Table for One

woman at small table staring out the window

Ten years ago, I was invited to New York to lead a training class for the American Management Association. I had three school-aged children at that time and I’d been working part time, but felt unfulfilled and exhausted from those early motherhood years. I jumped at the chance to travel alone, envisioning myself to be Marlo Thomas from the television show, That Girl. There is an iconic scene in the beginning of that show where the young, single, career woman (Thomas) throws her beanie into the air in a moment of joyful, independent womanhood. That was sure to be me as I arrived in Manhattan, ready to take on my first trip alone.

It didn’t occur to me that I wasn’t Marlo Thomas, in that I was older than her, married, had three young children, and had never traveled without my family. Plus, I don’t own a beanie. My glorious road to freedom was suddenly feeling a bit scary and maybe not as thrilling as I had originally assumed. I grew up in a generation where women didn’t really travel alone very often and business trips were predominately for men. We are only a couple of generations past a world that didn’t allow women to be alone in public . . . ever.

My feminist adventure was a new one for me and apparently not as easy as Marlo Thomas made it look. After walking, shopping, and people-watching, I was ready for a nice dinner in Manhattan and realized that I had never in my life uttered the words, “Table for one.” Although I love to spend time by myself, I usually did it in my own home, with my nose in a book. I had never walked into a busy restaurant and had a meal on my own. It felt uncomfortable for me to do so.

Sitting at that first dinner by myself wasn’t so great. I had talked myself into being sad and lonely. I missed my husband and my kids. This was an adventure that would have been more fun with them or with some of my girlfriends. I single handedly made that dinner an unhappy one and I walked back to my hotel feeling sorry for myself. Since then I have taken many solo business trips and admittedly the first few were similar to the first. “Table for one” was code for me feeling sorry for myself and only thinking of how alone and lonely I was.

Changing Our Point-of-View

Then one day I realized that I got to choose how to look at that table for one. I could see it as a sign of my loneliness or I could see it as freedom, adventure, and time with myself. I started to relish those dinners for one and look forward to them as I said goodbye to my beautiful family. Those dinners were my time. I people-watched, I reflected on life, I read a great book without interruption, and I learned that a table for one can be the best table in the house.

We get to choose how we see life. The situation doesn’t change, but our lens in viewing it does. #perspective Click To Tweet

And so it goes with everything in life. We get to choose how we see it. We can see misery or we can see hope. We can feel loneliness or we can feel freedom. We can choose problems or we can see possibilities. The situation doesn’t change, but our lens in viewing it does. Maybe a table for one doesn’t sound like a challenge to you, but it was for me. What situations in your life could you switch the lens on and see an opportunity versus a problem? Let me know how you do.


Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. CPC

Lisa Kaplin Psy. D. PCC

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by Dr. Lisa Kaplin
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About Lisa Kaplin, Psy. D, PCC

headshot of Lisa KaplinCertified Life Coach and Psychologist at Smart Women Inspired Lives.

I’m the proud owner of Smart Women Inspired Lives, where I help overwhelmed and exhausted women move from the feeling of being “stuck” into a life filled with calm, confidence, and joy. In addition to the posts and articles I write, I offer individual and group life coaching sessions, classes and speaking engagement opportunities.


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Curious Versus Defensive I’ve Been Me For A Long Time
Curious Versus Defensive
I’ve Been Me For A Long Time

Comments to “Table for One”

  1. I think being independent has alot to do with being comfortable as well. I’ve been independent all my life, and it’s never bothered me. While all my friends were buying cars after high school, I booked a two week tour of Europe wirhout a second thought. I was only 19. My soon to be husband decided to meet me there after the fact, but doing things on my own has always been a joy. I spent 10 days in Norway by myself to run a marathon and owned the adventure, eating by myself and experiencing the food, environment, I was in heaven. Kids were with the grandparents and husband was working. Once in a life time 😊.

    • Administrator

      Lisa, Agreed. I think some people are more naturally independant than others. You had some amazing adventures!