There are some people who have mastered the art of eating alone with grace. Last summer, my best friend and I went to a little town in Provence. At dinner, this girl in a baby pink sweater came in and sat at the table next to us. Pulling out a novel, she ordered a glass of Chardonnay and salmon with black truffles in perfect French (with a flirtatious wink). Her sleek ponytail flashed in the sunset every time her head turned from the food to her book. I stared at her almost the entire meal–her elegance was breathtaking.
Then, there are people like me—who stand in front of Crossroads, debating whether or not to go inside, scared of eating alone. For me, eating has always been a communal experience. I confess, even though I know it’s ridiculously dumb to skip meals just so I won’t have to eat alone, I still feel awkward having lunch by myself in the dining commons.
WHY YOU SHOULDN’T
1. THE AWKWARDNESS
In middle school, there’s that kid who always eat alone. You don’t want to be that kid. This is why you desperately look around to see if there’s someone you know, the moment you walk into the cafeteria. If you do end up eating alone, you try to gulp down everything on your plate because you want to get up from the table as soon as possible.
2. MISSING THE MIX & MINGLE TIME
Most of my friendships are built around food. Asking the person in your discussion group to lunch after class upgrades you from a random stranger to a friend. Trust me; there’s no better way to get to know a person than by sharing a meal.
3. BINGE EATING
When you eat with friends, you talk to them. This gives you time to eat your food slowly. Also, when there’s no one to judge you when you get eight plates of food, you take in more calories.
WHY YOU SHOULD
1. HAVING TIME TO YOURSELF
If you think about it, you never spend time alone. Your roommate is always in your room; you go to class with 400 other people daily; you even share a bathroom with your floor. Eating alone is a great time to catch up on work and to contemplate your life in relative silence.
2. NO COORDINATION NEEDED
Chances are, your friends don’t have all the same classes that you do. You all have different lunch breaks, so you spend your lecture time texting everyone on the contact list to get a lunch buddy. If you eat alone, you can walk into Crossroads whenever you feel like it.
3. SAVOR THE FOOD
Okay, if you’re going to the dining commons, that doesn’t sound appealing. However, if you eat out, you’ll want to taste the delicate flavors of your $9 crepe to make it worth the money. Conversations can be distractions. Practice mindful eating.
After all, eating alone is not as torturous as it sounds. Sometimes, the perks of being that kid can outweigh the awkwardness. As long as you enjoy the meal, who cares if you’re eating it alone or sharing it with friends?