I recently read Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman, the true story of a woman who, in her mid-40’s, started going on adventures around the world after her marriage failed. Her first trip by herself was to Mexico City, where she stayed in a hotel that didn’t have a restaurant or room service. She didn’t know anyone, she didn’t speak the language, and so she decided she would rather go without food overnight than find a place to eat by herself.
I have to say, this concept astounded me. Maybe it’s because I’m no good at fasting, and I especially can’t sleep if I haven’t eaten enough, but this approach baffled me. I cannot for the life of me imagine not eating as a viable alternative to eating alone.
Then again, perhaps I baffle most other people, since my take seems to be different than that of others. As Gelman noted, once she started meeting more travelers, she had no trouble finding a dinner companion, since no one really likes to eat alone.
I beg to differ.
Admittedly, the first time I traveled and ended up on my own for a meal, I felt somewhat self-conscious, but I didn’t let that stop me. I quickly discovered the perks of eating alone, primarily the ability to eat when and what I want, without compromising for someone else.
Furthermore, even when I’m traveling with other people, I sometimes prefer eating by myself, both because I can cater to my own preferences, and because it allows me to enjoy my meal without having to be “on”. I enjoy meeting new people, but only to an extent. As an introvert, I need my quiet time to reflect and absorb what’s been going on, and focus on what I’m doing rather than trying to constantly be focused on external people or events.
Of course, Gelman clearly seems to be an extrovert, so perhaps it’s true that no extrovert likes to eat alone. I don’t know, not being one. All I can say is, this introvert likes being able to eat alone in some situations, and doing so may even allow me to enjoy my food more, not less.