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Aloneness in the Crowds

Sometimes when you come to a big conference aloneness feels like anathema. Everywhere you turn, people are standing in groups, sitting in groups, moving in groups. But I’m not a big group person. I’m a one-on-one person. I’m a handful of people person, preferably meeting in a quiet space. Sometimes I’m a solitary person.

I chose to spend my first day at BlogHer alone. The conference hadn’t begun yet, but I was in Chicago with 10 hours of uninterrupted free time. I got coffee and sat by the river reading. Then I went up to my room to Skype with Josh and the kids. And then I took myself to dinner, reading To Kill a Mockingbird at the table. Finally, I went back to the hotel room to read and watch a movie on the iPad in my pyjamas. There was a big fireworks display that started inexplicably at 10:30 pm.

If I can’t be with Josh and the twins, being alone is the next best thing sometimes. I really love going out to dinner by myself. I like asking for a table for one and then setting my book on the table beside me.

I usually like myself, so I guess it makes sense that I like being alone with myself.

Though there have been times in my life when I haven’t liked myself very much and I needed to be around other people just to not be alone with myself.

I like now better than then.

Though, of course, there are some people who like themselves and thrive in big groups, and others who dislike themselves but still prefer their own company to everyone else’s company.

Do you like eating alone in restaurants too?


1 Pepper { 07.25.13 at 8:27 am }

I don’t ever do this, mostly because the opportunity just doesn’t present itself. The rest of your day sounds perfect to me, though. I am also not a big group person and I do like my own self right now, so sitting and reading, walking, eating, and a movie on my own all sound pretty good.

2 Delenn { 07.25.13 at 8:36 am }

One of the things I miss from my old job–my hour lunch. I would often go to a restaurant and read a good book. I miss that.

On the other hand–I often hate feeling alone in a crowd. I want to be a part of it–but often find I am an outsider even when I am with a crowd.

3 Kasey { 07.25.13 at 8:39 am }

I love being by myself. Its so refreshing and the older I get the more I thrive being a lone at times. I hate large crowds and big groups they give me such anxiety.

Enjoy your trip~

4 jodifur { 07.25.13 at 9:23 am }

One of the bets parts of Michael at overnight camp has been being in the house, alone, with quiet. I feel like years ago I would have filled the afternoon with ALL THESE PLANS because I couldn’t stand the quiet, but now I relish the quiet. Last night Doug had a card game at our house and I went to Starbucks by myself because I couldn’t stand the noise. I’m like an 80 year old woman.

5 Catwoman73 { 07.25.13 at 9:29 am }

I love being alone- in restaurants, while shopping, at the beach, in the movie theatre, at conferences… wherever. I am a true introvert. I can gear myself up for the occasional party, wedding, or other social gathering, but only because I know there’s a limit on how long I’ll have to be around other people. I used to view my extreme introversion as a fault- probably due to the fact that my father made a point of telling me NON-STOP that I needed to be more social- but now, I just accept it as a part of who I am. Those who I choose to let into my weird little world are those who understand and respect my need for solitude. My husband is wonderful in that respect, even though he is a much more social person than I am. It works out very well in situations that involve large crowds- he does the socializing, and I sit back and quietly observe. I’m sure people think that he rules the roost, and I am the ever obedient wife… or something like that… Lol- if only they knew!!!!

6 Jamie { 07.25.13 at 9:31 am }

Sounds like a relaxing day! I enjoy alone time too. But I have to admit I’m looking forward to having dinner with you tonight. Hopefully you can pause Scout’s adventures for a bit! ;). I’m waiting for the train in now.

7 Sarang { 07.25.13 at 11:08 am }

Hello from Chicago, Mel. A day of respite and quiet before the conference crowds sounds like just the thing. Like you, I prefer a handful of people in a quiet enough space to really talk. I’m new to Chicago…clicked on your blog last night, read about BlogHer being *right here* and voila! Booked myself a pass for Friday. I would love the chance to meet up with you and any other ALI bloggers who’ll be there. I know it’ll be jam packed for you with speaking, etc…but if you are looking for a quiet ALI group to meet up with Friday lunch (or dinner)…count me in! (Also, may be in the Adoption Birds of a Feather lunch group.) Sarang / Lisa W.

8 Juanita { 07.25.13 at 1:20 pm }

I do not really like eating alone at a restaurant. The fact of being alone does not matter, but it always seems as if the waiter want to serve you as fast as possible in order to get you out the door so that more people can sit at the table! I am a very alone person though, likes to me by myself with myself. I do however hate to be alone in a crowd, as a matter of fact I hate being in crowds altogether.

9 Monica { 07.25.13 at 3:34 pm }

I don’t mind eating alone.
I went on a vacation by myself after I was divorced. I went to a fitness spa in California and the whole trip helped instill confidence and develop my own self. I loved it.

Meanwhile, come clean. You weren’t alone – it was you and your candy crush game!! I know it!

10 JustHeather { 07.25.13 at 3:50 pm }

As I read about you going to a restaurant alone, I flashed back to being in Vienna with my husband, but he was at a conference, so I had many meals alone… It was awkward, because each time I asked for a table of one, the maitre d’ would question me and sound like s/he couldn’t believe I was eating alone. Now here in Finland, it is 50/50. Sometimes I like being alone for lunch, then I can read a book, but other times it is nice to catch up with others. The rest of your day sounds perfect though!

11 Lori Lavender Luz { 07.25.13 at 3:59 pm }

Doing so now. Happy as a clam.

