I’m So Glad I Got Over Being Embarrassed To Do Things Alone in Public

IntrovertDear.com INFJ alone in public

I’ve never had a problem with being alone. On the contrary, as an introvert and an INFJ personality type, I need alone time for my sanity, and I thoroughly enjoy it. But what I never realized was that for a long time, when I thought of being alone, what I meant was being alone at home. Or in any case, some place where I felt safe and comfortable.

When I went on my first true solo trip to Australia several years ago, I realized there’s a whole other kind of being alone. When you’re forced to do things by yourself that you would usually do in company, it creates a very different kind of loneliness. Because now, everyone can see that you are alone — and they can judge you for it. I suddenly worried that people would think I was weird for being all by myself.

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I still remember the first time I went to the movies all on my own. The employee at the counter looked at me pitifully, as though wondering if I didn’t have any friends that would go with me. When taking my seat, I constantly wondered what the other movie-goers thought of me sitting there all by myself. Only once the film started I managed to relax, because then it became irrelevant whether I was alone or not. I even found I quite enjoyed watching it by myself. It released me from the burden of having to utter an opinion as soon as the credits started rolling.

Maybe it was for that reason that I repeated the experience. Eventually, I stopped caring so much about what other people thought, and it even seemed like people stopped looking at me strangely. Maybe I only imagined they were looking at me pitifully and I got over feeling self-conscious. Or I got so used to their looks  that I quit noticing them. Either way, it has become something I quite enjoy doing occasionally, and not only when I’m abroad.

Eating in a Restaurant Alone Was Harder

However, there are other solo activities that did not come as easily for me. One of them was going to restaurants alone. That was a lot harder, because there’s no film that starts playing, plunging you into darkness and taking your mind off worrying about what everyone else thinks. In a restaurant, your aloneness is publicly exposed the whole time. I was so worried of what people would think of me that I avoided going out to eat by myself for years.

It was only recently that I became more comfortable with dining by myself, and again it happened through solo travel. At home, it would never have occurred to me to eat out without company. But when I was in Barcelona last year, I decided it was time to overcome that fear. After all, I couldn’t go to Spain and miss out on all the great food only because I was too scared to enter a restaurant, could I? Still, the first time I was about to walk inside one and ask for a table for one, I felt miserable. What would the waiter think? The other customers? It surely would be embarrassing!

Turns out, they didn’t think anything of it at all. No one shot me a weird look even once. Waiters were just as nice to me as they were to anyone else, and other guests were more concerned with their own matters than with worrying about me. By and by, I got more comfortable dining on my own. I carried a book with me, and when I started feeling uncomfortable because I didn’t know what to do while waiting for my food, I got it out and read. It helped take my mind off the fact that everybody around me had someone to converse with. When the food arrived, I just concentrated on eating. Dining alone means being able to truly enjoy the flavors without being distracted by conversation.

Sometimes, I would watch the other people, listening to them talking in a language I didn’t understand, and being simply happy to be in a strange city all on my own, with the freedom to eat whenever and wherever. As an INFJ, I can sometimes be almost paralyzed with the fear of what others will think of me. But needing time for myself is an integral part of my personality, and not something I need to be ashamed of. In fact, I believe it is because I’m an introvert that I can enjoy doing these activities by myself so much. Rather than being embarrassed of doing something alone, I’ve come to appreciate my ability to enjoy my own company.

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an INFJ Personality Type


  • M. says:

    I love doing stuff like this on my own. Going to the movies. Eating alone. Go to museums alone. Although it’s heaps of fun to do this with other people, there’s something special in not having anyone’s expectations to live up to (“What did you think of the movie?”, “Haven’t you finished looking at that painting”, etc.). I once even experienced going to the movies and be the absolutely only one watching that specific movie. I was all alone among all those empty chairs. I could laugh as loud as I wanted to. I could look at my phone. FREEDOM! That was fun. Doing things by oneself can be quite a different and fun experience as well as doing those things with other! Just embrace both of them!

    • LT says:

      Agreed!! It took me awhile to expose myself eating alone in public, so at one point I pushed myself to get used to it. After that goal was met, I gradually got comfortable creating solo activities (seeing a movie, visiting the park, bicycling, exploring a book store/library, renting a movie and watching it at home). But I must say that it’s a huge adjustment for me to overcome not attending particular events without friends around. After I cut 2 best friends out of my life who were really fake friends taking advantage of me, my circle of friends has diminished greatly to the point of myself doing things alone; and that’s okay. We aren’t meant to all be extraverts, but rather different anyways to create harmony all together in hopeful matters. Accepting and embracing ourselves as we uniquely are can promote more freedom and capabilities that we may not have thought we actually could do on our own. Although it can feel like a nuisance to experience, it is worthwhile to enjoy those simple moments.

  • njguy54 says:

    The thing to keep in mind when doing things alone is that most people aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing and aren’t judging you (as long as you’re not in obvious distress or making a spectacle of yourself). They’re involved in what they’re doing, so there’s little need to be self-conscious.

    Of course, many activities don’t lend themselves well to solo participation, but in other cases, I would often much rather be by myself and have a good book (or my phone, which I use largely as an e-reader) as a companion than have to feel like I need to entertain someone.

    Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but I do notice more people going to restaurants, movies and other “social” activities alone. I’d like to think that these are fellow introverts who are doing their thing without worrying about what everyone around them thinks.

  • Lauren Teresa Smith says:

    Insightful advice! A good reminder of where I too am at. Thanks!

  • Lauren Teresa Smith says:

    Insightful! A good reminder of where I too am at. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Madlen Arslan says:

    I’m also an INFJ and I recognize that feeling when eating at a restaurant alone for the first time. I had troubles doing that too at first, but when I studied abroad in Valencia and actually got hungry I didn’t care for what others would think. I simply stepped into a restaurant and asked for a table, only for me. They did like you just mentioned, being as nice to me as to others and I simply enjoyed my food. =)

  • Muhammad Khairul says:

    A great read up!! I worried soo much about what people around me think that makes me feel weird about doing and travelling alone, till i started backpacking. It really open me up to do things and eat in restaurant alone. So all of you who worries so much about what people thinks of u being alone, just shove that feelings aside and starting enjoying ur time alone before you are tied with any commitments!!

  • JB says:

    awesome read. thanks. i have found, over the years, that these little victories are monumental. I’ve even taught and encouraged others to be truly alone with oneself and to enjoy it. For me, the trick has always been to take it slow, one hurdle at a time. And keep at it. Travel is a real help