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Defying Social Taboo: Eating Alone

What is it with our society today? When did eating alone in public become such a taboo that it is almost a cardinal sin? I remember in high school lunchtime was usually the period everyone looked forward to, but for me it was a chore. Who you sat with and ate lunch with defined how socially acceptable you were. If you did not have anyone to sit next to at lunch, you were basically an outcast, or "loser." I did have a steady group of people I ate with during lunchtime but sometimes we would get assigned to different lunch periods based on what class we had before it. I took a lot of AP courses junior and senior year and most of my friends decided to take it easy and take the regular classes. This created a problem. We got assigned different lunch periods. At lunchtime I would bring my food into a hallway outside of the cafeteria to eat. I was not exactly alone, because a few others did the same thing. I felt extremely insecure because I had no one I knew to talk to. I dread lunchtime every single day, sometimes I wish I had the courage to just skip lunch and starve.

Fast forward to college. I lived in the dorms freshmen year and I loved that my dorm in particular had a huge cafeteria downstairs. The food selection was incredible, so many items and even a gourmet line all included in our meal plans. The dessert section was my weakness usually. Since everyone runs on their own schedule it is common to see people eating by themselves at random intervals throughout the day. My roommate and I had very different schedules but we always promised each other to eat dinner together every night and lunch together at least 3x out of the school week. This made me feel at ease because I always had someone to eat/talk to while enjoying my food. As the year drew on, I steadily made more friends and so did she. We both invited other friends to join us on a regular basis during meals. Now lunch and dinner became a social time for everyone. I loved the atmosphere. However, I noticed that the people who ate alone stopped coming in for meals after a few weeks. A friend of mine actually told me she usually skips lunch or dinner and just eats cereal in her room because she could not find someone to go with her! WOW. How sad.

I am still in college but living off campus this year. My friends and I still make time to see each other but life has become even more independent now. For those of you who don't know me, I am a huge fan of NBA basketball. Due to the recent Linsanity craze, I have become a loyal fan of the NY Knicks. I have not missed any of their games this season (watching). For me, watching games is a social event, the more people the merrier. I like to host watching parties at sportsbars. None of us want to watch at home, boo. Yesterday was Easter Sunday and a lot of my friends were busy. I asked a few of my guy friends if they wanted to join me in watching the Knicks vs. Bulls game. One told me he no longer watches the games because Jeremy is out. Another one said he had too much homework to catch up on. Oh okay. The girl friends I am most close to are not into basketball at all. So asking them to come with me is a rhetorical NO. Also, they were still eating brunch/spending time with family.

I would have stayed home but we don't have a TV at my apartment. I had to decide whether I wanted to skip out completely and miss the game or drive myself to the sportsbar and eat alone. I had to struggle with this for at least 30 minutes. I began to reason with myself. I'm pretty sure people eat alone all the time in public, right? Wait, most loners in restaurants are older guys. Most girls are deathly afraid to eat in a restaurant alone for fear of being labeled as someone with no friends and no life. I honestly can't remember the last girl I saw eating alone in public unless it was on the patio of a cafe. Then I remember what a good friend of mine once said to me:
"I've always admired those girls who could just sit down in any cafe or restaurant with a book in one hand while eating. They seem so independent, confident...beautiful." Her words rang in my heart and empowered me to be like these girls. What's the worst thing that could happen if people were to see me eating there alone--watching the game? Would I die--literally no, figuratively maybe of embarrassment. Honestly though, how many would even give a d**n in the first place? You know what, I am not going to let my self-consciousness consume me and prevent me from watching one of the most anticipated games of the season. Besides, Derrick Rose is playing...after sitting out of 12+ games due to his injuries. I definitely didn't want to miss seeing him play. Oh and the sportsbar I chose has more than 25 flat screen HD TVs. I wouldn't miss any action. I said **** this stupid social taboo, I'm going regardless of what others might think or say about me. I felt like such a rebel, I didn't bother to put make up on. Normally I wouldn't do this, because I am so scared to go "bare-faced" due to acne scars and blemishes. Today, I didn't want to aim to please anyone except myself.

