Table for ONE, please?
You probably read the title of this blog post and are absolutely confounded. OR! Maybe, you’re intrigued and have already cracked the mystery. Well friends, what I’m implying is dining alone. To some, the idea of dining alone is a foreign concept mostly because people are so used to enjoying the company of others. Rightfully so though, food is so much better when it’s shared in good company, laughter and overall good vibes! However, have you ever taken the time to bask in the company of YOU?!
Personally, I LOVE dining alone. I believe it’s important to learn to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the world and really learn to value your time with yourself. As a wife, mother and therapist, I constantly speak on the art of establishing balance between others and self. Truthfully, it gets hard to make time for myself so I don’t get to dine alone as often anymore but it is definitely a feat of my methods of self-care. Thus, I am very intentional about making sure I accomplish this seemingly little but MAJOR treat for ME.
I recently celebrated my 30th birthday and part of my day entailed me taking myself out for lunch at my favorite Thai restaurant. I sat, I ate, I caught up on a book I’ve been meaning to finish up and I journaled. It was SO CATHARTIC. I felt so full—and not just with food! Haha I was filled with gratitude to be able to love on me in this way.
By now, you’re probably still thinking, “Nah sis, that’s cute but how?!?” haha Good question! Let me offer you some tips on how to go about dining in your lonesome.
TIP #1: Start small.
For most of you, the idea of dining alone might sound overwhelming in and of itself and you might feel defeated before you even give yourself room to try. Here’s a simple fix—start small. Maybe you’re not ready to dine in an actual restaurant with tons of people. Understandable. Maybe start by going to the library and reading alone and then graduate to a small coffee shop or lunch spot, in the cut, with a minimal population.
My first experiments with taking myself out was back in college when I would go to the movies for a matinee. I had my own “movie sweater” like Joan from Girlfriends and everything! Whatever it will take, start in small doses. Eventually, you can maybe work your way up to an actual restaurant where you can get dolled up and take yourself out for a meal. Keep in mind too that if you don’t move up to anything extravagant like a full-on date this IN NO WAY minimizes your encounter. Do what works for YOU!
Tip #2: Location, location, location.
One of the ways to take the edge off of the experience is to be mindful of your surroundings. Maybe avoid busier locations or restaurants at their peak hours so you’re not distracted by the demand in the environment. That way, you’re able to focus on relaxing and absorbing the moment instead of your experience conflicting with others around you. I love dining at places with ambiance, a vibe—if you will, and lots of silence. Do what works for YOU!
Tip #3: Get out of your head.
Challenge yourself to not be consumed with others around you. People around you might glance your way in the spirit of being inquisitive or ready to offer you the “pity eyes.” Don’t let anyone muddle this experience for you. It’s up to YOU to give it meaning and that meaning has nothing to do with anything or anyone but YOU. So much of what we do on a daily basis is for others, make this strictly something you are doing for YOU!
Tip #4: BYOA.
Bring your own anything. Bring a book, a drink (if it’s bring your own beverage, friendly), a journal, etc. Try not to be on your phone too much. This is about YOU more than it is about you in the context of other people, especially on social media. Do what works for YOU!
Tip #5: Pay it forward.
After you’ve found your rhythm of spending time with you, share it with the people in your lives. On a larger spectrum, think about how much better we would function in interpersonal spaces if we all took the time to be intentional about spending time with ourselves.
Disclaimer: I am IN NO WAY encouraging loneliness or unhealthy levels of seclusion. There is a difference between spending time with oneself to foster a better relationship with themselves and feeding isolation that is rooted in depression and unhappiness. I am simply suggesting that we learn to show up for ourselves.
So, let’s try this again:
Hostess: “Hi, welcome to (name of restaurant). How many people will be in your party today?”
YOU: “Table for one please?”
Happy dining! I’d love for you guys to check back with me and let me know how it goes.