Someone asked the other day, “don’t you get lonely eating alone?” When I first started out consulting a few years ago, the answer would have been a definite “yes.” But nowadays, the answer is typically, “no, not really.” That may sound like a full of myself answer, but in all honesty, I’m used to it. It’s what I plan on. So when I do have company at a meal, it’s a pleasant surprise!
Over the last 7-1/2 weeks, I’ve gone out to eat with others 9 or 10 times, that’s 9 or 10 out of 153 meals. Almost every Friday night since I arrived here in UB, I’ve spent at my friends’ Nicole and John’s house, having dinner and enjoying feeling at home in their home. The rest of the time I’ve been flying solo for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and very few of those meals have been room service. So while one might think eating alone is lonely, ever since that question was posed to me, I’ve been mulling over a list of the positive things about eating alone:
- I get to meet new people! Whether it’s the person sitting at the table next to me, or the server who takes care of me, it’s an opportunity to connect with a new human being.
- I don’t have to talk when I don’t want to. Sometimes I just crave quiet and easy. Eating along allows me that time to nourish my body while being quiet.
- I can order whatever I want and not feel self-conscious about it. That entire cheese and charcuterie board at Veranda? No guilt. That third glass of wine? No guilt.
- I can catch up on the news and not be considered rude. While being away from home means that I’m not inundated with news, I still keep up with what is going on back home. Over breakfast I usually scan the articles posted on The Hill. Huffington Post is next up, with CNN in a distant third.
- I’m on my own timetable. I’m considering right now where and when to have dinner tonight. Since it’s just me, I don’t have to worry about being late or being indecisive.
- People-watching! It’s better than the airport, and I used to think the airport was the best place for people-watching! A couple who is obviously new dating, the married couples who are so comfortable around each other, the business dinner where everyone is trying to impress, the friends laughing and enjoying each other’s company. These scenes don’t make me sad or yearn to be in the presence of someone, they instead give me a picture into someone else’s life, while being the quiet bystander.
- Lastly, learning to eat alone has given me a lot of self-confidence in other areas of my life. I no longer care if people look at me and wonder why I’m alone. I think everyone could benefit from eating alone sometimes as well.