I have always identified myself as an asocial, introverted, and my friends often refer me as a loner, which I found myself agreeing to it. Introversion is seen as how one restore their energy by restraining themselves from a social situation. Yet despite those labels I put on myself, there are still times here and then that I wish I could have gone out and basically get out of my room. But sometimes when there’s no one available for me, then it is the time where I should bear in venturing by my own — and that does not exclude the idea of eating out. As a self-proclaimed gourmet and as a food enthusiast, I am always excited to try out new dining places in town and savoring its delicacies even though it would mean to disregard my diet plan. Hence, the reason why I started my own food blog were to document such passion in. The thing is, eating out is always viewed as a social activity. Going out for a table for one seemed to be frowned upon in the society, but you at least go to a café if you want to grab a few bites for your own and devour it in the corner. WiFi optional.
Admittedly I often dine out alone, but that doesn’t make me any less hesitant and embarrassed the next time I do it. “Oh, it’s just me alone” seemed to be a presenting statement that I am single, unwanted, and lonely, those of which brought my introversion into a darker light as I feel like I would then be perceived as a selfish, antisocial, greedy glutton. The only way to avoid that kind of sentiment were either to bring in a friend or just grab a take out so then you would not be wasting the space on a table that were meant for at least a party of two. Another confusion is the limitation to the food that you would try since there’s no one to share food with while your stomach cannot help it if you are ordering multiple dishes. Or if your stomach can do, the server’s seemingly judgmental glares ogling over you dear solo diner will make you feel so uneasy. But why did I felt that way?
Dining alone has its own amazing advantages:
- It allows me to eat at my own pace;
- It let me order my favorite meal without any hesitation;
- It gives me space. Literally. Get that cushy sofa bench seat whenever the service is slow or take out your notebook and begin scribbling on the table while waiting for your dish to come;
- In an attempt of being social, eating alone allows you to have a conversation with the servers, the chefs, and even the manager and hear some of their most interesting stories;
- It stops you from eating too much, like from that one platter for three that you ate with only one of your friend plus all the mains you’re eating;
- Dining becomes much quicker and efficient;
- Dressing up and make up optional;
- You can focus on your phone without being called out for ‘not paying enough attention’;
- Reservations are less necessary;
- It is seen as a way of treating yourself; a reward;
- You don’t have to wait for other people to finish their meal;
- You can visit the restaurant at any time within its operational hour;
- You look so damn independent, so established, so stable, so well.
Of course it has its own disadvantages:
- Ordering extra is not good for your wallet and maybe your stomach, too;
- You have to pay your food by your own;
- Phone reservation might seem odd;
- If the restaurant is pretty busy, you’ll be the first one expected to leave;
- Continuation of the previous points, without a party alongside your meal you have no excuse to stay at the restaurant much longer;
- Strangers might find you approachable, and not all of them are pleasant;
- ‘Dining is an experience’;
- As if you haven’t heard the term takeout, delivery, or Seamless.
- You’ll look like a dork.
The cons I listed above doesn’t seem to be a big deal. It certainly not a bigger deal in comparison to the thought of being seen as a friendless loser since a good friend has always been seen as a commodity. Your worth is defined by the people surrounding you — that always seemed to be the idea. Your friends defined your social groups at school, i.e. the popular, the jocks, the nerds; and that doesn’t end there. Your acquaintances today defined your social presence, your position within the societal hierarchy based on your wealth, network, and class. The problem is not the ‘alone’ part since today most people do things by themselves, but eating has always highlight the condition of humans in being a social creature that grows by the idea that eating is communal. In Indonesia, there was a Javanese proverb that roughly translates to “to eat or not to eat, it’s the gathering that matter”. If to dine alone means to stray from the concept, but is it so strange when these days being alone seemed so normal? By the time it becomes the norm, hopefully, the solitary can better survive this modern world.