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Solitude: Coming to a dining hall near you

During Welcome Weekend, I asked my roommate and the girls across the hall if they wanted to go to eat together for every meal. I would not consider, even for a second, going to Western Dining Commons by myself.

Once classes started, I quickly realized it would be impractical to meet up with friends for every meal every day, and I certainly didn’t want my diet to be limited to the Ramen and Easy Mac I stocked in my dorm room.

So, I started to venture to the dining halls on my own. 

It was scary at first. It takes a bit of courage, especially as a new freshman. It seemed like everyone knew someone and had a group of friends already. 

Being by myself felt like I was behind the game. It felt embarrassing. But I reminded myself that, in reality, every new student had the same anxieties I did and were too busy worrying about themselves to even think about what I was doing.

It didn’t take long for my introversion to overtake my insecurities and now, I genuinely enjoy eating alone. I can eat as fast or as slow as I want and I don’t have to talk or explain myself to anybody. 

It’s become my main form of alone time. To the point where, when a friend of mine told me that she had never eaten in a dining hall on campus by herself, I was shocked. Eating alone is something that is now an enjoyable part of my daily routine. 

Sometimes I’ll sit and eat and people watch, or I’ll watch a show on my laptop.  It’s a nice break from the overwhelming demands of college. Between classes and meetings and having a social life, how often do I get to spend time by myself?

And it’s so much better than staying in my dorm. My room can start to feel so isolating, and heading over to a dining hall to eat and watch Netflix means I can relax without going stir-crazy. 

There’s no actual socialization involved, but it prevents me from feeling shut out from the rest of the world. It also stops me from feeling bad for taking time for myself — something I, unfortunately, often feel guilty for. 

I like spending time alone. But, sometimes, the pressure of grind-culture gets to me and I feel like I have to always be working on something. Leaving my dorm at least offers me the pretense of productivity without actually having to do anything substantial. 

Freshman year is weird. You’re thrown into a new world filled with so many new people, and simultaneously you’re alone for the first time. It’s a strange dynamic, even for someone like myself who has always been fairly independent.

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Not to sound cynical, but in the end, we’re alone in this world. 

Instead of attempting to make plans with someone else, make them with yourself. Instead of waiting for a chance to get out of your room, just do it. 

Being alone seems like the simplest act of rebellion in a generation obsessed with socialization. 

The sooner you get comfortable going out and doing things by yourself, the sooner more valuable experiences are available to you.

Once you start doing one thing by yourself, you can do anything. 

Over J-term, I planned to stop in at Bob Evans and pick up some soup to go, but when I walked in, for some reason, I decided that I would stay and eat at a table for one.

It did feel a little weird at first, but like anything, I got used to it. And I walked out feeling like a badass. 

whitehan@miamioh.edu

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