By Emmy Liederman
The beginning of my freshman year consisted of awkward Welcome Week ice breakers, countless Taylor ham versus pork roll debates and hoping that I would never have to eat alone at the dining hall.
The thought of having breakfast by myself was intimidating — I envisioned walking into Eickhoff Hall with the entire study body and staff looking at me and wondering why I hadn’t made friends yet.
As the semester progressed, my friends and I realized that due to our conflicting schedules, sharing every meal together would be impossible. So I sucked it up, ate my pancakes by myself and soon realized that there is something peaceful about being alone.
Having a meal by yourself can be an opportunity to catch up on the news, do some last-minute homework or simply reflect on your day. Feeling like you always have to coordinate your meals with your friends is unnecessarily stressful, especially since no one could care less if you are eating by yourself or not.
When sitting alone, I am more aware of my surroundings — I can sit in the library, drink my morning coffee and think about how lucky I am to attend such a competitive college. As I walk across Green Lawn on my way to class, I am reminded of the beauty of the College’s campus and all the opportunities that the next four years will bring.
Sometimes, filling time with another conversation with a friend about last weekend’s party, the chem lab they haven’t started or how much sleep they didn’t get the night before is both unnecessary and unfulfilling.
When I’m alone, I’m not worried about making anyone happy but myself. I can eat at my own pace, listen to my favorite Spotify playlist or actually click on that New York Times notification without feeling rude or unengaged. I don’t have to pretend I’m in a better mood than I actually am or think of a funny story to tell for the sake of someone else’s entertainment.
I have learned that alone time has allowed me to become a better listener — it’s hard to immerse yourself in other people’s lives without making time to reflect on your own.
At a young age, we have been taught to befriend the kid who is sitting alone in the school cafeteria. Growing up, I would often pity the man who sipped his coffee alone at the diner, wondering if all of his friends were too busy that day to spend time with him. But for many people, being by yourself is a beautiful thing. Independence is such an admirable quality— once in awhile, we all need to be able to enjoy our own company.
So, next time you’re hungry after class and no one in your group chat answers that “anyone wanna go to Eick?” text, don’t go back to your dorm and settle for ramen noodles. Instead, think about how much you might actually enjoy a meal by yourself.
I promise that no one is staring at you, and if they are, they would probably benefit from some alone time as well.