Solo Dinner out in a public well lit, crowded restaurant.
- Reservations had to be made (7:30 pm)
- I had to be there at least 45 minutes
- Restaurant had to be a big, crowded, well lit, open space so I could not hide in the shadows
- I had to dress up for the event
- I had to do a full dinner: drinks, food, desert
- I could not invite friends to come and meet me at any time
I have had my own shares of Valentine's Day triumphs and mis-steps. In college I bought bouquets of flowers for several of my close, single female friends. They had been complaining about being single so I thought I would do something nice for them. When you go to buy flowers on V-Day, make sure they are roses. I apparently bought carnations or something, and boy did I get a lecture about the difference between the two flowers - lesson learned. On one V-Day I sent flowers to my girl friend at the times place of work. I scored bonus point as mine were the first flowers to arrive on scene that day. She loved me, all the guys hated me because I made them look bad - lesson learned. Going out on a couple V-Day's as a single with other single friends, I quickly realized that there were not a lot of happy singles out celebrating singledom, but rather the bars were littered with people drowning their sorrows and people who kept buying the drinks, trying to get the drowners drunker. Lesson learned.
Several years ago I was terrified to go anywhere social solo. No going out to eat, no movies, no bars, none of it. Unless I had wing people I was avoiding it. It took me time to get comfortable in doing those things alone. The first few meals out by myself I would have to take a book because I felt everyone was staring at me thinking "what a loser that guy must be... he doesn't have anyone to eat with." I remember the first movie I went to buy myself I felt like I had to sneak in because everyone would be looking at me thinking I was some kind of weird creepy person going to the movies alone.
Needless to say with time and repetition, I have now gotten myself to a place where I have no problem going out to eat solo or movies. And often times I prefer the quiet of my own thoughts it can be pretty liberating and I often do some of my best thinking during these times.
Valentines Day however, that is a whole other story. I still feared it, feared being in public, feared being seen as "that guy" who doesn't have anyone. Since a big component of the 1000 Challenge is to face my fears and do that which makes me uncomfortable... it was time to take my self out for a night on the town on the big V-Day.
Within three minutes of sitting down my waitress asked me if I was waiting for someone else, "Nope just dinner for one tonight," I replied. "Oh..." was her response. I panicked, "no no no it's not like that, it's by choice I am trying to do a 1000 things this year I have never done before and blah blah blah blah." My attempt to explain my situation turned into a panicked sales pitch to justify my being there. Calm down Jesse, Calm down - quick I need a beer. Ahhhhh much better, the edge is off, the nerves are settled, on with the night.
About mid way through my dinner one of the managers came over and asked if she could eat with me. "So, what's your story?" "Everyone here is talking about you... we reached a unanimous decision that you must have been stood up."
"Sorry to disappoint, but I am actually here by choice, you see...." while I was explaining the 1000 Challenge to her another one of the managers came over the three of us laughed at the situation I had created. In the midst of Valentines Day, I had become quite the subject of conversation. Fictitious stories of me being stood up and the reasons WHY I must have been swirled through the air and were circulating through the restaurant faster than Charlie Sheen's latest stint in rehab. It was something else and I could not stop laughing about it.
Finally I left after almost two hours at dinner. I left feeling happy, empowered, and much wiser than when I first walked in. I left feeling liberated, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer had to feel sad, or depressed, or angry or anything because I was solo on Valentine's Day. I left feeling like I could just feel happy and love myself. That I could go out and let the "voices" and "conversations", about me go on, and in the end not really care what everyone else thought. It was kind of sad in a way, mid way through my conversation with the two manager ladies I stopped and pointed out how quiet it was in the restaurant. "Do you notice, that we are the loudest table right now? And we are definitely laughing more than anyone else. Look around, these are all supposedly couples in love out celebrating their love and listen to how quiet it is in here."
In fact, in that moment I felt like I was one of the more "In Love" people in the restaurant. I was out by myself on couple days and having a great time. Lesson learned.
So what did I gain from my big date, confirmation of some and learning of new life insights which I will share with you all now:
- Self love is imperative...the more you love yourself the more love you will have to give to another
- If you really love yourself you are never alone because you always have YOU.
- If I can't enjoy my own company, how can I expect anyone else to?
- People love to gossip, and my appearence of being "stood up" gave them something to talk about. What is gossip really? Gossip is just a way for people to avoid dealing with their own issues, by talking about others. Which leads me to...
- Don't let what you think other people are thinking hold you back or intimidate you
- The only limitations we have on our happiness are those which are self imposed. For the last several Valentine's Day's I was sad. Lets say I continued that pattern for the rest of my life... say another 73 years. Now, by making the choice to be happy on V-Day I get 73 more days of happiness in my life that's over two additional months!!
- You have choices, we get to choose to smile or frown, laugh or sulk... sure there are circumstances in life where Sh** happens and we can't have sunshine and rainbows all the time, but for the majority of it... the choice is ours.
- Enjoy the pics,
- Carpe Diem