Don't Pity Me, I Actually Love Eating Alone

“It’s something of a personal rebellion, an effortless rejection of a societal norm.”

Guest Post By: Alexandra Hayes 

The last restaurant I ate alone at was Whitman’s, a burger joint in Manhattan’s East Village. I brought the book I’m currently reading, The Female Persuasion, and ordered a turkey burger. I was one of two parties dining in the restaurant that night; the other was a larger group, debating topics from the legitimacy of online therapy, to whether or not one woman’s father was actually an a**hole. Their voices naturally rose as their conversation got heated (“No, it’s not worth the money! The therapist doesn’t even give me advice!“). I felt annoyed because I had come to the restaurant to eat my burger and read quietly. I wondered if the waitress could sense my disapproval of the other table’s loud banter.

In that moment, I had to remind myself that most people come to restaurants (and particularly, burger joints) to socialize, so I let go of my desire to read and instead, found solace in my own thoughts.

I first started eating alone at restaurants when I was in high school, after I’d gotten my driver’s license. At the time, I did it mainly to escape; my Teenage self was angsty and always “needed space.” I don’t recall ever feeling self-conscious about my solo dining habit, or even really giving it much thought. Walking into a restaurant and saying, “Table for one, please,” came naturally to me. Though, I suppose to others, a 16-year-old girl eating alone in a restaurant may have looked like something of an anomaly.

Nikada/Getty Images

As a young woman living in New York City, I continue to find comfort in my mealtime ritual. I eat dinner alone, at a restaurant, at least once a week and my routine brings me a sense of confidence and joy. Generally, when I mention to friends or coworkers that it’s something I actually enjoy, they laugh, say “Wow” or exclaim that eating alone in public is something they’d never do. Their discomfort at the idea is often palpable. 

Oxford Economics recently published a study that found regularly eating alone is one of the strongest associating factors with unhappiness. Based on other people’s reactions to my habits, I wasn’t surprised to see these results. But I feel a personal sense of disagreement. The study seems to suggest that regularly eating alone could be harmful, which certainly isn’t my experience. Still, I’m sure it’s true eating alone day after day by circumstance, rather than choice, could definitely be lonely.

Personally, I eat dinner “in isolation” one or two times a week. The other nights are spent dining with my partner or friends. “Maybe that’s why I’m cool with eating alone in public?” I asked myself while writing this. I’d suddenly felt less able to give myself credit for a habit I’m pretty proud of. Do I only enjoy this ritual because it’s one pleasant moment of solitude in a life otherwise filled with joyful social experiences? Perhaps.

But then I remember that it’s also true that I’ve enjoyed eating alone since I was a teenager. The habit actually formed when I didn’t have a loving partner, or many friends, and was actually struggling with waves of depression.As the study suggests, humans crave social interaction. “Evening meals are often best to spend with others,” says Dr. Robin Dunbar, who worked on the Oxford Economics study. “The act of eating, and the accompanying social interaction, both trigger endorphins.” Plus, not only does that habit trigger a physical response—for many of us, it’s also considered the norm.

Western society often shames those who opt out from any social experience. I wonder if that’s part of the reason why I find my ritual so appealing. Though I don’t get the endorphin benefit that Dunbar talks about—it’s still something of a personal rebellion, an effortless rejection of a societal norm. Really, other people’s discomfort in doing something that feels so natural to me has made me feel confident, and a little contrarian, I like that. Truthfully, there’s probably also a part of me that just likes to eat alone, simply because I like the idea that I’m the sort of unusual lady who likes to eat alone.

Written by Alexandra Hayes, Thrive Global Audience Engagement Editor

Originally Posted on Thrive Global.

There is a certain pleasure that comes from experiencing things alone; eating along, solo traveling, doing new things on your own. It can be challenging to get comfortable with as its a learning process, one that can be quite rewarding. You can new found independence and experiences that you would have never had otherwise. At Behere we understand the desire and fears around doing things on your own, so we work to make it a comfortable, invigorating process. 

How to Choose? Coworking Spaces vs Cafes vs WFH

Guest Post By: Nisha Garigarn

It’s 2018, more than ever, people are on the go. Working from their laptops wherever there is an internet connection. Home is where the wifi connects automatically, as they say.

