Having recently moved somewhere new by myself, my iPhone has become my best friend - keeping me company when TV is crappy, when I'm waiting at the bus stop, while I'm grabbing a coffee.
It seems any time I'm by myself for a moment I feel the need to check my phone... you know, just in case a tonne of emails, messages and missed calls have come in in the 60 seconds since I last checked it.
I think in reality, it's more about keeping busy and not looking like a loner in those moments by yourself.
After complaining about my increased dependency on this little palm-sized device, I was set the challenge to go out to dinner - no phone, no book, no friend, just me.
In the 24 hours leading up to the "night without my phone" challenge I got a little anxious - not because I haven't spent an evening without my phone, more so because somebody told me I had to.
"I mean, it's for a story, so it could be fun. I'll take a few photos... oh wait, nope, can't do that."
"I'll just jot down in my Notes how I'm feeling while out... oh nope, can't do that. Does it count if I pull out an old school notepad instead?"
Having become so used to keeping my fingers busy typing, scrolling or turning pages, I wondered if I would suddenly succumb to the fascination of fidget spinners.
As soon as I left the office for the day, the challenge began.
For the bus trip out of the city, I would normally be glued to my phone, checking emails, but this time round, I noticed things - the guy on his phone, the singing child, the woman annoyed by said singing child who kept giving the family dirty stares.
Getting off the bus, I thought "shall I go to dinner now, or go home and drive back to the main strip in case of rain later? Is it going to rain later? Ooh I'll just check the weath... oh no!"
Looking up at the sky, old school style, I noticed the stars twinkling above "clear skies then this evening I guess?".
But where to eat? Normally I'd Google the best spot for whatever I'm craving, this time I had to just take a punt.
Walking into a small Italian restaurant and asking for a "table for one please" was a little intimidating because there were only couples in there. Hmmm, so it's not exactly the place to make conversation with strangers on the next table.
After being seated next to a loved up pair, I didn't just read the menu, I study it.
I take as long as possible to analyse every ingredient in every dish listed on the one-page menu in an effort to stretch out the dinner to a reasonable amount of time.
As I wait for my dinner I find myself eavesdropping a little on other people's conversations but I’m unsure where exactly to look.
Despite the slow mid-week trade, I feel eyes on me.
I notice chefs in the open kitchen peering out at the restaurant and looking at me with a mix of pity and surprise as I continue to look around the room.
I notice the music, how bad my glass of wine is (my fault for choosing something cheap) and how being still and by myself wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.
I mean, it's not my first rodeo.
I’ve dined out by myself before but I'll often go to brunch and pour over the newspaper or flick through a magazine and the idea of knowing I'm not allowed to do any of that made me think I'd be tapping my nails on the table impatiently.
I ordered the house special pizza and perhaps I subconsciously knew a woodfire pizza would be quicker than ordering something like a well-done steak, so the waiting around period wasn't too long or too bad.
But after my food arrived, I was surprised by how much time I spent looking down at my plate, unsure of where else to look after 15 minutes of gazing around the small space.
"Is this bite too big? Yes, it's too big, I should cut that in half."
"Is there enough rocket on my fork?"
"Wow, this prosciutto is so thin. I wonder if they slice it themselves."
"Oooh...is that a crumb on my skirt?"
I was hyper aware and pouring over every morsel on my plate.
As I ate, more diners arrived.
I noticed as soon as one man was left alone at his table, out came his phone to keep him company (yay, I'm not alone!)
I also noticed him glancing at me like I was some kind of weirdo for not doing the same and I saw out of my peripheral vision when his friend came back to the table from the bathroom, he made a face while leaning his head towards me.
I had expected something like this to happen. I thought I would feel really awkward and uncomfortable. Instead, I had to stifle a laugh. It's actually quite comical when you think it's now not only socially acceptable to be glued to your phone at the dinner table but almost strange if you're not.
I enjoy people watching while on holidays (I mean, who doesn't!?!) but I've never thought to do it in my own city.
Dinner was done and dusted in 30 minutes - much faster than it might have been if I had company but it certainly felt much longer than half an hour.
The rest of the evening was easy enough. I think I was able to unwind and felt sleepy enough by a decent hour, rather than scrolling through social media late into the evening, just because.
But again the next morning as I got ready for work how was I to know what to wear?
"It's sunny but how cold is it outside right now?" I thought, about to check my trusty weather app. Oh no, not yet. No phone till I get back into the office.
Half an hour later: "It's so sunny, I should get the ferry to work today. I wonder what time the next one is?" Not so fast! That's on an app too.
By the time I got into the office, I wasn't dying to check my phone... and when I did, I realised how little I had actually missed.
However, the whole experience did make me appreciate what an impact smartphones have had on our lives and just how integrated they are in our day-to-day.
I've spent many an evening at home with my phone plugged into the charger and tucked away in another room and I haven't missed it. But maybe now I'll try to unplug over dinner once in awhile too - even if just to laugh at people making faces about how odd I seem.
This was originally published on 9Honey and has been reproduced here with permission.