We all know that feeling: you’re en route to class when from 25 feet ahead the guy or girl you had talked to for, maybe, 5 minutes last Saturday is walking towards you. Your “cool” college strut suddenly becomes magnified in your mind and isn’t feeling so casual anymore, and you wonder what you were even looking at before you became hyper aware of this oncoming person and well. You typically have one of three options:
1You avoid eye contact
Your gaze shifts to the opposite direction and now it’s like you had never seen them at all (except for the millisecond your eyes met, but we won’t talk about that). Unfortunately, everyone knows what you’re up to, and while the tree on your right may be beautiful, it unfortunately doesn’t call for a 30 second stare.
2You pull out your phone and act busy.
Suddenly you are tasked with an emergency call, text or email. Your mechanic thumbs go from Messages to Instagram to Facebook and maybe even to VSCO, if you’re really desperate. As the bystanders watch from afar, they pray you realize the sidewalk is about to end. Interaction avoided, but at what cost?
3Simply dodge the situation completely and run the other way.
Your class in 10 minutes is in the Engineering Quad, but hanging out in Mann for a few more minutes can’t do that much damage.
But what if there was another option?
Whether you are freshman plagued with the “five minute friendships” or the rest of the population that loses sleep over reflecting on lost opportunities for friendship, we cannot fall into the high school hallway eye contact syndrome. The mixture of anxiety and excitement that comes from meeting new people, reaching out to those you are drawn to, and saying hey to everyone you pass will radiate in all parts of your life. Because the truth is that everyone’s a little awkward. We come into college with a predisposition of the people we will meet and whether we notice it or not, we categorize everyone based on our logical ordering of the world. It turns out that know far less than we think–so let the labels go, whether they are placed on others or yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, it is so easy to fall into a robotic routine, but we are all in it together. Part of self-discovery is allowing yourself to discover others. No matter how different we may think we are, inevitably we find out that whether you are in sorority, in a business club, going pre med, or studying studio art, we all have a desire to be understood and understand others. Sometimes you have an intuition that you could connect with someone, and that feeling is sparked for a reason, so act on it because there’s truly nothing to lose.
So the next time you pass by that girl you met on the TCAT or that guy from your lab you spoke to that one time, don’t be afraid to throw out some “Heys” or–if you’re really feeling crazy–maybe even stop and chat. Life is funny, interactions are awkward, but don’t let yourself miss out by getting trapped inside your head.