Of course, it's always nice to be able to sit down to a meal with friends, the more the merrier, and chat about the joys and stresses of everyday college life. However, sometimes that's just not possible. With classes, clubs, work, you name it, your schedule may not align with everyone else's, or even anyone else's!
There arises a crisis for many people. Do I dare go to the dining hall... alone? What would I do to occupy myself? Would I be judged by the rest of the people there, all merrily chatting with their friends? Where would I look? Certainly not around at other people, because that would be weird... There are so many fears associated with eating alone, but I am here to break the stigma.
In terms of my eating habits, I tend to eat breakfast and dinner with other people, but lunch is a different story. I have class during the designated lunch hour, so that's never an option, and by the time I'm out of class, my friends have finished their lunches and returned to class. So, most days, I eat lunch alone.
Honestly, it rocks. I'm not going to praise eating alone for every meal, because that does get a little depressing and lonely, but once a day is just fine by me. I'll bring some work with me, the book I'm reading for pleasure, or even just my phone, to be honest.
And no, I don't enjoy mindlessly scrolling through Facebook while I eat, because to me that is a sad way to spend a meal, even when already alone. What I opt for instead is the news. While I eat my meal, I catch up on the latest scandal within the Trump administration or take a look at National Geographic's new photographic adventure into underwater caves. Unfortunately, the news is seldom positive, but it provides constructive reading while I eat my chicken.
As you'll often have to do when looking at a screen for a long time, I take breaks and look around. I don't creepily stare at anyone else or eavesdrop (though some people admit enjoying that), but I scan the room, take in my environment, learn to respect the fact that this meal is time to myself, without bother.
Eating alone is even necessary, I argue. At college, among all the responsibilities and stimulation we are receiving constantly, wanted or not, there's seldom time to take a break. When you eat with other people, at petty as it sounds, you have to focus on asking them questions, striking conversation, keeping back those awkward silences.
But when you eat alone, you don't have to worry about keeping up conversation. All you have to worry about is fueling yourself for the remainder of a busy day and taking some time to just breathe. Get some tea, sip it slowly. Digest within the pages of a good book (or Facebook, if that's truly the only way you roll).
Don't worry about what others think of you, because chances are, if you take a quick glance around the dining hall, there are many single diners just like you. Think of yourself with distant company, all alone together, taking a moment to just be... and eat. It's quite nice.