If someone dared you to sit at a random table in the dining hall—a table with people you’ve never talked to before—would you do it? Well, fall term, I dared myself to and called it “My Breakfast Project.” Why?
1. It dawned on me that, sadly enough, I always knew where I would sit in the dining hall: in the big bubble, near the edge, the second table from the column by the cereal. And I know most other people have their own breakfast spots.
2. I realized that I was afraid of what would happen if I sat at a random table. Would there be an awkward silence? Would they get up and leave?
3. It was my senior year, yet I didn’t know that many people. I knew about many of them (few things are sacred here and, as we have all noticed at some point, the walls are crazy thin), but I’d never had a conversation with most. After weeks of contemplating, analyzing, obsessing, I made up my mind to do it.
The short story is that I sat at four different tables and— surprise, surprise—didn’t die. To be honest, it was nerve-wracking going up to people I don’t associate with. To ease myself into the experiment, I decided to start with a table where I was acquainted with some. I also recruited a friend to do it. When we asked if there were free seats, the others looked confused, but that was as awkward as it got. Soon enough, conversation flowed, and this pushed me to do more.
A week passed, and I became determined to do the hard tables—the ones that made me most nervous. My next target was a table with guys on the same team, because if athletic boys aren’t the most opposite to me, I don’t know who is. I donned my nametag and put on my big-girl britches, but there was no such table to be found. So I decided to sit at a table of sophomore girls instead. Picture me with my dark, twisted hair amongst a ring of all blondes. Before my project, these differences in appearance would have intimidated me, but I told myself to throw away my prejudices. The table ended up being really fun.
I didn’t have much conversation at my second-to-last table. Two of the boys were checking sports and the other two were eating, but that’s understandable. Sometimes you just want to sit and eat in peace before going off into the day. I know I have mornings when making conversation would be too much.
My final table was a senior boys table. My friend egged me on, and I realized people were regarding my project with interest. And ultimately, my project ended on a high note. These senior boys and I talked about work, then I learned about Breaking Bad and listened to “Blue Persuasion.” The best part was the end, when the two boys who were in my first-period class waited for me to walk to class together.
I’m writing this because I think more of this mixing should happen. I’m not telling you to eat somewhere new every day. I eventually stopped my project because I needed a break. It was tiring to have to introduce myself and push myself out of my comfort zone (the edge of the big bubble, second table from the column). I’m just saying that we often feel like we have to stick to a certain group and routine. If we didn’t, who knows what could happen?
My answer is: good things. Most people are receptive to someone coming up to them and starting a conversation. The problem is that no one wants to take that first step. But there comes a time when you need to do the hard thing—because it’s worth it. Getting to know people outside your friend group is worthwhile. Don’t wait until Senior Cry to tell someone you wish you’d gotten to know her/ him.
Just have breakfast together.