In this weeks newsletter I talked a little bit about eating out in public and how complex this can be if your brain’s a bit of a twat like mine. I found myself wanting to say so much more on the subject as it’s been one of my biggest anxieties growing up and I know a bunch of you feel the same way.
1. Not being able to sit where you want
This is the biggest peeve of mine when it comes to eating in public with social anxiety. I prefer my back to the wall or a corner seat where I can see everything in the restaurant. Having my back to the room is uncomfortable as fuck but being in the middle of the restaurant, so close to another table that I feel like I’m basically sat on someone else’s lap, is an anxiety attack just waiting to happen.
2. Having to get up and help yourself
Now here’s my problem.. I’m a sucker for a buffet. All you can eat? What’s not to like about that?! Other than not being able to take a huge plate and the fact you have to keep getting out of your seat for food. It’s also not very enjoyable when nobody else can eat as much as you and you feel like a big piggy going up on your own for the 15th time. Not to mention helping yourself to anything makes me feel really cheeky, even if I’ve paid for the privilege.
3. Sharing food (aka Tapas)
Again, I love me some tapas. Get me on those patatas bravas!!! I just hate eating them with a big group of people. I don’t like sharing my food at the best of times (If I share food with you, likelihood is that I’d take a bullet for you too) but feeling like you can’t take as much as you want, awkwardly waiting for everyone to take their share not knowing if you should go next, not being able to just eat your food when it arrives… there are logistics to sharing food with a big group of people and my anxiety is not on board with any of it. Just let me have my own food and piss off.
4. Ordering from the menu
I really dislike having to order food and not just because I forget what to say but sometimes the names of the dishes on the menu are just plain obnoxious. “Can I please have the Foot Long Super Sized Monster Dog with a side of Cheeky Chips?!” Umm… no!!
How about I just point at the food I want or instead maybe just name a hotdog a hotdog!
5. Having to find the toilet
I don’t know WHY exactly but having to find the toilet in a restaurant or pub if I can’t see it in plain view is horrendous. I just hold my pee in like the dickhead I am, or I wait until someone else is going and pretend they’ve just reminded me that I need to go too.
6. Asking for more drinks
Calling someone over to take another drinks order isn’t fun. Do I stare awkwardly at the staff until someone sees me? Do I wait for someone to walk past and grab their attention? Or do I flail my arms in the air in the hope that someone notices me?
7. Being seated on ridiculous seats
Bar stools are my enemy, especially in restaurants where the waitress/waiter is standing there holding the menus, gawking at you while you try and mount this insanely tall chair.. slipping and sliding all over the fucking place trying to perfect your balance! It sucks. Then by the time you’ve climbed onto the chair, you have no idea how to shuffle it closer to the table, so you sit about a meter away from your food, getting a bad back every time you reach for a bite.
Other seats I feel embarrassed to sit in are those awkwardly low seats with an even lower table so you have to lean over to eat your food… or those horrible tiny plastic seats you can barely fit your arse in. Just give me a normal chair with a normal table so I don’t look like a bloody hippo trying to balance on a yoga-fucking-ball.
8. Sitting in close proximity to other diners
When the tables are so close you can hear Susan talking to her husband Dave, about the second cousin of her friend at work and you know that DEFINITELY means they can hear everything you say, so not only do you have to whisper your conversation, you now have to go and bloody chew quieter as well.
9. People seeing you eat
Why do we hate that so much? Why is eating in front of someone so weird and embarrassing? I’ve been known to cover my mouth with my hand as I chew, even though I chew with my mouth closed.. so what am I even worried about? My chin looking stupid? I don’t know.
10. Getting food on yourself
Always ordering non-messy food when you eat in public, even though you really want the ribs or spaghetti because you’re afraid of getting the sauce everywhere.
So there you have it. Eating in public with Social Anxiety isn’t the easiest of activities but don’t let it stop you! If you need some ideas to challenge your anxiety, try some of these.