12 loribeth { 07.25.13 at 4:16 pm }

I used to eat in restaurants (& go to the movies) by myself occasionally when I was at university, and when I did a bit of business travelling back in my early 30s. I would bring a good book or magazine with me & I loved it. I remember in particular having dinner at the restaurant in my hotel n Calgary one night… I’d arrived late & didn’t want to venture out in an unfamiliar city after dark. I was one of just a handful of people in the place, & the waiters treated me like gold. I ordered a dish that included sautéed chicken with strawberries (! — it was delicious!) & to my delight, they wheeled over a cooking station & made the chicken & strawberries right in front of me, joking & chatting as they did. I wouldn’t want to travel all the time, but I can see its occasional appeal. 😉

Enjoy BlogHer! — looking forward to a full report. I am sure you will find your tribe to socialize with soon enough. Balance is a good thing. 😉

13 Siochana { 07.25.13 at 6:04 pm }

When I was living in Greece I ate alone in restaurants fairly frequently. For example I might be taking a day trip, or staying somewhere where there were’t groceries available, and I’d have lunch or dinner. It never bothered me at all when I was there, probably because I did a lot of other things alone too. Back home however I can’t recall ever going out to a “real” restaurant by myself. I guess there is just no reason to do that when it is more comfortable to go home and make something. Restaurants are places I go with my husband or to spend time with my friends. 🙂

14 persnickety { 07.25.13 at 6:35 pm }

I love it, and sometimes movies by myself as well (depends on the movies). My husband though, not so much- which is funny because he gets to do it more (i go to the gym, he gets to go to the pub).

On our recent trip to tokyo I did get to do it- because the two teenage boys wanted to go places where he wanted to go (akihabara, nakano broadway) that I had little interest in, and I wanted to go places they really didn’t (i offered, but fabric town apparently not appealing). I have all these amazing picture of lovely cakes and coffees, my husband has none.

15 a { 07.25.13 at 8:00 pm }

I like eating alone, but not in restaurants with servers. I eat too fast, so it’s just not very comfortable when I would like to just sit there and read. I went to Chicago for a work meeting a year or two ago and I loved staying downtown and walking around by myself.

I hope you anjoy yourself! In crowds and alone (or alone in the crowds, as the case may be)

16 a { 07.25.13 at 8:01 pm }

I like eating alone, but not in restaurants with servers. I eat too fast, so it’s just not very comfortable when I would like to just sit there and read. I went to Chicago for a work meeting a year or two ago and I loved staying downtown and walking around by myself.

I hope you enjoy yourself! In crowds and alone (or alone in the crowds, as the case may be)

17 It Is What It Is { 07.25.13 at 9:45 pm }

I was single until I met my husband when I was 33 and we had a bi-coastal relationship so I was still alone, a lot. I was a female executive working in a male dominated industry which meant long hours, especially because I was single and without children. I didn’t cook at that time so if I wanted a good meal I took myself out. And I took myself to the movies, too.

Today it would be a RARE treat and one I would value immensely.

18 St. Elsewhere { 07.26.13 at 12:50 am }

I like to shop alone, and I am very comfortable with the idea of watching a movie in a theatre minus any company.

I am however, a little dodgy about eating alone in a restaurant, unless it is a place whose ambience I am aware of. So I won’t like to hit a new restaurant alone, but would rather prefer to get my food packed and take it to my house/hotel room and eat at ease.

19 cindy { 07.26.13 at 8:17 am }

I can never go out to dinner by myself. I would rather take it to go.

20 Mali { 07.26.13 at 6:08 pm }

I used to travel a lot internationally for business, and although there were a lot of downsides, I used to treasure the time alone too. Though I preferred ordering room service, I had no problems eating alone in a restaurant. Right now I’m away with my husband, and I have to say, after 6 weeks on the road, I kinda miss my solitary coffee and ipad (reading OR writing) sessions alone. (Thank goodness he won’t read this, thou I suspect he feels the same!)

21 Tiara { 07.27.13 at 7:55 pm }

I do so love eating alone in restaurants. There was a time in my life when the thought was paramount to stabbing myself in the eye but coming into my own & being able to enjoy my own company as I did when I was a child, that is priceless to me

22 Battynurse { 07.28.13 at 4:22 am }

I’m fine with eating alone in restaurants and doing most things alone although I find I spend much of my time at home. I do recognize a bit of myself though in your comment of not liking yourself and not wanting to be alone with yourself. In the past I’ve tended to be like that but the last 5 years or so I seem to prefer being alone. I’m not completely sure if its because I’m more comfortable with myself or I just dread the effort and potential for let down interacting with others requires.

23 Karen (formerly Serenity) { 07.28.13 at 8:05 am }

I used to LOATHE eating alone. Probably remnants of my unpopular middle school days when I was forced to sit alone at the lunch table; but I remember in college skipping the dining commons if I didn’t see anyone I knew. As I’ve gotten older I haven’t taken the opportunity to eat alone.

So you know what I did on Friday? Inspired by this post, I went to a restaurant with my copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It was fantastic, actually.

I will say: I’m not a big crowds person either. I prefer one-on-one time and/or small groups.

Sounds like the conference was great. Welcome home.


24 Justine { 07.28.13 at 2:20 pm }

I like walking alone … I did the same thing when I first arrived in NY last year. Ate alone, walked alone, made myself feel a little more calm and at home in my own mental space.

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