I have always considered myself a shy person. I am attracted to “take charge” extroverts and was always happy to let them be my front person. New people I met rarely remembered me or, if they did, I was so-and-sos friend. Traveling, or even dining solo, is something I always tried to avoid. I didn’t want to have to interact with strangers or wonder what they were thinking of me.
Over the years, I learned that my “shyness” comes from being an introvert. Some still think that being an introvert is a negative thing, but no, it doesn’t mean I don’t like people or I’m antisocial. It just means I enjoy my alone time. I didn’t realize how much of an introvert I was until I read this article on Psychology Today that says you might be an introvert if:
- Although you enjoy social get-togethers, quiet time to yourself is very important
- You do your best thinking alone, outside of group meetings and discussions
- If put in a leadership position, you do best when the group members are self-starters
- You are the last to raise your hand in a group and are happy to let others take center stage
- You keep your views to yourself and let the extroverts take control
- You avoid interacting with strangers by keeping your head down and looking straight ahead
- You avoid engaging with, or even looking at, people who seem angry
- You don’t reach out voluntarily to your social circles
- You don’t initiate small talk with people you meet casually
Wow, so many of these things hit home. I love my alone time and never feel lonely or bored. I NEVER raised my hand in school. I pretty much keep my opinions to myself, especially on social media. I admire my friends who always remember birthdays, etc., and just call to say hi, because I rarely do. Not because I don’t miss them or want to talk to them, I just don’t reach out. I still have a hard time interacting with strangers and initiating small talk. And I’ve already mentioned how easy it is for me to let the extroverts take center stage.
Practicing a Little Extroversion
When I became a blogger, I knew I had to begin to change some things. I had to start talking to strangers! I worked at it and got a little better when I was doing pet blogging but, when I moved to Gold Country three years ago, I fell back into my old habits and let the extroverts take charge.
After a few outings, I realized this wasn’t working very well because I would let them take over and, inevitably, they would derail the conversation. Once again, I needed to put my big girl pants on and figure out how best to get the information I needed for my blog posts. I found it was easier to do this without my front person along. It only took a few wine tasting outings and interviews by myself for me to start realizing the benefits and enjoying being solo.
Benefits of Being Solo
Some advantages of being solo are that I can:
- lead the conversation in the direction I need for the blog
- engage with staff and other customers
- meet interesting people
- concentrate on the wine, food or whatever I am doing
- be totally felxible
Dining Solo on My Birthday
When I learned that none of my friends would be available to go to dinner with me on my birthday, I did not dismay. I decided where I wanted to go — my new favorite place to eat in Amador County, the Imperial Hotel — and I made a reservation for one. I prefer to say I dined solo rather than alone because, to me, “alone” sounds lonely while “solo” is by choice.
I arrived about a half hour before my dinner reservation and had a cosmopolitan in the bar where I chatted with the bartender, Conner. This was not my first cosmo at the Imperial as evidenced by this Instagram post from June.
When I went in to dinner, I had the dining room almost entirely to myself since it was early Sunday evening. I decided rather than have someone take my photo, I would set up one of my phone cameras on a tripod so I could take lots of pictures. I used my remote control and tried not to look awkward in the photos. Not easily done! I really don’t like photos of myself but it was a good opportunity to practice with my remote.
I ordered a glass of the wonderful Dillian Zinfandel I had there with my lamb dinner a couple of weeks ago and sipped on it while I contemplated the menu. Since I had already tried my top two favorite dishes, the lamb and duck, and had made myself steak at home the night before, I decided to have the pork tenderloin which is mustard dredged and served with a Gorgonzola sauce. Pork is my favorite meat to cook at home.
What birthday dinner would be complete without dessert? I don’t do sweets very often since I started eating a ketogenic diet in January, but it was my birthday, after all. So many delicious sounding things to choose from. I’ve been obsessed lately with ice cream floats (made with no sugar added ice cream and diet soda) so I decided on the Imperial Float. Wowza! It was delicious and potent.
Service at the Imperial has always been super-friendly and efficient. My server, Lindsey was no exception to that. She was a delight to talk to and made my birthday evening spent dining solo fun and memorable.
More Thoughts on Going Solo
The moral to this story is, don’t let the thought of going solo hold you back from doing something fun and interesting. Push your comfort zone a little. Instead of spending my birthday at home by myself, I had a fabulous dining experience with interesting conversations.
If you want to give dining solo a try but are still apprehensive, there are a couple of things you can do to make it a little easier. Take a book to read so you have something to do while you sit there. I used to take my earbuds and iPad when I knew I might have to wait at a restaurant for a while when meeting up with a friend. These days, I’m usually on social media, probably posting to Instagram.
Are you an extrovert who is comfortable in most any social situation or are you an introvert who would rather not interact with strangers? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.