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The Joy of Eating Alone

A while ago I did something outside my comfort zone that still gives me a boost every time I think about it. Something that I know confident people do and feel fine about, but that always made me feel awkward and weirdly sweaty. Something that would seem a natural occurrence for an introvert like me, but that my over-thinking brain never let me accomplish before without feeling like a weirdo.

I went out to lunch alone.

Well, actually, I went out to lunch with my planner, my to do list planning sheet, and my journal. So unless you feel as close a bond to notebooks as I do, I was alone for all intents and purposes. And guess what? It was pretty great. 

Now I think it's only fair that I offer a disclaimer. I've eaten alone in public loads of times before, but it has always been in a coffee shop meant for working alone while chugging coffee or in a school cafeteria where there are many other loners trying simultaneously to finish term papers and eat some dang dinner. However, I've never gone to a restaurant that is not meant for loners (like a coffee shop is) and enjoyed a meal. Every time I've considered it I've gotten too anxious at the thought of people looking at me sitting there alone that I chicken out and order Jimmy John's. Cool.

On this day, I knew I needed a mid-day break away from email to take care of a few personal items. I needed to plan my menu for the week, make a grocery list, jot down my workout goals, plan for the next day, and keep my promise to myself to write more things down. So I went to a deli, ordered my lunch, found a quiet booth in the back, and I wrote. I was alone with my lunch and my thoughts, and it was wonderful.

I set my timer for 30 minutes, as I wanted to be quick back to the office. I was a little bit worried that 30 minutes wasn't enough. When I try to accomplish these types of activities at work over lunch, I never get done in a timely manner. Half the time I don't even finish half of my personal items before someone comes in to chat or ask about the progress of a project. My email is open and distracting, the phone is ringing, and I'm trying to do too many things at once. I was pleasantly surprised when I was done eating, done writing, and done with all my planning with 15 minutes to spare!

I felt rejuvenated, refocused, and reenergized as I walked out of the deli. I had a productive morning at work, my personal affairs were organized on paper and out of my mind, and I had gotten some good thoughts down in my journal. I was ready to tackle the afternoon! And guess what? The fear of people looking at me and wondering why I'm sitting alone in a restaurant? It never occurred to me to even think of it, and if anyone did find my solitude peculiar, I was none the wiser.

It's not a bad thing to be "in my head too much." It's actually a wonderful quality to be able to rejoice in the peace and focus of solitude. It's a quality I am learning to love about myself. (My to do list loves it, too!)

Questions: How do you like to spend your lunch break? Do you need time to yourself in the middle of the day, or would you rather find someone to chat with? Have you ever eaten out alone?

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