Many people, particularly underclassmen, are often crippled by the fear of eating alone in the Union.
They enter that intimidating dining area with their food dangerously close to slipping from their nervous, sweaty palms and their eyes rapidly scanning the crowd for a face they recognize, often to the great dismay that there is not a familiar face in sight.
Alternatively, the proactive bunch rushes to the safety of their pre-organized group at their pre-planned table with a recognizable look of relief.
This dark, negative notion of sitting alone being uncomfortable and unacceptable is entirely unnecessary.
Eating alone in the Union is not that terrifying. There is neither a monster waiting to pounce on the weak and alone, nor a middle school bully prowling for victims.
There is no reason to be uncomfortable, ashamed or self-conscious while trying to simply enjoy some chicken nuggets or other Union delicacies, whether that be alone or in the company of friends.
Eating is a necessary part of life. In what I’m sure is a very busy and stressful life, sometimes it’s necessary to prioritize efficiency over socializing. With time already in short supply, it is unrealistic to constantly coordinate that limited schedule with someone else or risk spending far longer than necessary making small talk at a table.
I understand as a small, defenseless underclassman that solidarity and power in numbers are essential parts of survival, but I’m here to share that it does not need to be that way, especially when trying to bulk-up with a hearty meal.
In college, there are far more important things to worry about than the table one eats at and the few, even if excruciating moments, spent there. There’s angry professors, comprehensive exams, roommates picking fights, 10-page essays that sneak up and are due the next day. To endure all that, this meal, alone or not, is more than crucial.
It’s a small step toward independence, what college is all about and what our country was founded on. If students are capable of voting and washing their own underwear, they are surely capable of eating a meal on their own.
The other day I received a Snapchat from my friend depicting her place sitting in the Union with the caption, “My lowest point--eating a salad alone in the Union.”
If being a strong, independent woman is truly her lowest point, then props to her.
Though she made this comment humorously, it reflected a part of her true feelings regarding the situation, and it speaks volumes about the current, interdependent and uneasy mindset of many students begrudgingly sitting alone.
If a student is genuinely incapable of overcoming this social anxiety, there is one clear way to combat this issue--sit at a random table and make a new friend.
More likely than not, they are trying to avoid the same situation you just escaped.