When I was studying abroad in Paris I became accustomed to plenty of free time by myself and, as someone who loves to set out and explore new places, this meant partaking in plenty of activities solo, including dining alone. Thanks to Parisian cafe culture, I was able to get used to eating and drinking at a table or bar solo. It’s a practice I still to this day enjoy from time to time and particularly when I travel alone.
So many people I know are paralyzed by the idea of dining solo or doing activities solo. Mostly for fear of what other people think. But living in New York I’ve come to realize that I’m not always able to take advantage of all the city has to offer with someone else with me. What’s more? Sometimes I want to do things alone! I’m extremely social by nature, but I also treasure the time I spend alone.
One of my absolute favorite memories of living in New York was in May 2017 when I went to the New York Philarmonic’s performance of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (The band plays along with the musical scenes as the movie plays). I was just back from nearly two weeks in France and coming up on celebrating nearly one year in business for myself. I got all dressed up and headed up to Lincoln Center – feeling as though I was on the best date ever – one with my beloved New York City. As I approached Will Call to pick up my ticket the woman behind the window remarked “Here all by yourself?” And I replied “I’m on a date night with New York City.” She smiled and giggled and then said, “If I had a cute single boy to seat next to you, know that I would.” I loved the genuine sincerity of her words and I’ll never forget that moment. It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been there alone.
I understand that being out in the world alone – particularly at restaurants when you’re surrounded by people socializing – is like exercising a muscle you didn’t even know you had but I can’t say enough good things about it. Some of my most wonderful travel memories have come from conversations with the bartenders and people that I meet when dining solo. And here in New York I am trying to do more of this. Some of my best ideas often come when I give myself the space to just think and breathe and see what’s going on in my city. I allow myself the room to just walk and see where I go, to see a new spot I’ve been wanting to check out or to find a refreshing environment in which to read a book.
If you’re interested in getting more comfortable with the idea, I suggest first doing a solo museum date or a walk in your favorite neighborhood park. Work up to that dining alone experience. Perhaps get a quick drink at a bar you like or at a hotel nearby where plenty of people mingle. And remember to really step back and experience the experience. I highly recommend airplane mode on your phone as you set out to try and be your own best date. The experience isn’t the same if you spend the whole time looking at your phone. Be present with yourself just the way you would if you had someone opposite you.
While I love my friends and my network, I always want to continue to remember the joy in stepping out your door and enjoying your own company. It’s a refreshing way to get back to hearing yourself.
And p.s. for my fellow New Yorkers, I love that The Infatuation recently published an article on where the best bars are for a solo burger. They really understand this burger-loving gal!