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How to make friends

| Monday, September 1, 2014

You are sitting nervously and sweating profusely. The room is silent, but you are not alone. You are too scared to let your eyes scan the room, for you might make eye contact with another human being.

You may not know this human being, and locking eyes with them would create an awkward, horrifying experience. Or would it?

You start to think it is silly to fear eye contact so much. Would it really be so bad? Maybe you’d make a friend.

You let your eyes slide to the right. You can’t make out much. Darn those weak peripherals; you should have eaten more carrots in your youth.

With enough concentration, you realize that tan blob over there is a leg — a hairy leg. Is it yours? Did you forget to shave this morning? You reach down to check the stubble status of your legs: silky smooth. You let out a sigh of relief. All is right in the world.

Your sigh was a bit too loud, and now everyone is looking your way. Or, you think they are, at least. You’re not sure, since you’re too scared to look up. You might make eye contact with someone, which is to be avoided at all costs, remember?

But hey — your legs are silky smooth. You are a confident individual. More than that, you are an accomplished member of society. You read Homer at home. You understand the theory of relativity relatively well. You are licensed to operate a four-wheeled motor vehicle by the state of Massachusetts. You are invincible.

You look up, enlightened and empowered, but no one is looking at you. Maybe they never were, but you can’t give up now, not once you decided to become the social animal you were created to be.

You must start a conversation with someone, and you must do it now. Your social hormones are raging, if humans even have those (you can’t remember — you passed notes during freshman bio.)

You could talk to pencil-tapper in back of you or compulsive Snapchatter in front of you, but you settle on hairy-leg, since seeing his limb led (indirectly) to your social rebirth.

You decide commenting on his leg hair may not be the best way to initiate a friendship. You are a socially aware individual who knows that the accumulation of dead skin cells can be a touchy subject.

Impressed with your social acumen (thanks Seventeen magazine for the conversation tips!), you scan the floor for potential conversation starters. You find a broken pen and a speck of goldfish. Not exactly what you were hoping for.

Then you strike real gold. You spot hairy-leg’s athlete backpack and can even read his nametag. Maybe you did eat enough carrots in your youth. You better say something to him before you decide not to.

He’s a little surprised that you know his first and last name, but once you explain how you just learned his name from his backpack tag, he realizes you are not a stalker and it is not necessary for him to change classes. Not yet, anyway.

He finds your boldness intriguing, if a bit bizarre, and the students around you seem to enjoy your exchange. Pencil-tapper stops tapping her pencil and asks if hairy-leg knows her friend on the track team. He does. What a small world.

Snapchatter stops staring at her own face and starts talking to the ones around her. The formerly dead room has come back to life. It pulled a Jesus Christ in three minutes instead of three days.

For the rest of the semester, you’re thankful you ventured out on a limb after seeing that hairy limb. If you hadn’t said anything, you would have endured a semester of awkward silences before and after class. Even more, you would have missed out on making friends with Joe, Emily and Ashley (hairy-leg, pencil-tapper and Snapchatter’s real names).

You learned two valuable lessons before class even started:

One: Never be scared to start taking to students you don’t know in an awkward, silent room. They may be too scared to start a conversation and will probably be glad you were brave enough to do it.

Two: Always have silky legs. They’re an undeniable confidence booster.

Erin Thomassen is a sophomore studying mechanical engineering, because everything is interesting. She lives in the better Pasquerilla (East of course). Email her with comments, column ideas or awkward family photos at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Erin Thomassen

I am a freshman double majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and French. PLS (aka the Notre Dame Book Club) is the history of ideas through literature, philosophy, math and science. It was the perfect major for me, because I couldn't possibly choose one subject and hurt the other subjects' feelings. French was also a natural pick, since I have been prancing around my house under the pretense of performing ballet for eighteen years. If someone asks me what I do in my free time, I will tell them that I run and read. What I actually do is eat cartons of strawberries and knit lumpy scarves. If you give me fresh fruit, we will be friends. If we become friends, I will knit you a scarf for Christmas. It may be lumpy, but it will be in your favorite color. And if enough people become my friend, lumpy scarves might just become a trend.

Contact Erin