Once I get to the sportsbar, I am relieved. Hardly anyone is even there, only 1 woman at the bar and a couple in the back section. This is going to be really easy. The bartender/waitor eyed me the minute I came in the door. He looked surprised to see me sitting down in the center dining area alone. Nevertheless, he was quite friendly and was ready to take my order. I ordered the usual things and he got the food out pretty quick. I'm here to watch the game, not other people. I had to keep repeating this to myself. He changed 2 of the TVs to ABC so I could watch from either angle. I was ready to enjoy the whole game without anyone distracting me with conversation. Awesome. I get so into the games that I am mumbling commentary as I am chewing on my food. The waiter checks on me at least every 15 minutes or so. This is a polite gesture but is it because he pities me? Each time I reassure him with a smile and a nod that everything is great.

Half time was a challenge because it's a long break. I just sit there and text my friends while occasionally watching the other people eat around me. Nothing awkward here. The pace really picked up after half-time when Derrick Rose decided to play for real. I was so crushed when the Bulls were leading in the 4th quarter. Thanks to Carmelo Anthony, we were able to tie with them in the last 10 seconds of the 4th quarter!!!! I stand up because I can no longer contain my excitement. THIS MEANS OVERTIME PLAY. HELL YES. I WAS HOPING FOR THIS. NOW THIS IS A GOOD GAME RIGHT HERE. I do a fan girl scream and a little dance in my seat. I walked up to the TV facing my table and just stood there watching the action. Last 2 minutes of OT, I sigh heavily and prepare to give up all hope. Melo surprises everyone at MSG and elsewhere with his 3-pointer in the last 20 seconds of OT!!!! OMG. WHAT THE HELL. I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT I AM SEEING. Final score 100-99, what a beautiful number. I get so worked up about the victory I am struggling to get back to my seat. On the way, I clumsily knock over my glass of water. Water and Ice spills everywhere. Oops. People are now looking at me. Whatevs. All that matters is that I didn't come here for NOTHING.

I felt like a BA walking out of there, lol.

"Judge away...shame turns me on."- CB <3
yujinxiang317 yujinxiang317 22-25, F 2 Responses Apr 9, 2012

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I admire you so much for going and just not caring what people would have thought. Nothing is wrong with eating alone. I honestly before my anxxiety/agoraphobia I ate alone all the time. I def kind of told myself that people have reasons to eat alone (as in people being busy, work, or even just there to be alone) so when I would go in a restaraunt or else where to eat with friends I never looked at someone who was alone because we all never know what the circumstance is of eating. Your an incredible person and you very personabale and I'm sure you'd have no problem having people come sit and talk with you, what kind of person wouldn't appreciate a girl going to a sports bar by herself to watch basketball. =))) You remind me a lot of myself but your amazing beyond words and I know the feeling about being sooo pumped up. I felt that way with my Celtics and Heat. Anyways off topic but this story is inspiring maybe this can help people open their eyes and to not make eating alone such a tradgic thing.

Thanks babe! I really appreciate you reading this long story lol. Your kind words are always uplifting to me :) I need more friends like you. seriously. love you.

Your very welcome =))) and Awwwww trust me. I need more friends like you as well, glad I met you on EP, even if it's just on here it's a blessing =)) but no dont ever thank me. What are friends for ;) love you too hun!!! Thanks again for being a friend as well!

Wow! I LOVE your story! Its so inspiring to me, and I'm so happy to hear about what you did. Why do we need to feel weird about sitting alone once in a while? You know what? Its normal and I don't give a crap about what other people think! I have so much to think about after your story. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you! Yeah I almost bailed on myself last minute but my inner conscience pushed me forward. I hope I did not come off sounding too conceited. =)