Why is it so hard for some people to grasp the idea of being alone? It does not automatically mean you’re lonely. Time spent in solitude, or self reflecting, or just me time, is actually a good thing for the self. When you spend time alone, you learn what you like, don’t like, what your limits are, what you will tolerate from others and from yourself. When you constantly have a need to be around people, I feel it’s limiting your full potential if you will. Not that the need of being surrounded by others should be equated as a bad thing, but if you are not comfortable being by yourself in situations you need to work on that. Because if you are not comfortable with yourself, how is it that others can be comfortable around you, or you around them?
When I was in my early 20’s, and had just began working in Manhattan, a good friend gave me some of the best advice. Advice that all these years later still sits in the forefront of my mind.
A woman should be comfortable with herself to go out to a fine restaurant and dine alone. Be seated at a table, not the bar. Enjoy her company.
This still resonates with me. Obviously when I was given the advice, the cell phone technology was not as advanced as it is today, so when you were dining alone in a fine restaurant, you truly were alone. And it was fantastic!! Surely it wasn’t easy the first or second time, it took some getting used to. I would bring a newspaper or a trade publication so I had something to occupy my wandering eyes, or to make the uncomfortableness of having others glare at the woman sitting all alone. Oh the thoughts in their heads, and often times the words that escaped their mouths when they felt the need to express their ideas as to why I was sitting alone. Or the insisting to take a seat at the bar, or the one all the way in the back corner near the kitchen or worse yet the bathroom. No thank you. I’d rather sit right in the middle, look on if you must. Because what you see is not a lonely woman, it is a woman who is comfortable in her skin, and one who is empowered. Then it became routine, I didn’t need the diversion. I just fully embraced my alone time, my solitude. I learned what I liked. What I didn’t. I found my inner voice in a unlikely way. I often get asked… Don’t you feel uncomfortable sitting all alone, everyone is watching you? So let them watch, that is their problem, not mine. If they think my sitting alone is uncomfortable for me, in reality it is making them uncomfortable. They need to reassess how they feel when they are alone.
I admit, that as the years have gone by and the advancement of cell phone technology has improved, I often find the need to remind myself that to be truly alone while dining means disengaging all technology. I try very hard to shut my phone off or silence it, so that I am fully immersed within the moment. This rings true for when you are out dining with friends, loved ones etc. Disconnect the technology to reconnect with others, or in this instance…yourself.
I have taken the advice of dining alone to other aspects of my life over the years. I’ve gone to concerts alone, road trips alone, and more recently I’ve had the idea of taking a vacation alone. I’ll be turning 40 in March, and I want to travel alone. It’s not that I don’t have anyone to go with, it’s a choice. I want an adventure! I want to explore! I want to find the things that inspire me and bring me joy outside of my comfort zone! I want to be alone. Don’t get me wrong, I relish time spent with others as well, but the alone time I think actually helps me appreciate it more. I enjoy having the opportunity to be surrounded by people I choose to have in my life, and at the same time I also cherish my alone time.
So the next time you are out and see a woman dining alone, don’t feel sorry for her and don’t assume she’s uncomfortable. You don’t know her situation, and if you find yourself with the need to ask why she’s alone, don’t for goodness sake tell her that it’s not the end of the world and she will find someone one day to eat with. Yeah that happened once, I had to laugh. Instead, think about how comfortable she truly is in her own skin, how confident she is to be putting herself out there alone in the world for everyone’s curious eyes to gawk at, and why YOU are uncomfortable that she’s eating alone. And if you dare…Try it yourself, what do you have to lose?…
Those are my Random Musings and Wanderlust for today 🙂