Well…that’s a lie. I am a bit ashamed. But the point is that I am really trying not to be. And here’s why.
I think the image of me eating lunch alone in my car is somehow reminiscent of the stereotypical loner teenager who has no one to sit with in the cafeteria.
But believe it or not, I actually choose and prefer to eat lunch in my car a lot of the times. And I’m not secretly sad about it. The reason behind it is that I am extremely, painfully, nearly debilitatingly introverted (combined with some ridiculous social anxiety, but that’s besides the point… at least the point that I’m trying to make here!). It’s embarrassing but even an average work day in my relatively-cushy office job can actually push me over the edge.
If you’re an introvert, you’ll understand that there are times when you just hit your limit, and legit *need* some time alone. Unfortunately for me, I hit this limit several times on a daily basis. I don’t have my own office, and just the every day basic chatter and exposure that wouldn’t phase the average person makes me want to curl up into a fetal position and scream sometimes (sounds like I’m exaggerating…but not by much, sadly).
Anyway. The first time I ate in my car was a moment of desperation. Going to a cafeteria, a coffee shop, or anywhere wasn’t going to be enough for me to unwind. I was in near tears from being overly drained and stimulated (I don’t even remember why). I randomly drove to a park that was a relatively-safe distance from work, to just take 30 minutes and deal.
It did feel weird. Irrationally (and maybe arrogantly), I felt like there was a spotlight on me. That everyone around me was wondering what I was doing, pointing at me, laughing at me, the friendless loser eating lunch in her car. But as I risked a few furtive glances around me, I realized that a) no one gave a crap and b) there were several other people doing the exact same thing.
And it wasn’t just in parks, either. As I took a liking to the whole experience I tried different locations, and was pleasantly surprised to see that strangers were even doing the same thing in mall parking lots (who knew?). I admittedly still feel a bit uncomfortable, doing it. And if someone ever “caught” me or called me out on it, I’d probably panic, or make up a lame white lie. But it’s time for me to stop obsessing that that every little wee thing I do makes me some sort of a freak.
Bottom line? Eating in my car isn’t hurting anyone. It’s a safe space for me and I have very little chance at being approached or interrupted. The reality is that I have to do whatever it takes to remain functional, even being an extreme introvert (I mean, personally I would rather not give up and become a total hermit that works from home or something). So if this car lunch thing helps me cope with the every day world, so be it.
I know this isn’t anything ground-breaking. I’m not starting a revolutionary car-dining movement. But for me, it’s a small step towards resolving a bigger serious issue in my life: I need to stop obsessing about there being something “wrong” with me all the time. It’s time to own some of it, and do what works for me – no defense needed.