We’re not starting a cult but some followers on Instagram would be nice. Thank you.
There’s always been a slight stigma about eating alone. Somehow, it’s seen as something only lonely people do. This sentiment is further reinforced by TikTok trends like Mouse Moment, which paints eating alone as a sad thing.
@snemthembu24 lol #tiktoksa #viral #lifelately #univlog #dayinthelife #studentlife #mouseeatingalone #tiktoksouthafrica ♬ Mouse eating sound – حيدر🇮🇶
To which I say, f*ck this.
I love eating alone. I love it so much that as I’m writing this article, I’m having kaya toast at Yakun by myself.
Words can’t describe the joy I feel at being able to savour a meal without the need to converse. Just pure, undisturbed peace with my food and my thoughts/book/phone.
I would like to preface that I do not have an issue with eating with a companion; it’s fun catching up with friends over brunch. Plus having more companions means you’re able to order more, and try more dishes.
But eating alone is such a… vibe.
I wasn’t always okay with eating alone though.
When it started
I remember quite clearly when I started to want to eat alone. I had just entered the workforce and was writing articles for a now-defunct website.
Although my then-colleagues were really nice, I felt very different from them. Perfectly okay, of course. You don’t always have to befriend the people you work with. But yes, the barrier was there.
Initially, I would buy my food to-go and head back to the office to eat and read by myself.
But then I started to feel trapped in the office. I didn’t want to eat at my cubicle every day. Plus there are some dishes that just taste better when you eat them on the spot, like fried food.
So I thought to myself, “F*ck it, why don’t I just eat out alone?”
At that time, I was still quite self-conscious, and the idea of eating alone was intimidating.
I didn’t want to be caught dead by my peers chowing down fried chicken by myself. What if they thought I was a loner with no friends?
So I always brought a book with me. Books were my weapon. I thought having one while I was eating would make me look less like a loser.
Still, my eyes would dart left and right scanning for familiar faces, and if I did see one in close proximity, I would burrow my head deeper into the book to avoid facing them.
Fortunately, time (and practice, sorta) allowed me to shed this layer of self-consciousness. I would remind myself to project confidence, and to pretend that I was a strong, independent woman.
I kept drilling it into my head until I felt it. Woah, was that manifestation? Take that, TikTok.
Anyway, it eased me into a rhythm whenever 12pm swung by. I could feel myself becoming less awkward when eating out; my eyes darted around less, I didn’t hide behind my book as much.
I even started looking forward to lunch time because of all the eateries I wanted to try out.
Why eating alone is a vibe
You can eat. Whatever. You want. Any time. Anywhere.
When you eat out with others, there is usually some sort of compromise. It might not be a timing that’s the most suitable for you, or it might not be a cuisine that you actually want.
When you eat alone, the world is your oyster (hah).
You can conveniently tell the server, “No coriander,” instead of, “Coriander at the side please” just to accommodate to that one friend who likes the disgusting herb.
That meal will just be for you, and you alone.
This might sound like a bit of a stretch but eating alone is also better for digestion. Okay, hear me out.
People tend to subconsciously synchronise their eating pace with the person they are with, which means if you’re with a friend who eats quickly, you might end up overeating.
Eating alone allows you to dine at a pace you’re comfortable with.
The last point’s a no brainer: It’s easier to get a seat when you dine alone.
If you’ve ever tried to get a table at a popular restaurant for more than five people during peak dinner time, you’ll know what I mean.
Loner or independent woman?
When I was discussing writing this topic with my colleagues, one of them asked, “How do you decide where’s a socially acceptable place to eat alone at?”
I was stumped. I had never thought about it that way before.
But I guess to most people, hawker centres or fast food restaurants would be a lower barrier to entry because of how casual they are. And the more expensive the place is, the “scarier” it is to dine alone at.
But it was the opposite for me when I first started eating alone.
To me, being at a cafe or restaurant would make the experience seem more intentional, like I actually wanted to dine alone. I chose not to have a friend to dine with me at this nice eatery that’s meant for socialising.
It made me feel like a rebel.
For some reason, hawker centres and fast food restaurants were a little more difficult to eat alone at, precisely because of how casual they are.
To my self-conscious being at that time, I thought it exuded a wow-you-can’t-even-find-someone-to-eat-with-you-at-such-a-simple-casual-normie-place? energy.
But like I mentioned, I got over everything eventually and I’m happy to dine alone anywhere now. To be honest, sometimes I even feel like dining alone oozes ~main character~ energy.
Something like this.
@daiseygorgeous kinda miss doing these content #fyp ♬ Radio – Lana Del Rey
Yes, main character. Let’s go with that.
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