I’m traveling for work this week.
I took an extremely early flight out of Philadelphia and landed in Memphis, Tennessee at 8:30 a.m. The conference I’m attending didn’t officially kick off until later in the evening, so I took advantage of my free afternoon to explore the city.
In my search for the town’s best BBQ, I stopped in Blues City Cafe (it came highly recommended on Yelp) for lunch.
After lunch, I called my mom to tell her about my day.
“I had the best ribs in Memphis!” I told her.
“Nice! Who did you eat lunch with?” she asked.
“Myself,” I replied.
She couldn’t believe it.
“I’ve NEVER eaten at a restaurant by myself,” she responded. “If I were you, I would have done takeout and sat on a bench outside.”
I explained to her that I wanted to actually experience the restaurant, and that I really didn’t mind eating alone. It was lunchtime and the restaurant was quiet, filled with plenty of other business travelers, looking for an authentic Southern-style meal.
She replied, “I just always feel so bad for people eating by themselves.”
Before I responded, I had to stop myself- I, too, have felt a little twinge of sadness when I see someone sitting alone at a restaurant. Now I’ll think twice before judging them.
This time three years ago, I never would have been comfortable enough with myself to dine alone. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to proudly walk into a restaurant and say, “Just one!”
Sometime after college graduation, I slowly started to become more independent. I stopped caring so much about what other people thought of me. I stopped making plans based on what everyone else was doing. I began doing my own thing on my own time and terms.
And guess what? It has been great!
Don’t get me wrong; I love my friends and enjoy meeting new people. In general, I prefer sharing new experiences and new places with others, but that doesn’t mean it’s not okay to enjoy being alone from time to time.
If you’re never dined alone, I encourage you to get gutsy in this very small way and try it at least once.
Enjoy the time to yourself to be alone with your thoughts. Allow your mind to wander. Take in the scenery all around you. Embrace the quiet.
Sure, being alone can be scary, but in the end, it’s also very rewarding.
Have you ever dined solo? What other ways are you getting comfortable with being alone? Share your story in the comments below.