Allow me to illustrate an image for you. One with which, in all likelihood, you are all too familiar.
Pretend you’re a freshman girl who frequents the downtown scene on the weekends.
You’re traveling (i.e. trekking… thanks, UGA) around campus from class to class, distracted in part by the throngs of students in front of you who are apparently incapable of walking at a normal pace, and in part by some text message you weren’t sneaky enough to reply to in the middle of class. As you glance ahead, you see a distant figure coming in the opposite direction.
As the figure moves closer, you realize it’s a guy you’ve met and spent some time with. You’re suddenly faced with an unexpected amount of pressure. There is a decision to be made.
“Oh shit,” you think, “I had a heart-to-heart with that guy at Bourbon Street on Saturday. Does he remember me? He told me his life story. He listened to mine too. We may or may not have had a moment. I don’t quite remember. Do I say hi?”
By now, of course, the decision-making time has nearly elapsed….
“Is it too soon? Would it be weird not to say hi? Ok I’ll do it. Ehh… might be a bad idea. What if he thinks I’m a clinger. What if I don’t do it and he thinks I hate him? Okay. Fine. I’ll do it.”
The face-off is about to arrive. You look over to make eye contact as Romeo approaches. You make eye contact. You move yourself to say hello. Romeo immediately looks away. Opportunity missed. You are shocked and offended that Romeo ignored you. What an asshole! You’ll never say hi to him again… until you see him and reconcile at Bourbon Street on Friday night.
Of course, Bourbon Girl v. Romeo is just an example. This issue doesn’t necessarily apply to love interests or members of the opposite sex alone. It happens to everyone. The ignorer could be anyone… someone you recognize, someone you’ve spent time with, but someone who isn’t on friend level. Maybe a friend of a friend, a former classmate, a friend of a sibling, a sibling of a friend, or some kid from high school whom you were never friends with.
Here’s the problem:
I AM THAT PERSON. Ignorer=me.
My apologies to anyone who might have felt the awkward and uncomfortable two seconds of tension as I avoid you. It’s Pavlovian. It’s a bad habit. I know the friendly and natural thing to do would be to say hello, but for some reason it always seems like such a challenge. Furthermore, this happens to me more than once on a daily basis. I’m not saying I’m über-popular or anything (haa… what an allegation that would be), but instead that sometimes, despite the some-25,000 undergrads enrolled at UGA, I somehow seem to recognize almost everyone whose path I cross.
I have seen and have committed every trick in the extensive and ceaselessly awkward book, for instance: the “pretend there’s something super interesting on my phone that’s consuming all of my attention”, the “I’m trying to find something in my bag and it’s distracting me from seeing that you’re there”, the “engrossed in thought” stare into space, the “I know we just made eye contact, but it happened so fast I’m going to pretend we didn’t” and if I’m feeling particularly ballsy, the toothless quick-smile.
So I deplore you, if you see me and you know I see you too, go ahead and make the first move. Say my name to get my attention if I pretend you’re not there. I will be flattered; moreover, I will pretend I was planning on saying hi all along. Of course, I’ll feel awkward about whatever sound I expel to greet you with, but you won’t have any idea.
Thanks in advance.