It’s taken me a while to figure this out, but I don’t like eating out.
Just as it has taken a while to realize this, it has also taken time to determine why I don’t like eating out at restaurants.
The realization came to me when a friend casually mentioned a restaurant that was still open, but wasn’t advertising that fact.
Kind of a clandestine, word-of-mouth situation. If people knew the right people, they could find out where to go if they wanted to eat out and sit in an actual restaurant to dine.
I found myself suddenly worried that my partner would ask if I wanted to eat out. When that realization dawned in my conscious mind, as an HSP who deeply ponders pretty much every conscious thought that rises, I wondered where it had come from.
Why was I suddenly hesitant at the thought of eating out? After all, I’d dined at restaurants plenty of times in the past.
But it occurred to me that COVID-19 and the resultant inability to eat in restaurants has actually felt like a relief to me.
If you consider yourself a highly sensitive person, maybe the lack of options to eat out has felt the same for you.
When reflecting on it, I came up with three reasons as to why I’m content without the chance to eat out at restaurants.
I feel uncomfortable having people wait on me
Naturally, it’s the job of serving staff at a restaurant to wait on patrons. That’s why they have traditionally been called waiters and waitresses.
But it has always made me feel a little bit uncomfortable having a person wait on me. Having a person serve me.
It just never felt right. At home, if I want something, I’ll get up and get it myself. A glass of water or more ice tea. Having another person serving me just goes against my HSP grain … I’m still not sure why.
I don’t feel comfortable eating in public
Honestly, I have no idea if this is an HSP thing or not, but I don’t like eating in public.
This could have something to do with a job I had as a teenager that involved me being dressed up in outlandish clothes and makeup.
Whenever I went for lunch break in the mall where I worked, I would get stares … lots of them. I hated it and usually ended up not eating at all because I couldn’t handle the attention.
Even though it’s been years since I held that job, I still sometimes feel like, as soon as I sit down to eat, people are watching me.
I don’t like making orders
Whether it is standing at the counter at a fast-food eatery, or ordering from a menu at a casual sit-down diner, this is my least favorite part of eating out.
Especially when I need to order for a group, such as my family. And for some reason, it always feels like I’m the one expected to gather and take the order for the group I’m with.
Every person’s indecision or every extra minute they take to decide what to eat weighs on me. I feel like I’m holding up the line (and sometimes I am, when at an ordering counter) and can feel the glares of everyone behind me … whether or not they really are glaring.
More often than not, I feel like I make a mistake with the order. This might not actually happen, but it feels that way.
The stress of making a food order is something I would rather do without … and I don’t have to worry about it when the restaurants are closed due to COVID-19.
I don’t like spending money when I can save it
I consider myself an okay cook … a pretty good one, in fact.
I’m no chef, but I can fix a variety of passable dishes … from lasagna to spaghetti (with homemade sauce and hand-rolled meatballs), from chicken and coconut curry to chicken pot pie with homemade crust.
Like anyone, I enjoy indulging on the occasional burger and fries (ahem … and milkshake), but when I eat at a sit-down restaurant and end up with a huge bill, I can’t help but thinking to myself, “I could have made this at home for a fraction of the cost.”
This likely has to do with my background and upbringing … when we ate out so seldom that visiting my aunt and uncle in another town was the best news ever because it meant I would get a trip to Wendy’s or McDonald’s.
To this day, eating out in my perspective remains something to do on a special occasion. Restaurant eating too often wastes both the pocketbook and the taste buds.
No Restaurants? No Problem!
Now, if COVID-19 ended tomorrow and all the restaurants opened again, I would probably eat out. I might even enjoy it … for the most part.
But I do appreciate this time — this distance, if I could call it that — as an opportunity to gain some clarity about this difficulty I have with eating out, and the reasons why.
I think it will help in the future when someone says, “Hey, let’s eat out,” and I feel that immediate hesitation. It’s not that I’ll turn down the offer … but I might find a table in the corner and insist that someone else make the order.