Why I Eat Alone—And Why You Should Too

Design by Anasthasia Shilov

This week, the Opinion section reintroduces Point/Counterpoint, a classic Herald column format. Desk editors Tarel (PC ’24) and Jack (BK ’25) argue about whether to eat meals alone, and why. Read Jack’s response to Tarel here

It’s 5:00 p.m.: finally supper time. The last thing you want to do is wait on your friends to get ready for dinner because “5:00 p.m. is too early.” But what they don’t know is that you didn’t get to eat breakfast this morning because you have a 9:25 a.m. lecture that doesn’t post slides on Canvas, and you were up until 3:00 a.m. writing your daily theme. So you haven’t eaten since 11:30 a.m., when you scarfed down a shitty salad made out of wet Ruby Red Rice Blend, corn, almonds, cucumber, raw pepitas, roasted carrots, and chickpeas because Yale hates vegans and you couldn’t bring yourself to eat the Souvlaki with Roasted Eggplant and Fresh Herbs. Since that “lunch,” you’ve been stuck in back-to-back classes since 12:00 p.m., running from a 110-minutes-too-long 110-minute English seminar, a mind-rotting philosophy class, and an even more mind-rotting section for the mind-rotting class. You didn’t even have time to drop by the Bow Wow to pick up a protein bar and a kombucha—even if you had the time, you would never buy anything from the Bow Wow on principle. 

As you head out of your room and walk past all the grunting, shirtless men in the Pierson gym on the way to the dining hall, you realize that you’ve been handed a golden ticket. A glimmering pass of liberation from the shackles of human interaction. All day, you have been forced to engage with know-it-all English majors who use and abuse the words “praxis” and “zeitgeist,” football players charging through the WLH halls shouting to their teammates, and professors who expect their class to be your number-one priority. But now, as you head to the Great Feast, you’re free. This time is yours and yours alone. You can do anything in this precious thirty-minute window. 

You can finally catch up on the 200 pages of reading you didn’t do for the English seminar you went to and had nothing to contribute to—or watch the newest episode of The Kardashians. You can ruminate on the fact that your friend said that you look awful—or ruminate on whether or not they’re actually your friend. You can scroll on TikTok and see what new song is trending—or you can scroll through your Apple Music library and see what songs you haven’t listened to in a while. You can just sit in the noise of the clanking dishware, the scraping utensils, and the buzzing people—or you can put on your noise-canceling headphones and sit in the silence for once. 

Eating alone is a time to check in with yourself and finally choose, for yourself, what you want to do. In a world where so much of our lives is determined by other people—stage managers laying siege to our Google Calendars, professors assigning 200 pages of reading on Tuesday before the Thursday class—and defined by being with other people—rehearsals, frats, and societies—we are losing ourselves to the pressure of constant socialization. Eating alone is an act of defiance and protest, a perfect time to reconnect with yourself.

Leave a Reply