Dinnertime rolls around once classes are finished for the day. It’s been a tough week, and you’re ready to head to the dining hall and hang out with your friends. But when you reach out to your roommates, your classmates or those students down the hall, no one else is free to grab some food. If you still want to eat on campus, you’re going to have to do it alone.
This can be a stressful, even scary, situation for college students. There are so many pressures from society that say eating alone is something to be ashamed of. In reality, eating alone is completely normal. According to a report in 2014 from The NPD Group, over 50% of eating happens when someone is alone.
Numbers may be one thing, but emotions are another. If you still feel uncomfortable with the idea of eating alone, here are four reasons to remind you that it’s always okay to do things by yourself.
1. YOU’RE USING TIME WISELY.
You shouldn’t have to depend on someone else’s schedule when it comes to your eating habits. Dining alone means that you control when you go, and for how long. It may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but you’ll save yourself time in the long run. Eating alone now means more time for friends and fun in the future.
2. YOU’RE TAKING CARE OF YOUR BODY.
Again, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your meals for fear of being alone. Your body needs calories and nutrition more than you need your friends to act as social buffers. Putting off meals, or skipping them altogether, is not only foolish, but also unhealthy. Plus, it’s guaranteed to put you in a worse mood; as the commercials say, you’re not you when you’re hungry.
3. YOU’RE GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF.
When you’re at college, it’s sometimes hard to get time to yourself. Between classes, friends and roommates, there’s always someone to talk to. But college is also supposed to be about getting to know you: your interests, your talents and everything in between. Eating alone grants you the opportunity to slow down for a moment and take a look at what you’ve been doing without chance of interruption.
4. YOU’RE NOT REALLY “ALONE.”
Regardless of your current meal, or even friend, situation, remember that you are still loved. This is not some public badge of shame. Twenty minutes of isolation should not ruin your opinion of college or independent life. But, if you do start to feel overwhelmed, you can always scroll through your pictures or social media feed to remind yourself of all the people who care about you. Just don’t get too glued to your screen; food was meant to be enjoyed as well as eaten.
Feeling comfortable enough to eat alone is just another stop on your road to adulthood. This is part of becoming independent, not just from your parents, but from the rest of the people around you, as well. You don’t need to be surrounded by friends to have a good time. It’s more than okay to eat alone; it’s healthy.