For remote workers living in cities, there are plenty of workspaces to choose from. That begs the question, where should you get work done? Well, it depends! How to choose…

Coworking Spaces vs Cafes vs Working from Home

I’ve been a digital nomad for the past few years and have spent my fair share of time remote working from home, cafes, and coworking spaces. Here’s the low down on my pros and cons of each option.

1) HOME:

coworking spaces vs cafes

Working from home is still an oldie but goodie in today’s option-ridden world. It’s also the easiest choice, since you can wake up and start doing work right from your bed in your PJs.

Many top performers have elaborate setups with multiple monitors and customized ergonomic chairs to create the ultimate working experience. Perhaps you’ve seen those Pinterest-perfect home office desks decorated with anything your heart desires. Working from home allows you to personalize your workspace however you want, as it is entirely your own space.

For those with kids at home or dogs to walk, it can be convenient to stay home and work rather than worry about commuting.

Home is comfortable, but perhaps it can be too comfortable. For instance, I sometimes will find myself waking up from a midday nap and don’t know how I got there. Or I’ll procrastinate by doing dishes and laundry instead of focusing on my work.

And you can decorate your home office all you want, but you won’t be able to recreate that energy of being around other people who are working on what they are passionate about.

Pros: comfortable, free

Cons: lots of distractions, lonely

2) CAFE:

coworking spaces vs cafes

Just a few years ago, it used to only be a few writers taking up cafe seats with lattes and laptops, plugging away at scripts. Nowadays, every seat is booked up with a laptop wielding professional. Designers, developers, copywriters, photographers, Facebook-browsers, you name it.

I am a fan of the bustling atmosphere and ease of access. I can go straight from the sidewalk into the cafe and get online quick.

To find a good cafe, you need to constantly be on the prowl. Similar to the hottest clubs, the best cafes will fill up just months after launching, so there is only a short period of time during which you can take advantage of the chill setting before the crowds set in. Once that happens, you’re more likely to show up and be disappointed with your productivity because coffee shops just weren’t created for people to work from their laptops for hours on end.

If you ever do find that elusive cafe with reliable wifi, good vibes, strong coffee, and plentiful seats… never tell a single soul.

Pros: cheap, lively atmosphere

Cons: loud, crowded, unreliable wifi, need to constantly buy coffees or croissants, difficult to find good ones


coworking spaces vs cafes

Coworking spaces have come to the rescue in a huge way. Every major city now has a wide array of spaces, ranging from chains like WeWork to the smaller, independently-owned nooks. There’s even coworking spaces just for women. Some of the best coworking spaces for women can be found here. There are even apps like Croissant which let you go to a bunch of different spaces with one membership.

For coworking spaces, reliable wifi and comfortable seating is a given. Usually there are also phone booths, printing, unlimited coffee, and networking events included in the membership. Some spaces take it much further with amenities— I’ve seen everything from rooftop open bar happy hours to 3D printing to kombucha on-tap.

Coworking spaces will keep you focused and give you opportunities to serendipitously meet other interesting people from different industries. The ability to connect with other hardworking, driven people doing things their are passionate about is exciting.

However, that comes at a price. Depending on the coworking space’s location and amenities, it can be quite an expense each month.

Pros: luxurious, focused, friendly

Cons: they aren’t free

Luckily, as a remote worker, you don’t have to choose just one workspace. You can work from a coworking space one day, and a cafe to switch it up. Workspace freedom is one of the biggest perks of being a remote worker and you can enjoy being inspired by different surroundings depending on your mood. Happy roaming!

Nisha is the Co-founder of Croissant, a coworking app that unlocks multiple coworking space in cities around the world.

Creating Your Reality with Work-Life Balance or 'Blend'

Whoever put the notion in our heads that we should have the perfect work-life balance is a liar. As if we all wake up every morning in perfect harmonious glory, in a pristine house, with a beautifully laid schedule and a career that never required after-hours work or thoughts…

I’m not sure what utopia set us up for this kind of failure, but I do know I don’t want to live there.

Perfect work/life balance is impossible – from early on in our careers to running the C-Suite gamut. (As digital nomads and entrepreneurs, we know better than anyone that circumstances are rarely cut and dry).

Work-life blend is the new “balance.”

