By Mallory Harris |
Eating alone is a reality that many choose to disregard and brush off their shoulders because it doesn’t affect them. Some may think that because new college students make the transition from high school into the crowded world of a university, they wonder how there could ever be a chance to eat alone? Personally when a table is set for two, those seats are for me and my backpack.
As I was preparing for this upcoming semester, I knew it was okay to have those moments for myself, but don’t purposefully become a recluse either. So, in the first few weeks of the fall term I was grabbing lunch with my roommate about everyday or every other day.
Around the third week, we were finally getting into our own schedules and routines, meaning I would have to find someone else to eat with. But in the days that passed, I ended up eating lunch by myself; I actually enjoyed it too. I realized that I could just eat without worrying about interacting with someone else, it became my “me time.” However, after a video advertising Baylor University cafeterias surfaced on Facebook, my mother called me crying about how she saw me eating alone in the background. I had to explain to her that this was normal for me and a ton of other college students.
A common misconception about eating a meal alone is that person is pathetic or doesn’t have any friends. My mom worried that I was secluding myself and not doing well socially on campus. For her, and others as well, it was difficult to understand that this alone time was comforting and relieving for both my self-esteem and mental health.
While I was eating by myself, though, I consistently saw multiple other students eating alone either finishing up homework, catching up on a TV show, or just enjoying themselves. The reason some college students ate alone is because there are literally thousands of people on campus and it’s intimidating not knowing every single one of them.
Although it’s important to share moments of “breaking bread” together, college is HARD, and there are only so many hours within a day. Due to the busyness of everyone’s schedule, eating alone serves as an encouragement to become more comfortable in finding ways to take care of oneself and exercise your independence.
College students must make time for themselves, whether it be in the form of eating alone or doing a face mask. These little moments of relief are vital to the success and well-being of college students as we are challenged in every aspect: academically, socially, religiously, and mentally.
Real talk: making the choice to further one’s education is daunting and thrilling and not always glamorous. It may seem hard and painful to sit alone but trust me when I say that it will become a very productive time to get to know yourself better, to finish up a last-minute assignment, and be a confidence booster for someone else to eat by themselves.
It is not a bad thing to eat alone. Eating a meal by yourself gives you time to understand how to be alone and how some peace and quiet, even in a bustling cafeteria, can soothe the roughest of weeks. It is not shameful. It is not pathetic. It is not sad. It is not painful to watch. Personally, I find it a humbling, patient, and recuperating time where I can make my to-do lists and remind myself to take care of my mind.