Table for One
One night when I was in high school, I was left to my own devices for dinner. Not being particularly thrilled about this due to my lack of culinary skills, I decided to take myself out to dinner. It was a weekday night, so downtown was relatively quiet. I stepped into a local grill and brewery that I had been to many times, and I casually said, “table for one.” After getting a somewhat confused look, the young hostess took me to a table where I was surrounded by couples and families. When my waiter came to serve me, he asked if I was meeting someone, I declined happily and said it was just me tonight. Then he promptly handed me a drink menu (mind you, I was probably seventeen at the time) and after a few moments, I decided on the house nachos and a huge burger. As I sat there, enjoying every bite, I noticed many people looked at me with an almost sadness. It wasn’t until I had finished, it occurred to me why.
They probably thought that...
A) I had no family to share a meal with
B) I had no friends to share a meal with,
or the worst C) I had been stood up on a date.
None of these were true. Yes, my family was busy but I could have easily made myself a grilled cheese at home. I chose to take myself out to dinner, and I didn’t comprehend why people seemed to think that a young adult eating alone was strange or sad.
Years had passed, but one thing had remained constant. I realized that I loved eating by myself. I practiced it regularly at school, and in my hometown and the more I practiced it, the more empowered and comfortable I felt with myself. I never took the time to realize how much this has benefitted me until recently.
I was out to lunch recently after my yoga practice. It was a beautiful day and I was soaking in all of the wonderful things around me, writing in my journal and going over Bible verses when I heard a strong and unpleasant noise. I looked up, and a man yelled at me from across the street, “Honey! You’re too pretty to sit and eat alone! No one to share with?” I looked at him with the most confused and perplexed face. I chose to ignore him and went about my routine. But I could not get this idea out of my head... why does eating alone have such a stigma?
Now, that night back in high school was a fluke. Normally, my family always eats dinner together. It is a time for us to talk about our days, do a pulse check and just enjoy each other’s company. Growing up Catholic, my family is deeply embedded within fellowship. One of the best ways to create and help prosper fellowship is to share a meal. That day out to lunch however, I believe was not a fluke. It really got me thinking. The Bible recounts many times the apostles broke bread with fellow believers, enemies and others. It is the base of our faith to share in the body and blood of Christ. Therefor, fellowship has the power to inspire, connect and repair relationships. That’s when the lightbulb went off in my head. What if I looked at this time I used to eat alone, as simply sharing fellowship with myself?
Having a relationship with yourself is crucial. As I have grown up, I have become very self-aware mostly by nature but also through my life experiences where I have had to adapt quickly. I've realized that at the end of the day, you are your own best friend. No matter what happens in this world or in your life, you are who you wake up with and look at in the mirror. No one on this Earth can protect, care for, or advocate for you, better than you. So why not create a fellowship with yourself?
That is an easy question for me to be proactive about, because I like to be alone, and I know that is not something everyone is comfortable with. Especially when it comes to meal time. No one wants to be the person with no place in the cafeteria. But as a young adult, it is important for us to be comfortable with ourselves. Eating alone has empowered me in many ways. It has given me time to reflect, and nourish my body. I put away my phone and usually bring a book, or my journal but sometimes I just sit and practice patience. It has given me so much time to look inward. I am actively paying attention and giving thanks that I am able to put food into my body and I reflect on how incredible that is. How incredible MY body is. I am also able to remove myself from daily distractions such as group texts, funny memes, or whatever else is going on in the digital world. While they keep my day entertaining, it is helpful to know for at least an hour or two I can focus on something other than a blaring screen.
In my opinion, sharing fellowship with yourself is one of the best things you can do. In this world of body-shaming and self consciousness, repairing or starting a relationship with yourself is a gift. One way to work on that, is to embrace solitude and break bread with yourself.
I encourage everyone to take time out at least once a week to eat alone. Embrace the awkward, embrace the uneasy and eventually it is not so scary. And who knows, maybe saying “a table for one” won’t be so taboo anymore.