Ami and I have both experienced our share of tragically lonely lunches. In 5th grade, Ami had to sit alone at lunch because she was the new kid in school and had no friends; in high school, Winona often ate her PB&J in the chemistry room to escape the stress of the mean, crowded hallways. These were dark days indeed, but when we grew up and learned to love our alone time, we reclaimed the solo lunch and reinvented it as a positive and empowering experience. Nowadays, we both actually prefer to eat alone. Yes, really. It gives us a chance to regroup and steel ourselves to face the second half of our workday. To help other women conquer their fears of eating lunch alone, we compiled a list of dos and don’ts that will help turn your solo lunch from soul-crushing to life-enhancing (and, obviously, we illustrated them in GIFs).
DO: Use that precious half hour to readjust your attitude. Lunch is a time to check in with yourself and make sure your head is in the right place if the first half of your day was a bomb.
DON’T: Spend the entire time staring at your phone/computer; give your food some attention. Your phone/computer shouldn’t be a crutch to make you feel less awkward about eating your sandwich by your lonesome. Learn to be OK just being alone.
DO: Sit the fuck down. Don’t walk and eat or stuff a hamburger in your face while standing up. That’s not lunch, and you will regret it in an hour when your stomach starts gurgling.
DON’T: Feel sorry for yourself and think about how unpopular you are while you eat. You’ve reclaimed eating lunch solo, remember? Lunch shame is for losers.
DO: Find someone you can eat lunch alone with. Once you’re positive you’ve conquered lunch shame, you are welcome to find a Gchat buddy, a friend to have a casual text convo with or a person who likes to sit in the park and not talk over salad to spend your lunch hour (or 20 minutes) with.
DON’T: Say yes to any old lunch invitation that comes your way. This is your reboot time; don’t give it up so easily.
DO: Try to step away from your desk if you can. Because desk salad is depressing and computer crumbs are the worst, but if you can’t, you must use your computer for non-work things only. Read some celeb gossip or watch a funny YouTube video.
DO: Connect with the outside world even though you are alone. Smile at a stranger or take a picture for your Instagram. Subtext: Enjoy your damn alone time.
DON’T skimp on good food just because you’re eating alone. Do it up nice. No 7-11 burrito sticks. Eat something you actually want. You deserve it.