It seems to be ingrained in our minds; don’t go out to eat alone. Even my dad, a man of 55, thinks the idea is strange. But why is this a sign of loneliness? I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people eating alone at a restaurant and have not only felt bad for them but seriously thought about inviting them to eat with me. Thankfully my rational boyfriend usually chimes in and says to leave them alone, reminding me that maybe they want to be alone. I had never thought about this before. Who would want to eat alone? In school, eating alone meant that you didn’t have friends, and I had identified with that in middle school after moving across the country.
However, as I have gotten older and started enjoying my alone time more, my attitude has started to change. I’m not sure if it is a sign of maturity or simply an increasing lack of patience but being alone has more appeal to me rather than constantly having people around. It started when I had first moved to Scottsdale. Not knowing anyone but my busy brother, I had to start doing things alone. This included going to Chipotle one night to simply order a to-go bowl for one. This was completely unheard of in my world because it had such a negative connotation. I quickly walked in, made no eye contact, ordered my bowl, paid and basically ran back to the safety and unabashed solitude of my apartment.
Now, this was literally just picking up food. I didn’t even sit in the restaurant to eat it, but in my head everyone knew that I was going home to eat alone and that horrified me for some reason. Flash forward to this most recent weekend. For the first time in a long time I had the entire weekend to myself. This is quite an event to mention because my apartment is usually overrun with boys. Between my boyfriend, my brother, and all of their friends, I have become accustomed to the loudness of things breaking and my never ending string of threats I tell when they don’t take off their shoes inside. Thus, their recent trip to Las Vegas left me to my own devices and I was forced to find something to do.
Now I am no stranger to hobbies or spending time alone at this point, I absolutely love having my apartment to myself. However, I am not accustomed to having absolutely no one to go out to eat with. The food in question here is sushi, not really something you can get to go or at many grocery stores. At least, not if you want good quality sushi. In a desperate attempt to not go alone I invited someone to tag along, which then ended in me changing my mind for reasons I won’t disclose.
As the host sat me at the bar, with a strange look, I started to feel something… or rather, I started to not feel anything. I began to not care that quite a few people were looking at me sitting alone, eating a full three rolls and tons of nigiri by myself. What I did feel was empowered and independent, and I realized something. All of the people I’ve seen before eating alone probably had the same feelings I did. Though it is good to have friends and company, it is entirely different to be friends with yourself and enjoy your own company. I liked the feeling of not caring if people thought I was a sad or lonely person, because I knew I wasn’t. I took confidence in knowing in that moment, I wanted sushi and I did not want to listen to anyone blabber on about themselves or about anything. I felt proud that I not only stepped, but actually ran away from my comfort zone. I also learned something from that 45 minute outing alone. I learned that I have always loved myself and I realize that I have no idea why I had never taken myself out to lunch before. It’s really a great experience!