Lessons From Eating Alone

I used to be so uncomfortable dining alone. I'd ask the waitress to seat me in a corner of the restaurant. I tried to look like I was a piece of furniture, so that I wouldn't be noticeable to others. Sometimes, I'd pull out a book and eat while reading. Or I'd get lost on my phone with aimless scrolling, while rushing a fork into my mouth. Each meal became an activity of mindless eating.

I've come to enjoy dining alone. I now ask to be seated at the communal table or counter. The more I do it, the more I learn about myself and others.

Here are the lessons I've learned:

1. I force myself to get out of my comfort zone. I initiate the conversation with the person next to me and it starts with a hello. The first hello leads into some of the best conversations about life and experiences.

2. The person next to me is feeling just as uncomfortable. She/he is feeling just as awkward. I've realized that you'll be the hero of the day if you break the ice first.

3. I get to share food and try different things on the menu. I'm building community through eating. I also ask for recommendations on what's good. The best part is that I savor my meal and enjoy every morsel.

4. I always get a spot in those impossible to reserve restaurants with 4000 plus Yelp reviews. There's always a spot available for 1.

5. I discover new things about myself and realize that I'm not so boring after all. When we're constantly surrounded by the familiar, we get into a rut. We become more judgmental and self critical. When you put yourself in a new surrounding with new people, you surprise yourself. That you still have the candle burning in you.

This all has taught me the important lesson of becoming more comfortable with being alone. 
While I cherish company, there will be times when I won't have any.

n the end, if you can't enjoy your own company, then who will?

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Aliya Janjua