I almost forgot what it was like to eat in a restaurant by myself. Dining alone is a skill for all women to master, and it’s one we should practice with our heads held high. On my recent week-long solo vacation, I dined alone in a restaurant several times and each one was its own sort of sociological experiment on myself.
Sometimes, I’m a bit nervous and more self-conscious than I’d like to admit. It seems that this happens more if I am dining alone in my own country as opposed to a foreign one.
Sometimes I have a book to read. I almost always have a journal to write in. And recently, I’ve had a screen to swipe at, which takes me entirely out of the experience I’m trying to inhabit. Mindlessly checking social media is the antithesis of what I want to be doing as a solo traveler.
The art of solo dining, then, is all about being in the present moment: sitting with oneself, having no one to interact with except your server. It’s about the chance to sit back and observe all that happens around you: fellow diners, the restaurant staff, the street life outside the window.
Dining alone is also about truly savoring your meal. Pay attention to each bite. Notice the textures and colors, or lack thereof, on your plate. Practice mindful chewing; don’t rush yourself. Take small sips of water, feel the coolness in your throat.
Remember to sit up straight, shoulder back, head up. You are a woman eating alone, and there is no shame in that. Others may look at you with pity: That poor woman, with no one to go out with. Or they may be envious: I wish I had the guts to eat out all alone. She’s so brave. They may be intrigued: Who is this woman who so unabashedly commands her own table, who smiles so warmly at the waitress, who emits no hint of self-consciousness?
(That last woman is you)
One more thing: definitely order dessert.