Table For One, Please

In our American society, eating alone has a negative connotation. Our culture enforces the concept of socializing while eating. Not only that, but Hollywood has stigmatized people eating alone as a “sad” scene that is pitied. I decided to challenge this societal norm, so I elected to dine alone at Inari Sushi, a Japanese restaurant serving sushi and hot entrees in chic, modern surroundings with an outdoor patio.    

When I entered the restaurant, I was really confident and eager to challenge society and myself. The waitress kindly greeted me and offered me the option of sitting at the patio or inside. Obviously, I decided on the patio. It was such a lovely afternoon that I wanted to enjoy the wonderful weather. I sat down and I reviewed the menu. I felt a bit self-conscious, but that feeling quickly ended. Having the menu was like an anchor that I was able to rely on - it was like having a phone; phones and big laminated menu cards can help you hide from people and look super busy.

I finally came to my decision: Salmon Teriyaki served with miso soup. But as I ate my miso soup, I started to feel extremely self-conscious.  Is that couple over there watching me? Oh, God, even that kid thinks he has more friends than I do, and he’s only 6. Arghhh. I want to leave. I didn’t want to be judged as an outcast that has no friends.

Being alone makes one hyper-aware of everyone else. When you’re by yourself, you’re more in tuned with the world around you and the small space you occupy. Being on the patio was also the perfect place to reflect and see the world in front of me. The view was equally lovely and hectic since my view was of a busy avenue, and that’s just how life is supposed to be. Post patio reflection, I feel that this solo adventure really taught me that we should all be confident enough to go out to dinner alone; to partake in a "social activity" solo; to be completely alone and comfortable in a crowd. I was able to enjoy my food without staring at someone else across the table. And let me tell you, it was a lovely experience. I was able to focus all my senses on the rich taste of the salmon with a dash of ginger and soy sauce (@ people who know me: this was before I became a vegetarian).

Now I feel more than confident to dine alone without the worry of being judged or looked at as an outcast. Society can be cruel to set such rigid standards that one has to fit within. Eating alone is not as terrible as Hollywood and American culture portray it to be. I can choose to be different and not worry over what others think of me.

images courtesy of Pinterest