Everyone knows lunch is an integral part of primary school. Sitting with certain groups of people declares them as your friends for the next however many years before college, and you will never be able to escape that association. Your lunch friends transform into the people you do group projects with, the people you go to prom with and the people who attend your graduation party. Who you sit with at lunch determines a significant portion of your future.
What is worse is when you have nobody to sit with. You walk into the cafeteria, lunchbox in hand, looking hopefully at every table you pass. Nobody looks back. But at least there is an empty table in the corner by the band room. If you’re going to sit alone, you might as well sit where no one will notice you.
But to you, the student who eats lunch alone, I have a few things to say. The first is I hope you’re eating a real lunch. A sandwich, fruit, a cheese stick, not just half a bag of crushed potato chips or the second Pop Tart from your breakfast this morning. Real food is important.
Second, you probably spend every lunch with your head down. Maybe you don’t even sit in the cafeteria anymore, but instead, convince the librarians or a favorite teacher to let you sit with them. Either way, you have either grown or simply felt apart from your classmates for a long time. You also probably think you’re abnormal or alone in this feeling. Trust me, you are not.
Maybe there are no kids just like you in your school, and that’s fine. What fun would it be, being the odd kid out, when there are so many others, too? However, there are kids like you in other schools. In every school, really. It’s just that you haven’t met them yet.
Which brings me to my third point: you are alone now, but you will not always be alone. Whether you eat alone because everyone hates you, or because you hate everyone, or because you’re sick of trying to get along with people who don’t really care, take solace in the fact that you will not eat alone forever. Somewhere along the course of your life, you will meet someone who spent his or her days the same way you did. You will meet someone who knows what it feels like to walk into a cafeteria full of people you have known since kindergarten and feel like you don’t really know any of them at all.
It may happen on your first day of college. It may happen three years into your first post-grad job. It may happen at the height of your career. No matter how many years it takes, I promise you, someday you will not be alone – provided you don’t move into an abandoned house in the middle of a huge forest and become a hermit.
I know that right now, sitting alone at that lunch table, it seems as though the universe has declared you One True Bearer of Loneliness and Isolation. It all seems so permanent, so inescapable. But just wait. Just wait, learn to live with your own company, and eventually all that loneliness and isolation, that lunch table in the corner by the band room, will be replaced with at least one person who really, truly cares and understands you. All it takes is patience and a little bit of strength.