You are a woman and you are hungry and alone. How do you feel about going out to eat by yourself? There are a bunch of reasons why someone would be eating in a restaurant alone, and none of them are related to the reasons why I typically choose not to eat out by myself. I can count on one hand how many times in my life I have ordered a meal at a table and eaten alone at a restaurant. Guess what? The only person impacted by that decision is me and why am I choosing to miss out?
Personally, it feels a bit humiliating to eat alone. I kind of feel like the word LOSER is tattooed on my forehead. When I look at how ridiculous that thinking is, I can’t help but laugh at myself. Seriously, I must think I am all that and a bag of chips that anyone cares that I am eating at a table alone. The ego is such a funny thing, isn’t it? It gives us all kinds of warped ideas of what perception and reality are. There is no tattoo on my forehead and honestly the amount of people that would even give it a second thought is so small, I can’t believe that embarrassment or humiliation has deterred me from eating alone. Nobody but me cares and if someone else does, it is their problem, not mine. Has anyone ever walked up to someone eating alone at a restaurant and said what a loser they must be to be eating out by themselves? NO!!
I think part of it is a gender thing. I see a man at a table in a restaurant and I think nothing of it. Must be a man traveling or he is single, lives alone and doesn’t know how to cook. I see a woman eating out alone – which is a rarity I might add – and I don’t think the same thing. The thought that she is traveling or decided to treat herself to a meal cooked by someone else or anything along those lines rarely crosses my mind. I also think about how dangerous it could be for her and isn’t she asking for trouble? (Yes – totally blaming the victim. Mea Culpa!)
I have a couple of male friends that eat at the bar in restaurants. They avoid the whole table thing and become social on the bar stool. Again, why is it that it feels more acceptable for a man to belly up to a bar stool and eat a meal or have a drink but not a woman? It is Women’s History Month in March and there are quite a few of you that are rolling your eyes at this line of thinking. Help a sister out – tell me I am not the only one who has ever thought that seeing a woman eating alone at a bar or at a table by herself is much less safe than seeing a man eating at a bar. It doesn’t make it right, but safety is still a real concern for women even in 2017.
Having a touch of a defiant nature in my blood, I have considered eating at the bar instead of taking my meal home to eat at my kitchen table avoiding the social stigma created in my mind. Really all I need to do is sit down at the bar, get a good meal or have a drink, be friendly and go home, right? I can’t help but think that the signal sent out by a woman sitting alone is different than a man’s. Why does it appear to give some an invitation to approach and be inappropriate? As if there was a sign on my back that says: ask me why I am sitting here alone? If I want company? Then I get to reel those thoughts back in and ask if that wasn’t the goal – to be social and have conversations with people so it didn’t feel like I was eating alone?
Oops – again I get caught up in a story that deceives. That is what this column is all about. It is called unraveled because I am attempting to unravel the stories that I – and so many women like me – have been deceived by for years. We develop these story lines and accept them as truths for ourselves, but the truth is these stories are deceiving and false. They keep us from living rich beautiful lives because we claim their ugly truths as our reality. The reality is these stories are so far from the truth. I, for one, am ready to take back the truth and go take the world by storm on my terms. I can do that at a restaurant alone or at my kitchen table, but I get to decide how I want to show up in the world.
I get so blinded by the fear of what will be thought of me if I am alone in a restaurant that I forget to wrap it in gratitude. I get to be grateful that there are restaurants to attend and that I have transportation to get there. I get to be grateful for making a living that can afford me the opportunity to go to a restaurant, because Lord knows that hasn’t always been the case. I get to be grateful that I can patronize an eatery that is the realization of someone else’s dream coming true. How about that I have intellect, health, mobility, etc. to notice that I am hungry and know how to fill my own needs? I get to be extremely grateful that I can express self-love in the form of taking myself out to enjoy a meal. The list can go on and on and on. Typically, when I finish making a list of things I am grateful for, I can’t remember why in the world I didn’t want to go sit at a table or cozy up to a bar stool for a meal by myself.
The bottom line is there will be no more depriving myself of eating out when I am alone. No one gives a rip if I am alone. As for safety, always be aware and be smart. That should stand to reason if you are a woman or a man. Besides I am all about self-care and I want to enjoy treating myself occasionally. I deserve a great meal if I want it. Part of loving who I am is treating myself like a gift and what better gift than a good meal prepared by someone else. Can I get an AMEN? Eating alone will no longer be taboo, because who is it depriving? Are you with me? Isn’t it time to unravel the stories behind eating out alone, so everyone can benefit?