For those of you who know me well, you probably know that I live for adventures and yearn for those thrilling moments when I embrace the unknown and my life is hanging by a thread. However, after doing a literally back-breaking cliff jump in the Dominican Republic and rushing to a sketchy hospital with my partner in crime, Mr. Mazza– who was also screaming in agony from the same injury– I now have even higher expectations when it comes to adventures. The legend that we both went down like two fallen heroes is true, and ever since then, I have been searching tirelessly to find something that can possibly elicit the same level of adrenaline. Recently I happened to come across such an activity: eating alone in a restaurant.
You are probably screaming right now: “Eating alone in public? Who does that!?” Yes, it is outrageous. If this is not a crime of social suicide, I don’t know what is. But bear with me: if you are a true lover of adventure, you will soon find out that it is well worth the cost.
After a few interesting experiences of dining alone in New York City, I would like to give you some advice on how to survive such an adventure.
1. Where to go:
You can either choose a restaurant you are already familiar with, or one that is new for you. Yes, eating alone at a restaurant where you have never been before can be daunting, but that’s just part of the fun! If that’s too scary, though, choose a place you’ve been once or twice. At least then you will have a better idea of what to order. Either way, I would recommend having a few options in your mind before heading out. Just keep in mind that this is a perfect opportunity to try out something that you normally wouldn’t do. New things aren’t necessarily bad.
2. What to wear:
Don a pair of sunglasses, a ski mask and a bulletproof vest so that you can hide your shame and protect your lonesome self against any potential harm. Just kidding! Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. Check the attire guidelines of the restaurant before you go, so you won’t feel over- or underdressed. I would even recommend dressing up a little bit fancier than you normally would. Consider this a chance to treat yourself. And who else deserves your full attention and lavish zhushing besides yourself?
3. What to pack:
Nothing! Not even money! That’s part of the adventure.
No, I kid. Seriously though, this is not a camping trip. You are there to eat.
However, if you are concerned about boredom creeping up on you during your wait for food, just bring a book. We all have those books that we bought on blind impulse, and no matter how much we tell ourselves that we will read it “someday,” it always ends up being an intelligent-looking ornament in our house (and we lie to our friends and teachers about reading it). So pick up one of those books, whether it’s The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald or 1984 by George Orwell, because now you have the perfect time to start reading.
4. Phone or no phone?
Although nowadays our phones are like security blankets, it’s time to “disconnect to connect”…with yourself. Don’t be that person who buries his or her face into the phone and barely even looks at what he or she is eating. Trust me, you will have plenty of time later to reply to those texts.
5. Try people watching:
Maybe one of your biggest fears about eating alone is that awful feeling that “everyone is looking at you.” But the sad truth is, even though you are definitely a special snowflake, chances are, all the other eaters are too busy worrying about themselves to pay that much attention to you. If it makes you feel better, just ask yourself if you remember anyone who you ever saw eating alone in a restaurant. If you don’t, then it just means no one will notice you’re by yourself. So why not engage yourself in a fun game of people watching? Just casually observe other guests in the restaurant and see if you can spot anyone interesting.
Maybe eating alone in a restaurant is a bit intimidating, but it’s certainly worth the risk. It is normal that as humans, we long for company and attention, but sometimes we need to spend time by ourselves. If you’re looking for a rush greater than cliff jumping, this exercise is for you. Bon appetite!