In the harrowing adventure that is childhood (and teenager-hood), lunchtime was among the more turbulent experiences. When you were very young, you were probably told where to sit. As you grew older, though, your school usually let you do the choosing. This era of midday autonomy usually coincided with the onset of puberty. Cue social disaster.
The dispersal of hungry teenagers across a school campus could be chaos. Fortunately, most people form groups and find a regular spot in the cafeteria. But not everyone is so lucky. For many, lunchtime was an hour-long ordeal of either retreating to the bathroom or eating utterly alone.
Natalie Hampton, an 11th grader from Sherman Oaks, CA, is seeking to solve the lunch dilemma with an app called Sit With Us
. She told NPR
, "At my old school, I was completely ostracized by all of my classmates, and so I had to eat lunch alone every day."
Now 16 and thriving at a new school, she designed an app to rescue those in her former position. The app allows "ambassadors" to host open lunches that anyone can join. It's kind of like Tinder for high school lunch and it's meant to protect against the Regina Georges of the world (we've all heard the menacing words, "You can't sit with us," at least
Is Hampton's experience universal? I would say yes. I transferred to a new high school my junior year and found myself in a stairwell most days. Would I have used an app to find a place to belong? Absolutely.
We asked Refinery29 staffers where they sat in high school. Click through to see where we spent lunch hour during our high school days — and why Hampton's app is so, so necessary.