Matt’s thought for the weekend…
I just had brunch on my own in the West Village. It was lovely. I rushed past the crowd in the overflowing ‘sceney’ restaurant I happened to be walking past at that hungry moment, and was ushered to a single seat at the corner of the bar. No one hour wait. Thank God.
I scribbled down a few notes about what I wanted to do today (including figuring out a last minute Halloween outfit so that I’m not completely under dressed going out tonight), ate a delicious meal, and came back to my apartment.
Whenever I dine by myself I hear the title of a book I see on the shelves from time to time called ‘Never Eat Alone’. I confess I’ve never read the book, but I hear the title echoing in my mind as a kind of unhappy mentor tapping their foot in disapproval.
Though I agree that going out to meals with people is crucial for networking, strengthening bonds with those we already know, and sparking ideas for our careers and businesses, I also believe part of the reason we don’t have people to do this with is precisely because we never eat alone. In other words, we confine ourselves to our homes in our loneliness, fearing we will be that person at the restaurant or bar who showed up on their own, and isn’t waiting for someone to join them after all. We all fear being pitied.
Actually the truth about eating alone is somewhat more exciting. We solitary diners are not waiting for someone, we are waiting for anyone. We know that anything can happen. Our trade is that we have to venture out alone, into the unknown. Sometimes nothing will happen, as in the case of my meal today. But the worst-case scenario is that I sit there alone, with my most treasured team-mate, with time to be present and simply think and people watch. Not such a risky trade after all. Best case, I engage in interesting conversation with someone I didn’t even know existed 30 minutes ago.
There are times in life when we should take the risk to call someone up and invite them to dinner. There are other times when the most rewarding experience you can have is to take yourself. It won’t by any means close off your ability to have the excitement of meeting people while you are there, because in the process you’ll have taken the most sociable step one can take anyway – the step outside your front door.
I therefore propose an amendment to the title of this post…
Never be afraid to eat alone.