Enjoy Eating Alone!

Yes, is does happen — people eat alone in college. Sometimes it’s a great break from the craziness of each day when you can frequent the local campus spots for some grub and alone time to recharge. For many students, the days of a 50-person hall dinner or group meet-up from SPOP are long gone and sometimes all our friends are too busy to join us for a meal.

Eating alone is not a bad thing though. Sometimes it’s a necessity and a breath of fresh air. When you try to pack your schedule and spend your only free time to catch up with all your friends, those half hour lunch or coffee breaks leave you feeling in even more of a rush. Then you hurry off, out of breath and in a frenzy to get the rest of your work done. On days like these, it’s better to just spend some time by yourself and not worry about judgmental gazes from others when you’re getting food by yourself.

If eating alone is a part of our busy lifestyles, then why does it seem frowned upon? Sometimes, we wonder if we get dirty looks while we sit by ourselves at a restaurant table or dining hall, so we eagerly scroll through our news feed, post on Instagram and keep busy while we eat alone. Normally, eating is a social experience and with our media-driven and college student atmosphere we are expected to always post our latest hangouts and get-togethers.

The reality is that as college students we don’t have all the time in the world to wait for meals with our friends. Although we may have that 50-minute block on Wednesdays free for lunch dates, sometimes we would rather spend it eating alone so we can relax in Aldrich Park, take a nap and recharge.

The problem is that we are self-conscious and many people think society will deem us as “awkward friendless losers” if we get caught eating alone. Most people though are actually too busy worrying about themselves than thinking about someone sitting at a table alone. It takes a degree of comfortableness to eat and do things by yourself. It’s also a great way to clear your mind and prepare for the long week ahead.

Whether out of necessity or time, I, like many other college students, eat alone every once in a while. As I sat alone at the lunch tables once, I realized the freedom of eating by myself. I was able to enjoy my food more, spend time on my phone responding to emails and actually enjoy not having to worry about carrying a conversation while munching on my burrito.

For those who aren’t quite ready to sit and enjoy a meal by themselves for fear of being labelled a social outcast, remember that you are your own harshest critic. One tip is to carry a novel or newspaper around and you’d be surprised at how much more fulfillment you get from reading rather than scrolling through your favorite celebrity’s newest online post.

Most importantly, eating alone gives you a balance between the rush of having constant hangouts and get-togethers in between school and work schedules. Interestingly, you’ll realize that you needed that well deserved me-time.

As college students, we are constantly bombarded with social media and the cultural norm of having to always be around other people. But not every experience needs to be a social one. Just remember to always take some quality time for yourself, and that peace and quiet will be more than worthwhile. Once you get comfortable with it, you realize that eating and doing things alone is quite rewarding and gives you a renowned sense of empowerment to make decisions on your own.

 

Alex Guardado is a fifth-year public health science major.  He can be reached at aguarda1@uci.edu.