It means work and personal lives are so closely intertwined that they might be indistinguishable at times. There’s no “split personality,” instead career and personal goals are correlative. Enter “The Blend.

This was something I realized early on in my career in recruitment and sales. I found that the time I spent at networking events and coffee dates to accomplish “sales,” became fun. Because of my personality, I didn’t experience burnout from this. Especially within that time of my life, when meeting new people was something I enjoyed. Professionals became friends and, as they helped my bottom line, work partners, too. So my approach was to “work” as much as possible. Work didn’t need to end when I left the office. And my personal life didn’t have to end the second I sat down at my desk.

Additionally, working as a recruiter, trainer and field sales developer throughout my college career, meant that networking with other women my age, traveling to different states and playing with makeup was my “job.” I didn’t have a desk or an office, but I had a car and weekly accountability calls with my boss. The more I hustled, the more money I made, and simultaneously was able to grow an incredible network of women.

I didn’t know where work and play started and stopped, so that’s how I grew up in my professional life.

After all, here I am; co-founder of a startup with hefty, long-hour workweeks. My counterpart is a dedicated, marketing genius. She’s also a dear friend. When we shared an office every day (or in the humble beginnings, a couch…), our conversations would constantly seesaw from “friend-zone” to “work-zone.” We’d recap weekend plans over lunch and discuss client work between social events. I have an accountability factor to her and our company not only as a co-worker but as a friend. There’s double at stake and double the reward. Sometimes we work long nights and sometimes we close the laptops for long weekend adventures. We’ve built blended careers because our lives are far from black and white.

work-life balance
Photo courtesy of Kelsey Dixon

On top of that, now I have taken my portion of managing our business and channelled it all through a laptop in South America. Because my business partner and I are friends, we also continually have each other’s best interest in mind, including personal goals. It was a dream of mine to live and work abroad, and now it has become my reality. And as we’ve grown our team, these new faces have become friends. Our gab sessions now happen through a computer screen rather than over drinks at happy hour, but the sentiment is still there. I’m grateful for the blend and wouldn’t have it any other way.

To me, the blend also means doing something I love.

I enjoy my work; I enjoy the people I work with, the clients we service and the industry we’re in. My work is motivating to me. This didn’t happen by accident–I had to build it! This is part of the blend: having your career feel less like “work” and more like “passion.” It may take a step, and then a leap, but it is possible. It’s my life goal, from sharing my story, to have even one person know this to be true, too.

The blend is not perfect–this is just as true as the fact that balance does not exist. Now that I’m traveling full time and I maintain a crowded startup calendar remotely, my life is a big ball of “blend,” and it has its challenges. This morning, I hiked a mountain and now I sit working at a cafe, staring at said mountain. I’m not on vacation, but I’m not in a routine either. I often feel like I’m half-doing both working and traveling. This is a sinking feeling–that you should be in two places at once and always accomplishing two things at once. Feeling torn and never completely satisfied with your day because it’s so blended that it’s hard to distinguish the stop and start. Any feelings of accomplishment are buried by the rest of that to-do list. You want to keep up with everyone back in the office, but you also want to keep up with everyone here for the week on vacation. It’s an unattainable feeling that leaves you dissatisfied with your progress regularly. I’ll close my laptop one minute and be working on my new language in another, but my brain is still in my laptop.

Don’t get me wrong.

I believe in breaks, personal time, vacation, travel, family – all the warm fuzzies that “balance” brings to mind. However, it’s impossible for those things to not interrupt the flow of your “work life” and vice versa. If they are complementary, well then, that’s a step in the direction to satisfaction. It’s work/life blend.

Balance is boring. Balance is too neat. Order challenge, on the rocks, with an extra shot of chaos. Thrive in it. Enjoy grey-ness. Enjoy “the blend.” Strive to have work and life to embrace each other. Work for people you admire and create change with passion. You spend a minimum of 2,000+ hours a year working. Make it count.

Guest Post Written by: Kelsey Dixon

Kelsey Dixon is the “Dixon” of the female millennial duo who founded davies + dixon, a digital marketing firm that creates daring ideas to get stories told. Kelsey currently remotely manages her team and clients as she adventures through South America. Follow Kelsey’s journey on Instagram at @kelseyrileydixon.

Images and words courtesy of Kelsey Dixon.