Table For One

By Kimberly Hall

I arrived at my favorite restaurant and walked up to the hostess. “Hello, table for one, please,” I said with a smile. She gave me a skeptical look and asked, “Would you rather sit at the bar?” Still smiling, I said, “No, I would like a table, please.”

Photo by Janko Ferlic

Photo by Janko Ferlic

This happened to me in my late thirties, and I was petrified. Having dinner alone at a table was way outside of my comfort zone. I’d had a long week at work, and I decided at the last minute to go to my favorite restaurant, order my favorite dish, and have a glass of wine. I didn’t want the hassle of calling someone. They might want to meet at a later time, and maybe even at another location. At that time, on that day, I wanted it to be all about me.  

I was nervous, but I convinced myself to put my big girl panties on and do it. You may be reading this thinking, Was it that big a deal? To me, it was! For some strange reason I equated eating alone with being sad or lonely. What would I do at the table all by myself? My insecurities were showing themselves, and I honestly didn’t know what to do with them.  

The hostess led me to the table. I sat down and got comfortable. As I looked around, I noticed details of the restaurant’s decor I hadn’t noticed before. I laughed to myself in disbelief, thinking, How did I miss this? The server came over and greeted me warmly. I ordered a glass of wine and my favorite entree. Still a little nervous, I pulled out my tablet and started to catch up on personal emails, barely looking up. I said to myself, “Remember, big girl panties.” Dinner arrived, and I put away my device. As I ate, I thought about some of my insecurities. I didn’t do that very often. See, that was part of my problem. I never sat still. When I was alone, I was always finding some busy work to do to mask my grief, disappointments, and anxiety. After I had filled my scrapbooks with pictures, I moved on to redecorating the house. I remember my girlfriend asking me, “How many times are you going to repaint those rooms?” Yikes, is it that obvious? I thought. But eating alone at the restaurant that night forced me to face my fears. I smiled at people at the surrounding tables. Little did they know, I’d just had a breakthrough moment. That “table for one” outing gave me the confidence I needed to be comfortable spending time alone, embracing the peace and quiet. As the old saying goes, it’s better late than never!

That evening led to many other “table for one” moments. Each year, I walk more uncharted paths, and I’m absolutely loving it. (Of course, I take every precaution to be safe and aware of my surroundings, and I make sure someone always knows where I am.) Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with loved ones, family and friends, but it’s been exhilarating and liberating to experience personal growth on my own. If you’ve never experienced a “table for one” moment, you should try one!