Solo dining is an aspect of adulting that takes a minute to get used to. But eating alone can be meditative, productive, melancholy, exciting, and more! 

Before college, I was worried about having no one to sit with in the dining halls. I dreaded the horror of eating alone, surrounded by chattering friend groups that would pity me in my solitude. But now I know that dining alone is great, whether you’re in a dining hall, at a restaurant, on a bench, or in your dorm. 

About a month into last semester I took myself to dinner at Missy Robbins’s Williamsburg pasta joint, Misi. I felt self conscious surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of couples’ date nights and millennials’ birthday parties, meanwhile occupying only a square foot of bar space for my solo dining adventure.   

I felt like the waiter was thinking, “what the hell is this kid doing here,” so naturally I decided to shove down my shame and pretend to be The City’s hottest young food critic. My self consciousness quickly turned into BDE (big diva energy). It felt a lot like a dinner date with myself. 

I reflected on how my semester was going; thought about the lovely people in my life, new and old; ate a ricotta crostini that looked straight out of an anime; thought about how happy I was to be there—the restaurant, New York City, Barnard; and ordered dessert: a strawberries & cream flavored gelato that I noted was “anticlimactic” (pretty harsh). 

But a solo dining experience doesn’t have to be at a trendy Williamsburg restaurant to be great! Most of my solo meals involve Netflix & chilling with some cereal and dorm coffee, people-watching with Ferris’s guacahummus and infused waters, or a “make every bite contain every ingredient” approach at a Diana poke bowl that I waited entirely too long for. 

Sometimes I have to scroll through dumb tik toks till I laugh so hard that my nonexistant abs hurt. Sometimes I might just have to ferment in my emotions: happy, sad, confused, successful, unsuccessful, excited, scared, reflective, neutral. All of these cases count.

Sure you can spend time with yourself doing other stuff: drawing, walking, planking, whatever. But there’s something so special about nourishing your body and resting your mind simultaneously. It’s like charging your phone overnight rather than plugging it in for 28 minutes before going out: more reliable, more satisfying. 

Next time you dine alone, enjoy! Think about how great mundanity can be. Pretend to critique your food like a Michelin Guide inspector. Recharge yourself!

photo via Needpix