Grabbing a pumpkin spice latte I keep moving, pretending to text and trying to not make eye contact. I am comfortable with the routine that keeps me from being exposed as who I really am: The Lunchtime Loner.
First block is the prime texting time, when I scramble to find someone to spend lunch with. Responses shoot back stating, “Busy,” or “going to the mall with friends.” But where does that leave someone with few contacts to start with? Wandering the halls, where you initiate the formula for not looking like a loner. This system exists to help students like me to not feel lonely at lunch.
I do not just speak for myself here. When you see solo students walking past you once, then yet again, the evidence is prominent that they have nowhere to sit.
You see, sitting by yourself in the school foyer is social suicide. All the popular kids will see you and laugh and point, whispering, “They must not have any friends.”
What could Belmont do to fix the lonely hearts of these students? With the teacher’s strike long over, instructors are not bound to rules forbidding lunchtime activities and programs. There are very few happening throughout the year, examples being The Gay Straight Alliance, dodge ball intramurals or the math club. But if you’re not passionate in any of those few things, where does that leave you? Wandering with your latte.
Occasionally, external help needs to be brought it and you must go to the adults. It’s tough to admit that sometimes I have to call up a parent and we meet off-campus for lunch, because when everyone is busy and you need your daily social interaction, you can almost always count on a parent or guardian. In some cases, parents work full-time. But that’s where you get creative and go to classrooms of teachers with open-door policies, or hit up some adult friends from other social or sports groups.
When the school year started and Belmont students began to get to know each other, the assessment of my classmates started for a lunchtime hangout candidate. Effort is made to be open and friendly, just as I would want to be treated if the situation was reversed. It’s habit now to put in the extra time where other students wouldn’t have to, because they have a large friend group, something I wasn’t blessed with.
The next time you see someone by themselves between 11:50 a.m. and 12:40 p.m., walking in a straight line on their second lap, maybe you’ll understand the importance of the simple question; “Hey, want to grab a pumpkin spice latte?” Joining them could make the difference and be just what someone needs to veer away from their “loner status” and move toward becoming a typical Belmont student with a happy lunchtime routine.
So branch out, take risks and don’t be afraid to talk to a Lunchtime Loner. We are, in fact, almost like everyone else.
Jessica Williamson is a student at Belmont secondary.