Fearless Friday II: Table for One



So this week I set out to conquer another stupid fear, eating alone in public.  Actually, I think this fear is made up of many fears…a fear of looking stupid, a fear of being judged, a fear of trying something different…

It’s not the “being alone” part that bothers me.  I love being alone.  It’s the being alone while people are watching.  I have this delusional issue where I think everybody is always watching me, waiting for me to screw up and look dumb.  It’s like paranoia meets narcissism.  In reality, nobody really even knows I exist…I’m pretty much invisible, easily forgettable and…blendy.  If that’s not a word, it should be.

Anyway, I decided to eat at Panera Bread, a soup shop in town.  I pulled into the parking lot and all sorts of thoughts raced through my mind.  Like, “What am I supposed to look at since nobody’s sitting across from me?”  and “Who’s going to tell me if I have a huge crumb on my face?” and “Would it be inappropriate to yell at someone else’s kids, since mine weren’t around?”  It’s a real crisis, you guys.

I walked in going for “mysterious” and “confident” which probably would’ve worked better if I hadn’t been staring at the ground all shifty-eyed.  I’m pretty sure I looked like a hand-shy dog that just peed in the corner.  It wasn’t too crowded, but my heart was palpitating as I approached the counter to order my food.

There were too many choices and I didn’t want to hold up the line so I blurted out the first thing my eyes landed on.

“Broccoli Cheese soup, please…the smallest size you have.”  I didn’t want broccoli cheese soup.

“Will you be eating here or is this carry out?”  She asked.

“Eating here.  Alone.  But I have…like…three friends, just so you know.”  I don’t think she cared.

She gave me a tea cup and a vibrator, (not the good kind) and told me to find a seat and the food would arrive shortly.  I took the cup and couldn’t find the hot tea.  See, this is what happens when I don’t have someone telling me where to go and how to get there.  I should NEVER be unsupervised.  I spend five minutes looking for the ever elusive hot tea, which turned out to be on the other side of the soft drink counter.  It was a stupid place for hot tea, but whatever.

I found a seat in a small two-person booth and settled in.  My blood pressure immediately lowered, my heart rate slowed to normal and my breathing resumed its normal pattern.

I looked up and all eyes were on me.  Okay, it was just one small child looking at me, but she was judging, I could tell.

A nice kid brought me the food I ordered and politely asked if there was anything else he could bring me.

“Oh,” I thought, “because I’m eating alone you think I need something?  That I’m somehow lacking something?”

He stood there in awkward silence.

“Or maybe he’s just doing his job.”

“No, I’m good, thanks.”  I finally answered.

He pretty much ran from my table, I’m thinking he sensed the crazy.

Anyway, I pulled out a brand new novel and ate in peace, enjoying the quiet space I had to just relax for a minute. And by “minute” I mean hour and a half.

Nobody looked at me, judged me, or gave the slightest crap what I was doing.  In fact, it wasn’t scary at all.  I have no idea why I didn’t try this sooner, all these years I’ve been missing out.

I’m calling this irrational fear officially “conquered” and moving it into the “possible addiction” category.

On to the next fear…



7 responses to “Fearless Friday II: Table for One

  1. You did it! Congrats! Panera is such a girly place too and very acceptable. I don’t mind eating alone contingent that it’s not one of those restaurants where there is approximately 2″ between the tables. I mean, they are so close you are literally having dinner with strangers. Once I stayed at a hotel in San Francisco called The Cliff. I went down to dinner only to be sat at a “community table” where complete strangers sat with you? This room cost $300/nt, I did not pay to eat at a commune.


  2. I used to have this fear too (pretty sure I had the same thoughts running through my head too) but now I’ll happily eat two course dinners on my own, with a glass of wine or martini on the side (and a good book on hand in case the food takes too long to come out). I still like eating out with friends, but sometimes I just don’t want to have to talk to people


    • Wine, books and not having to make small talk…sounds like how I imagine heaven will be! (Not that that’s where I’m heading) So how did you get over your fear?


  3. Well done you! 🙂 I love Panera!


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