As college students, we have been told these four years will be the most selfish of our lives. We are on our own, and the only goals we have are for the most part related to 1) not flunking out of school and 2) staying alive.

Maybe you are flying out to New York for a weekend to be interviewed for a competitive finance internship at a Big Name bank or hitting up a cousin’s wedding in Florida. Sometimes it’s a Sunday night on the eve of 6th week in Hyde Park and all of your friends are Regging. In any case, you are on your own.

No Snapchat responses.

No texts.

No phone calls (but let’s be real you haven’t gotten a phone call in over a year from anyone other than your grandma). Not even your mom tries to dial you up anymore.

TL;DR: You are alone AF, and also hungry AF.

Come, take my hand, and let me guide you outside and into the world of solitary dining. Get ready to open up Open Table and enter in a reservation for one. Somewhere out there, a delicious not-microwaved meal is waiting for you.

1. Find your ujjayi breath

We have already established that you are alone, and now you must center yourself and embrace the circumstance. You now have a little time with the person you know best, and you can spend it doing what you love most: eating some delicious food. Do not let your fear of society’s judgement lock you away in your room for the night. Do not resort to the microwave or Bartlett. Find your inner yogi, Google some relaxing breathing techniques, and get out there.

2. Decide what you want to eat

Photo courtesy of Lauren Smith

This may be the best part about eating out alone. Your friend Sally doesn’t get the chance to ruin everyone’s night by being the only one who knows what she wants, and you know she wants Snail Thai for the 7th time in a row. NO. This is your night, and this is about your stomach. No one else has any influence on your decision. So go forth and Yelp it up. Find the place with best tiramisu in town. Oh, you don’t usually pick restaurants based off of dessert menus because Sally never has room at the end of the meal? Good thing Sally isn’t invited.

3. Go to the restaurant

This may be the simplest step. Call the Uber, hop on the Red Line or grab your car keys. The method doesn’t matter — just get your fine self to the establishment of your choice and get excited.

4. Enter the restaurant

This may be the hardest step. You are about to walk into a room full of people laughing and eating with their companions, and you are about to ask for a table for one. You may be tempted to go for the spot at the bar that the host offers you, but remain resolute. Recall your ujjayi breath from earlier and summon up your courage. You deserve a table, not a wobbly stool at a glorified counter top. You deserve the little candle next to the salt and pepper shakers, and a little vase with a single flower. That little flower is you, alone but beautiful. And ready for dinner.

5. Order your food

You know the game! Ignore the waiter’s looks of pity! Or the fact that if you take even a sip of water someone is over to fill up your glass because they are watching you and wondering who stood you up! Look at the menu, order the appetizer, the salad and the entree! Or just start with the tiramisu!

Next time you find yourself in a restaurant with a group of friends, take a moment to look around. Is anyone eating by themselves? Probably not. But if by some small chance someone is taking up a booth to themselves, and you make awkward eye contact with that person, give a nod of approval and camaraderie. It is no easy feat to go against the grain of society, and they have taken the path less traveled. For their efforts, they deserve a piece of tiramisu and the knowledge that anything can be accomplished as long as one has an empty stomach and a hunger for adventure.