never noticed. Or maybe, you saw a not quite middle aged woman, sitting alone fidgeting with her menu, a closed note book across from her, clearly uncomfortable, constantly glancing at her iPhone, careful not to make eye contact with you? Yeah. I’ve seen them all as well. I’ve even been that woman too.

Going out to eat on your own can be scary. Especially for a woman, certainly more so if it is something you are not used to doing. I gave two examples of men and just one woman because in my weekly observations, I’d say that’s about the ratio 2:1 for men vs. women eating alone. I wonder if this is because men are more comfortable eating alone. Or do you suppose they are just hungrier than their counter parts? Whatever the reason, I am going to take a minute to encourage more women to overcome the fear of feasting for one. What you learn about yourself and others in the process, just might surprise you.

Luckily I was able to find someone’s  random picture that showed you what I meant.

I know, I know, there are a million and one excuses not to eat alone. Too embarrassed. Too tired. Too nervous. Too worried about others opinions. The list is endless. For some days, the reasoning is likely legit. You definitely don’t want to take part in something as emotionally challenging as sitting alone in a crowd if it’s something you aren’t comfortable with already, not to mention ill prepared for. But for now, let’s focus on what could be worse. You could stay home and keep picking winners of Chopped on Food Network, drinking wine, talking to the contestants on TV as if they could hear you, while simultaneously sending videos of how cute your cat is to your BFF, begging for her permission to let you post them to social media. Yeah. Seriously. I’ve heard some people do that.

So. Commit to stepping outside your oversized sweats and undersized comfort zone and start somewhere. Might I suggest the local Coffee Shop? Here you will see a lot more table for one attendees. It’s more socially acceptable to sit and sip while perusing through your phone, a magazine or even catching up on a little blogging. Stay a full hour if you can. Take a minute though; look up once in a while. Feel the stomach jitters creep in just a little at your new surroundings. Smile and take pride in your small step.

Next, let’s do lunch. Or rather, you do lunch, on your own. Not in the same day. Unless I suppose you feel like your confidence is boosting and you aren’t about to mess with a winning streak. Then go for it. Depending on the restaurant you pick, you will likely find yourself surrounded by busy working folk. They likely won’t have much leisure time to ridicule your audacity to dine solo. Again, try to stay for at least an hour. And do the same thing as before. Observe yourself and how you feel, possibly wanting to throw up at your bundled nerves rather than eat. Observe others. Take note of people doing what you are doing. It helps to find similarities in our human experiences. Or misery just loves company. It’s one of those I’m sure.

Finally, and you may need to build up the bravery for this one over time; go to dinner by yourself. At night time. In the dark. Alone. Doesn’t it sound like a blast? Ah, come on, you can do it. You will pile on the excuses at first. Your braless comfort zone and Netflix will call loudly for you to stay home and finally get caught up on Scandal. Break through the internal BS and go for it.

Be ready when the hostess asks, “Just One?” Smile the big “bless her heart” grin as you curse her loud voiced question that suddenly brings dozens of eyes in the restaurant to your attention, all desperately waiting to hear your answer. ‘Yes please,” you say at a slight whisper, “table for one.”

Observe again. As the butterflies settle and you become more comfortable in your surroundings, take a big deep breath. You got this. You can do it. Watch those around you. I mean not stage five stalking. Just enough to quietly notice families out celebrating a child’s birthday, first date glances and giggles from the table next to you, even work friendships struck up around a table full of notebook ideas. You get to actually see life in living color. You get to experience it even from a new vantage point; from someone else’s perspective. You learn a lot about love by watching others give it. You learn a lot about the value of time, by watching others spend it. And you learn a lot about yourself, by feeling the accomplishment of courage to step just beyond comfort.

 

I wrote this encouraging women, since I am one, and most of my readers are. But the same message certainly applies to men. Go on. You can do it. I believe in you. And your cat does too.

Keep Living In Spirit and On Purpose.