Why I LOVE to eat alone

I was raised to believe that meals were communal activities, so when I came to NY in 1997 and found myself sitting alone at a restaurant for the first time, I felt very exposed. Having no one sitting across from me was so strange and I kept thinking that all the other diners were wondering: "Is she a loner? Doesn't she know anyone? Does she have no friends?"

Eating alone at home was completely different. I would cook, then sit at the table and eat. Maybe read or watch TV at the same time, so being alone didn't faze me, but the idea of going to a proper restaurant and eating a meal by myself had never occurred to me until I came to this country.

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In Mexico, we learn to eat in the company of others. I used to think that people that ate alone were sad and lonely, which is of course ridiculous, but it's one of those misconceptions you just grow up with.

So those first times I ate by myself in restaurants felt awkward. I was too conscious of being on my own. I would try to read my book, missing sentences and having to go back to re-read again and again because my self-consciousness. I couldn't just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.

But no one cared. No one does because in New York you see people eating alone everywhere, from the corner coffee shop to the most elegant restaurants. Everyone in this town eats alone from time to time--and it's great!

Since I started working on my own, I have lunch by myself almost everyday and I made the decision that even if I'm drowning in deadlines, I have to step out of the office -- if only for 20 minutes. I get a lot of pleasure from deciding exactly what I want to eat, without negotiating with someone else. I never realized how awesome it is to enjoy something delicious, when there are no distractions and my mind is only occupied with the food in front of me.

I've grown to love eating alone. I especially love eating while sitting outdoors (weather permitting of course) or sitting by a window, like I did today. Many of my Mexican friends say they hate to eat out alone, but I always tell them that learning to enjoy a meal by yourself is an empowering experience.

Eating on my own I feel very free to do things like people watch or let my mind drift. It's just me, enjoying my own company -- which isn't half bad, I must admit.

Do you like to eat alone or does it feel weird?

Topics: advice  relaxation