The​ ​Loner’s​ ​Guide​ ​to​ ​Eating​ ​Alone

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Written by Ashley​ ​Seymour

I know, visiting new and interesting places without the buffer of friendship can be difficult. No
banter, no-one there to indulge your poor eating/drinking habits, and no-one to openly admire
your new going-out look, courtesy of Mr Price. On top of all that, you feel eyes burn into the back
of your skull as you sit down at a table literally designed to accommodate more than one person.
Bizarrely, the “table for one?” prompt still slaps me whenever I go out alone to eat.

However, if you look past all that, dining alone can be a truly enriching experience. I know, I am
the queen of dining alone — due to multiple unplanned food cravings that don’t go away despite
my friends’ unavailability. Once you learn to feel comfortable in your own skin, and gain
experience in the art of being publicly private, you can experience the art of going out in your own
time. You’ll feel liberated, and potentially, learn more about the world around you.
As the self-proclaimed queen of this endeavour, I thought I’d take you through the process:

 

Eating alone is not as big a deal as everyone makes it out to be. Image: wendalicious.com

I​ ​invest​ ​in​ ​my​ ​decision

Once my Friday assignment is complete, and my friends all have better things to do than indulge
me in another one of my escapades, I’m ready to go. I do an internal tally of all my favourite places
to eat (no negotiating venues when you’re alone), and commit to the idea of the afternoon alone.
I’ll walk (potentially skip) to my eatery knowing that I have a full two hours of unadulterated
solitude. It’s the introvert in me, but after a day of having to be friendly to ALL friendly
acquaintances on campus, I’m in need of some personal TLC.

 

Shoulders​ ​back,​ ​head​ ​up

That “table for one?” question can be a major setback. Navigating a place full of people, usually
adults adulting, is intimidating. People are laughing, clinking drinks and making connections. That
social anxiety fit in in public sets in under my skin, and I suddenly have the urge to ask the
unimpressed waitress about her life story, for a bit of companionship. However, if you know your
outing alone was your idea, that you’ve decided to have fun alone, the process is so much easier.
Anticipate the awkwardness, buy into it, signal a “1” to the waitress as you walk in. This is your
space too, and you have every right to approach it as you like.

Food

Have you ever not eaten something out of fear that you’ll be condemned by the Gods of Reason
(your friends) for it being too exorbitant/unhealthy? Almost always, I have. Now I know, I know,
this is probably a good thing but I always leave food on my plate the second others do. If they’re
“so full,” then so am I. I mean, if I keep going after they’re full, given my capabilities for eating
food, what kind of glutton would I look like? So I’ll fake it and longingly stare at my leftovers for
the rest of the outing. Dining alone is nothing like that. The waiter will bring you your food, a
double-something if you’re me, and you will avoid eye contact, but then you’re free to indulge in
as much as you want. Treat yo’ self!

People

I’ll sit in a corner at any given establishment, and watch the world go by. Designers furiously
working on their Macs, lovers discuss their most recent spat, artsy junior lawyers (all with their
plaid shirt sleeves rolled up) will laugh at the one whose shares yielded the worst returns — okay
that’s what I think they’re laughing about. Insight into other’s lives is both fascinating and
humbling. I get to see that those around me are driven by the same wants and fears as me and
otherwise, get to listen to the wacky musings of the elite other. For blossoming writers, it’s great
inspiration and for everyone else, wonderful entertainment.

Going​ ​home

When you’re dining with yourself, the only person you’re out to please is you! No after-dinner
shots for me, I’ve got some Game of Thrones to watch. Similarly, if you want to continue in your
mission to debauchery, there is no-one to hold you back. The world is your oyster when you’re out
alone.

As you can see, going out alone can be an enjoyable, and eye-opening experience. This may seem
obvious, but social convention is an insidious frame of mind, subtly holding us back from new
experiences for the sake of ‘self-preservation’. I encourage all of you to take the leap, and actively
try to dine by yourself. It may feel strange at first, but it’s a great way to get to know yourself, your
preferences, and the world around you! What do you have to lose?

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