Solo Travel: The quandary of dining alone

Solo travel can be tricky for various reasons. 
One would be mealtimes. Specifically the evening meal. 
I’ve never felt able to eat in a proper restaurant alone. (Poke House however, I sat in twice..) I don’t really know why, I suppose I fear I’d be self-conscious of other people’s awareness of my alone-ness. More so than when I’m simply wandering around alone, or sitting with a coffee alone. 

There is an atmosphere in restaurants; people chattering, enjoying each other’s company (or not), jolly over a glass of wine. When I’m alone, because I’m not absorbed in what the person in front of me is saying, I’m much more aware of my surroundings. I become more of an observer. 
This can go one of two ways. I either appreciate this for what it is, a chance to practice simply being mindful and present, savouring my food, taking in the scene in front of me and perhaps diving into a book.
Or, I become a victim of my self-sabotaging thoughts: 
“People are wondering why you’re here alone..”
“Why ARE you here alone?”
“This would be so much more fun if you had company..”
“This was a bad idea..”

I very occasionally go to Nirvana spa alone (I find I get my money’s worth if I can be in silence and not converse with anyone) and will have a bite to eat. As I sit down at my table, I will swiftly scan the room for anyone else eating alone, just to see if I’m the only one.  I nearly always am, and my next thoughts are “Will people notice? What will they think? Will they think I have no people? I have lots of people!”. 
Then I direct my focus to the menu, to my book, to my food when it comes, and I remind myself of all the reasons I am there alone. 
Because I love my own company. 
Because sometimes I don’t want to talk. 
Because sometimes I’m perfectly happy being inside my head.  
Because silence is okay.  

I’m quick to remind myself that if I really wanted company, I’d have brought company. 
As for other people, their thoughts are not my concern. (Most people are too involved in themselves to really notice anyway.) 

I did attempt to eat alone at a restaurant my first night in Lisbon..The Universe had other, more lovely ideas. More on this in another post. 


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