Freshmen Fridays: Eatin’ Solo
Every freshman fears eating alone in the dining hall. Or worse, slinking off with a to-go box to eat in the bathroom stall like Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls.
I’ve never stooped as low as the toilet seat, but, with nobody around on my floor to grab food with, I’ve certainly had a nerve-wracking lonely lunch or two. I pack a backpack so that I look studious, pick a two person table, and pop open my laptop behind my plate. I’m usually too nervous about the social consequences of solo eating to actually study, and I end up BuzzFeeding. I might see someone I kinda-sorta-maybe know and spend several minutes contemplating whether or not to say hi or to move over with them, finally making the responsible decision (Yes. Go say hi. Be normal.) as they get up to leave and it’s too late. Those few meals I spent alone, hyperaware of my status, were miserable.
Luckily, in two months of college, I’ve learned that, in reality, eating alone is a nonissue.
For one, it rarely happens. We’re probably long past the point where you can sit down with literally anyone and introduce yourself. But that’s okay, because every time I take a deep breath and mentally prepare myself for the supposed social trauma of eating alone, I end up seeing someone I know who is happy to eat with me.
More importantly, though, eating alone is simply not a big deal. We do it at home all the time, so why not at school? We’re living here! We can’t expect to have company at every moment of every day. What makes eating a peach alone in my dorm room so different from eating that same peach alone in the dining hall?
So today, walking back to my dorm at 10 PM after an exhausting day of classes, activities, and deadlines, I took an extra step forward. Toward Capo Giro, that is. Spontaneously inspired, I spent $5.13 on an absurdly small cup of absurdly tasty gelato, fully alone and proud of it. I finished off the smooth, silk spoonfuls of Thai coconut milk and dark chocolate within a mere four blocks. But during those four blocks, I felt content, empowered, and unashamed of the ridiculously satisfying cup of gelato in my palm. In the chilly air, momentarily refreshed from the pressure cooker of the day, I didn’t need to pull out a book and pretend to study, I didn’t worry about who I might see or who might see me, I didn’t think for a second that perhaps I should hide this treat in a bathroom stall, and I didn’t care that the gelato was overpriced and undeserved. I cared about each spoonful passing my frozen lips and the flavor of sweet independence trickling down my throat. It tasted damn good.
– Byrne Fahey