6.22.2015

DATING YOURSELF | THE ART OF EATING OUT ALONE

Nothing can come between me and my food. Even if it means sitting down alone, ordering a meal in a busy cafe surrounded by couples and families with nothing to stare at but the view in front of me. I will shamelessly enjoy every bite, and order the hot chocolate afterwards to finish.  I've had several conversations with friends about this recently, and I've often been met with three interesting, mixed reactions:

1. The simple "I love to do that too" or "I really want to try that sometime"
2. The "Really? Do you not feel lonely or care what others are thinking about you?"
3. Or "I'd love to be able to do that, but it terrifies the life out of me."
I completely get the reasoning behind all three points of view. I was once the girl who loved the idea of being my own public date, but didn't know how to go about it. However after spending plenty of time traveling on my own, I was forced to suck it up. 
Then guess what? In the process I realised that I freaking LOVE having that me time.
It's so freeing to know that despite the awkwardness and the stares, you have the freedom to go out alone for that cake you've been craving, like a boss
I know that for every person reading this thinking 'it's not a very big deal' they'll be five people struggling with confidence who need to be encouraged that it's very possible to take yourself on a date and enjoy every minute.
So for the guy or girl who says they want to do it but doesn't think they can, here are a few things you can do or think about whilst on the journey of being a solo diner:

Pick somewhere with comfy surroundings

The worst feeling in the world is being somewhere alone you don't want to be. Pick a place that's your favourite spot, or somewhere you love the look of if you're in an unfamiliar city. Before I go to a new city alone I'll usually turn to Trip Advisor or Pinterest to look up popular foodie places I can hit whilst I'm there. You can't beat a recommended cosy spot with something yummy to eat.

Bring something to do

A book, a piece of work, a newspaper, a journal, anything. 
Sometimes it's easier when you have something familiar you can concentrate on to help you relax into your surroundings.
I tent to avoid my phone just because it's so easy to get sucked into the 'hour of scrolling Instagram' trap (we've all been there). You may be far more disciplined than me, so whatever you feel comfortable with - do, and make it fun or productive!

Let them stare

It's super easy to get a little extra paranoid than usual. You somehow feel like everyone who glances at you is thinking 'Oh you poor soul, eating alone' or 'whoops looks like some's been stood up'.

You'll be surprised that a majority of people will be thinking the exact opposite. When I've asked people how they feel when they see someone sitting to eat alone, they've usually said that they've felt drawn to that person. That they think they're brave for having the confidence to be alone, and that they wish they could do the same thing. 
I can guarantee everyone in that restaurant will be thinking about their own issues, not about how many Cat-Lady-like tendencies they think you have.

Jump into the deep end

Don't over think it, just do it. If you happen to be in town and crave a coffee, challenge yourself to sit in and soak up the day rather than it take away.


Make it a habit

The more you do it, the more you'll get used to it. It doesn't have to be a daily thing, it could be once a week, month, or whenever you feel the itch to get out of your comfort zone. I developed the habit of  going to coffee shops at uni to write my dissertation, and it became my favourite thing to do. It made a big difference having a fresh change of scene from the dusty book shelf in the uni library!

It's a process, and it may not be for everyone!

I have plenty of friends who just feel plain bored spending time alone, and love to always be in the company of others. The very idea of sitting alone in coffee shop may just make you want to go to sleep, and that's cool. I love the best of both worlds, and there's nothing wrong with either! If you're like me and you like to pop out for a cuppa with friends or alone once in a while, find what's works for you... and do you boo!



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