I recently discovered that women feel self-conscious about eating alone in public. This really surprised me!
I have to confess that I habitually do things alone including watching films and dining out. Based on recent conversations, many women don’t feel as comfortable doing these things by themselves.
The stigma of eating alone
I was listening to the girls at work chat recently and chipped in that I’d had a coffee by myself. They immediately sympathized! When I said how I enjoyed the solitude all I heard was *crickets. Then came a barrage of questions! How many times have I eaten alone in public? What does it feel like? Am I lonely or do I feel judged? Most importantly, what do I DO with all that time alone?
I could hardly believe that eating alone is something many women found daunting. If it hadn’t come up in conversation I would never have known it was something women feel embarrassed about.
Table for one please
Today after I let the contractor in I went out to drop my kids at holiday camp for the afternoon. I then enjoyed a few hours by myself. I did a quick grocery shopping, browsed around and then enjoyed a delicious lunch of chicken livers and mash at Nando’s. A meal my family would turn their noses up at had they been there! I spent about three hours by myself and it was great fun, peaceful and relaxing.
I don’t think of myself as a loner. I just enjoy the company of others just as much as I enjoy my own.
My husband is hardly ever with me when I’m out so I have to either forgo eating out or just do it alone. In fact I’m sure that one of the reasons our marriage works is that I have this independence.
I’m not saying that I prefer to dine alone. I’m just saying that I don’t mind it. I don’t think it’s shameful or that women should be judged for dining alone. When I heard my girlfriend’s discussing this topic, it was interesting that the feelings of embarrassment of dining alone was shared by those who were single, married, moms. etc. Across the board, women feel it would be lonely or have a fear of being judged for being out alone.
The benefits of eating alone
There are so many advantages to dining alone. If you opened yourself up to it, you’d probably notice a few things:
Firstly, there’s no need to make small talk! You can simply eat and enjoy every morsel without distraction. I really love food so when I’m eating something I didn’t have to prepare for myself I relish every bite!
I have the quiet and space to think about things that are happening and need my attention.
I like to look around and watch other people.
I can spend some guilt-free time on social media. My daughter once remarked that one of my favorite things to do is to stare at my phone. She made me so self-aware of time spent on social media that I’ve stopped when I’m spending time with them so I can be more present. With no-one else requiring my attention I can flip on that screen and get a good fill of my timelines!
The time alone is so relaxing I often read a magazine at my leisure or a really good book if it’s not too loud in the coffee shop.
Be comfortable with your own company
As a mom, I’m also ever mindful of the example I set for my kids. I hope that their happiness does not depend on others. I hope they have the self-confidence to be equally happy to do things alone and spend time with others.
Oprah once said “if you don’t enjoy your own company, how can you expect others to?” It’s not good to be alone all the time because God created us to connect. But spending time by yourself once in a while can be a liberating experience if you open yourself up to it.
Do you find the solitude of dining alone peaceful or weird? Drop a comment below and let me know!