Who are you with?

February 16, 2011

So… happy late Valentines Day, everyone! Sorry I didn’t write anything romantic for my readers, I was much too busy going on several hundred dates last night to blog. My bad.

Anyways, speaking of being “with” people, I wanted to post some thoughts about literally being with people, specifically in the dining halls of this fine academy we call UMass. How’s that for a segue? [seg-way]

From Monday to Friday I wake up around 10:30am and go straight to class with no breakfast. My classes end anywhere from noon to 2pm, and by that time I’m beginning to feel the effects of stage-2 starvation so I head to my favorite dining common, Franklin.

As I walk around searching for somewhere to sit I have a choice laid out before me. Do I (A) Try to locate people that I know and sit with them, or (B) Book it to the closest available table and plant it? The answer is almost always “B”.

A lot of people feel uncomfortable eating alone at the DC and make sure in advance that there will be someone there to meet them so they don’t have to go it alone. However I find that there’s a lot to be gained through solitude, and likewise much to be lost through forced company.

For example: Eating alone gives me a chance to reflect on what has happened in my day so far. It allows me to go over what went right and what went wrong, and what I can do to improve. It lets me plan out how the rest of my day will go, and in doing so I remember things that I would have forgotten otherwise, like my over-stuffed laundry basket, or that email I had to send to that professor that I should have sent a week ago.

Even when my mind has nothing to organize, I revel in the experience of being physically alone in public. It grants a certain anonymity that empowers me to act differently than I do around my friends. I can walk differently, talk differently, and most importantly act differently without being scrutinized, because nobody around me knows who I am and so they’ll only question the most outrageous of actions.

This isn’t to say that I go around knocking over chairs and yelling at people in an Australian accent simply because nobody knows me. That would be crazy. (Crazy fun!) Simply put, being alone gives me a freedom that I don’t experience very often.

I could use my anonymous powers for evil by people-watching, but I figure I wouldn’t like to be people-watched, so I try not to do it. Rather I use it to blend in with crowds, in the DC or otherwise. Sometimes while walking on campus, when I’m all anonymous-ed out, I feel like I’m a tiny ant in a colony of thousands, and I imagine everyone around me having a specific job that they’re on their way to do. On the other hand, if I’m walking with a friend then I’ll inevitably lose my sense of how small I am compared to everything in my world, and my ego inflates accordingly. Alone I’m an ant; in a group I’m a wolf in a pack.

Going back to the DC, one of the issues I encounter as I’m finding a table for myself arises when I see someone that I know (or barely know), and the dialogue lasts longer than five seconds…

As you can see, it can be difficult to get my little sliver of peace cashed in when people ask if I want to sit with them. Of course there are times when nothing would make me happier than to reconnect with an old friend or have a group chat, but most of the time I’m very content to eat lunch by myself. So even though I honestly appreciate the generosity behind such an offer, all it usually does is make me feel awkward.

Please though, if you’re reading this [and I know you are (I can see you)], let me be clear: I’m not saying “NEVER INVITE ME TO LUNCH BECAUSE I AM ANTI-SOCIAL AND I WANT TO BE ALONE.” I would love to have lunch with you. I’m just talking about when random people that I don’t really talk to offer me a seat because they feel bad that I’m alone, when really I enjoy it very much.

*Note that this blog is entirely about lunch. Dinner is an entirely separate event in which I always want to be with people and I do feel weird being alone. If you ever see me by myself at dinner it’s okay for you to offer me a seat! I won’t bite you :) haaaaard…

Sorry I didn’t blog for a month, Jen Mageary. I’ll try to do better.

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3 Responses to “Who are you with?”

  1. I haven’t blogged in two. BIATCH.

  2. I stand corrected. I blogged this month. BIATCH.

  3. you should be sorry you haven’t blogged!

    ps who would want to eat with you anyways, you smell horrible! are we even friends?!

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