When I first came to college, I was blown away by how many people ate alone in the dining halls. Honestly, I used to judge those people until I became one of them.
I used to think people eating alone had no friends. I believed they were lonely, and no one wanted to eat with them. I was way wrong.
The first time I ate alone, I was uncomfortable. I remember sitting at one of the tables and just watching everyone look at me. Even if we made slight eye contact, I thought they were judging the crap out of me. I believed they were making their assumptions just like I did.
I have friends, however, I ate alone because I was hungry and my friends were busy. In a way, I was kind of forced to eat alone, but it has since become a normal thing.
I realized there's nothing wrong with eating alone. Sometimes it's nice to have "me time," and think about everything you need to do for school, or even just self-reflect.
The more I ate alone, the more I realized tons of people on campus do it. Most of the time we are sitting there with our laptops out, a notebook next to it, and a pencil in our hands. Some of us are watching Netflix while others of us are getting caught up on school work and/or studying for an upcoming exam.
Being surrounded by people like you are in college can sometimes be draining. Even if you're an extrovert. Sometimes being able to sit down with your own thoughts and get campus food can be kind of relaxing (weird, I know). It's just you, your stuff, and your food.
I learned eating alone in college is totally OK, and often times even needed. College and life in general can be tough, so having 30 minutes of your own time is nice.
Next time you see someone eating alone, try it for yourself. I stopped caring about what other people were thinking about eating alone, and it doesn't even phase me when I notice someone looking at me. Take some you time. It's OK.