Yes, It Happens: Eating Alone in College.

Is eating alone in college a big deal? How can you avoid eating lunch by yourself at the dining hall? We discuss these issues and more.

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Woman eating alone

Do you remember that scene from Mean Girls? When Lindsey Lohan looks across the cafeteria during lunch and realizes she has nowhere to sit? 

If you haven’t seen it, let me finish the story: she ends up eating her lunch alone in the bathroom, completing the nightmare of every new student.

But that moment? It’s reality… and in college, it happens to everyone.

You’d think that with 15,000 students at your university, you’d never have to sit alone. Or, at least, that you wouldn’t feel so anxious about it. You’re in college! You’re supposed to be an adult now. Calm, cool, and collected.

Despite all of these things, when that dreaded lunch break between classes creeps up, sometimes you can’t help but feel like that poor new high school freshman, gripping your tray of terrible cafeteria food. Ugh.

Eating Alone: Awkward but Manageable

Being an Army brat, I’ve done the “new kid” act about a million times. So I’ve learned a couple of tips about eating alone, how to handle it, and how to make sure it isn’t a regular thing, if it bothers you. Here are my top tips and tricks:

  • Don’t panic. Please, please, for the love of Jake Gyllenhaal, don’t panic! Anxiety will just make you freak out in a public setting, which will destroy any chance you have of sitting with a human being. Plus, you probably won’t even be hungry anymore after all the worrying. Stay calm, whatever you do.
  • If you see someone you even remotely know, sit down! That girl in your Freshman Comp class sitting by herself? She’s probably just as nervous as you are! I know it’s hard going up to a stranger and talking to them, but the feeling you get from a smiling face and a welcoming invitation is worth it. Believe me.
  • If you end up alone, use your time productively. Take this alone time as a good thing! Work on some homework, flip through a magazine, watch some Netflix. It’s very relaxing to just have some “me” time in between classes. Relish in it, even if it seems weird in the beginning.
  • People watch, but don’t creep. I love sitting in a coffee shop and just watching the people walk by. It’s a very soothing experience to just notice the world around you. Make up crazy lives for the people standing in line, but don’t snoop on people’s conversations and things. That’s creepy.
  • If all else fails, fake it till you make it. My first week of college, I saw a guy eating alone in the cafeteria, and I swear he looked like he preferred to eat alone. Like you had to have an invitation just to sit with him. I was so impressed, and I really wanted to embody his sass and confidence. This guy is a great example: If you pretend to be confident and care-free, soon enough, you will actually look and feel that way.

At the end of the day, eating alone isn’t the worst thing in the word, I promise. It may seem like it at the time, but everyone feels awkward at some point in their college career. Heck, I’m STILL there, and knowing me, I’ll stay there. But it’s always nice to know you have a few tricks up your sleeve to help ease one of the many problems you can face being in college.

So pack up your lunch boxes, get your special snack to swap with a potential lunch buddy, and happy eating!

Your thoughts?

Do you like to eat by yourself in college or do you find it awkward? How do you handle it? Do you follow any of these tips? Tell us in the comments section!

6 thoughts on “Yes, It Happens: Eating Alone in College.”

  1. I eat alone at college because I’m not so desperate for other people’s approval that I can’t spend 20 minutes alone.

  2. I have social anxiety and I have three hours and have nothing to do. Are small common room is always full and no one ever sits alone so I’m in the library now but I have no where to go and I’m hungry and feel to self conscious to eat alone I have made a few friends but one lives on campus and just goes off at lunch and the others are gone home on the train so I have no one

  3. Wait, this is a thing after high school? When I was in college, everyone sat wherever the heck they wanted, most of them frantically cramming and/or praying while doing so. Sitting alone with a book in a long break between classes is great. (Also, get off my lawn!)

  4. I actually eat alone every day since I eat in a college near my internship (it’s the cheapest place to eat) that it’s not the one I study! I try not to be bothered by it, I usually spend my ‘me’ time texting my friends 🙂

  5. i used to freak out and text friends i know who goes to my college and see if theyre also on break, if no one’s there i dont eat there and just drive out to eat somewhere haha. NOW, i prefer to eat alone, my actual alone time.


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