Table for One: The Power of Dining Out Alone (The Art of Overcoming Your Fears)

Everywhere I go, Italy finds me, and London was no exception. Without even realizing it, I had chosen a Chelsea apartment down the street from an Italian deli and several Italian restaurants, including a pizzeria.

This post isn’t a restaurant review, nor is it about pizza directly (though it sure was great, my favorite style of pizza, Napoletana). It’s about how little acts of courage can change your life, and how a pizza helped me do exactly that.

On February 28, 2020 I walked into Rossopomodoro in Chelsea, London and I asked for a table for one, and it changed my life.

There has been one thing that’s been holding me back from achieving my dreams: ME.

I recently found a book called The Perfectionism Workbook and it suggests giving yourself little challenges that may be unrelated to your big fears that serve the purpose of gradually lessening your major fear triggers. In other words, getting used to being uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable.

You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot choose both.

Brené Brown

For me, one of those fears is being alone. There’s the “big bad wolf fear” of ending up alone in longterm solitude, and then there’s spider-sized fear of doing certain things alone like dining out at a restaurant.

And so I gave myself the challenge to dine alone ON PURPOSE and the pizza Napoletana was the carrot I dangled in front of myself. 😂

I have to admit, I walked by the restaurant several times, nonchalantly glancing in the window. They had just opened, and the dining room was still empty. I couldn’t be alone, alone. I mean, I didn’t want any fellow diners to notice that I was alone, but being completely alone in a restaurant was even more awkward, wasn’t it? Couldn’t I just forget this silly little idea of dining alone? I didn’t HAVE to do it, after all. Nobody would ever know if I gave up and just walked away. I paced by the restaurant a few more times, dancing around the idea of whether or not to open that door. Eventually, there were two couples in the dining room (a great reminder that I was alone, lol), but I held my breath and opened the door.

I’m not sure why I have avoided dining alone for so long. I thought it would be like walking into a room naked, too exposed, and I don’t like to draw that type of attention to myself. And what would I do? Stare into space or into my phone? For me, part of the joy of dining is not just the food, but sharing the moment and conversation with others, creating memories together.

You know what? Nobody cares if you are alone. If they do, it’s their problem. And I thought the meal would be less memorable because I’d have no one to talk to, no memories to create. But I remember vividly watching the rain, people walking by, and the pizzaioli tossing the dough. It felt good to do something by myself, for myself, to know that I can just be with myself – to know that this little act of courage was one step towards conquering the big things.

Once you tackle those little fears, they can’t control you anymore. Little acts of courage cultivate confidence to achieve your big dreams.

In fact, as I left the pizzeria, a gentleman came in to dine da solo. I wasn’t the only one. And that’s why I’m sharing this – if there’s some fear you need to overcome (even if it’s not dining alone) – you’re not the only one.

If dining out alone doesn’t make you even bat an eye, then you are one of the people I admire and who gave me the courage that I can do it too. (Special shoutout to my friend Ishita of Italophilia – check out her post, Tips for Solo Female Travel in Italy for inspiration).

Even if you are a confident solo diner, I hope that this post inspires you to tackle one of your fears, starting with a little one. Do something you have never done before. It will change your life.

I dined out alone again in Portofino, and this was my view. I could have missed this memory with myself. Now I know, there is no fear that I can’t overcome because I can just be with myself, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

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Ciao, I'm Kelly!

Welcome to my adventures in learning Italian, often while cooking authentic Italian recipes and wine tasting! I love discovering the traditional regional cuisine of Italy and trying to recreate those dishes when I'm back home in the US. I'm also on my way to becoming an Italian citizen through jure sanguinis (by ancestry).

WSET Level 2 Certified Wine Blogger

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Kelly
1 month ago

This a lovely post Kelly. We’re terrible with the alone thing. As twins usually doing something ‘on our own’ means the two of us on our own, which probably sounds crazy but that’s the way it’s always been. While in America we learnt to go shopping actually on our own without each other, but then would always talk to ourselves and feel like people would think we were crazy. Lucy conquered a big one last year and went to the cinema on her own which she said she really enjoyed. I will have to try it! Proud of you for… Read more »

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