At this point, I’ve probably eaten more meals solo than with dining companions and when you do something frequently enough, you start to prefer it.

While it might seem that this is a sad topic, I look at it as quite the opposite. In my mind, being comfortable eating out alone is one of the most obvious signs that someone has the utmost confident in themselves and could care less about what people think. Also, if you’re on the road, you’ve gotta eat, and that shouldn’t be something that stresses you out.

Here are a few of my tips so that you can also begin to experience the unexpected joys of dining solo:

Take timing into consideration.

If it’s 8 pm on a Saturday night at the hottest new restaurant in town, that’s probably not optimal conditions for dining solo. You’ll be putting more pressure on yourself if there is a wait for your table. It might be a better idea to try dining on off-peak hours or someplace that doesn’t look like it has a long queue for tables.

Sit at the bar.

Oftentimes the bar menu is the same as a restaurant’s regular menu, but can also include options that are less expensive. The bar is also a great place to meet other solo diners or strike up a conversation with the bartender.

Order a cocktail.

Liquid courage is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. Just drink responsibly (especially if you’re alone) and don’t get wasted by yourself, because that is indeed sad. Leave that to the creepy old guys that frequent the same bar every night and everyone knows to avoid in advance.

singapore_sling

Solo Singapore Slingin’

Smile a lot.

Whether it’s at the host/hostess or your waiter/waitress, if you’re smiling, you’ll put out an air of confidence. More importantly, you’ll also convince yourself.

Forgive your Host or Hostess.

When they inevitably ask “just one?” and then ask the waitstaff to remove the other place settings at your table.  They’re merely worried about getting their job done and filling tables, so don’t take it personally.

Don’t worry about what you order.

I remember the first few times I ate out by myself when I was on work trips, I’d try to order something that wouldn’t be too messy or something that didn’t look too fattening so people wouldn’t think I”m a slob. Nowadays, those thoughts don’t even enter my mind and I get whatever the hell appeals to me. There’s a freeing in that – just making decisions based on what I want, and not any other factors.

beef_noodles

Messy bowl of noodles, for one. 

Yes, you probably have a smartphone.

If you ask me, sitting on your phone and texting friends or scrolling your facebook/instagram/twitter feeds is cheating. But go ahead…I’m not here to judge. I’d also be lying if I said I never hid behind my technology when eating out alone myself. But do yourself a favor, and try foregoing it just ONCE. It will be uncomfortable, yes, but tell me you don’t have one of the most memorable meals of your life – a true practice in living in the present moment. Some people believe that truly living in the present moment is a form of meditation, which means you can meditate while you eat, and who wouldn’t love that?

Enjoy some excellent people-watching. 

Something I realized when I took my first solo vacation is that sometimes without the distractions of companions, you’ll notice things that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Restaurants can be the perfect setting for all sorts of cultural cognition. For instance, look for any first dates, awkward fights, or interesting group dynamics. You’ll get a dinner and a show!

Remember that no one really cares. 

In today’s millenial world, it’s easy to forget that no one really cares what the hell other people are up to. Especially not as much as they care about their own issues. Trust me, not nearly as many people are noticing you dining alone as you think. The world doesn’t revolve around you. Promise.