Creative Writing Blog: Adventures of a socially awkward first-year

“It’s a small world,” we say to ourselves as we run into people we recognize in our ventures. And in comparison to the vast expanse outside, it truly is, a small world. But from an introspective angle, the space between one moment and the next, the moments leading up to sleep, or the feeling of satisfaction after a successful interaction, the world is enormous, wondrous, intimidating.

For the socially awkward, or even anxious new comers to this whirlwind of culture, information and stress, every day can be an overwhelming event.

For myself, the adventure begins when I leave the apartment. I kiss my boyfriend, or shan’t I say, my only friend, goodbye for the day. This is followed by a tightly packed, “I didn’t mean to touch your butt,” bus ride to school. There’s a surprising dilemma in deciding whether you’ll be seated, getting intimate with a stranger, or to stand with readied apologies at the tip of your tongue for blocking somebody’s path to the exit. More often than not, as the Carleton goers spill from the bus to the pavement, I am left quite flustered. Sometimes I am even blushing, filled with the embarrassment and regrets of these awkward encounters.

The avid Netflix-watcher, stay-in type of lady I am speaks volumes of my exercise regime, which is limited. My heels are hit hard, going from one side of campus to the other, trying to hold my exasperated breaths so as not to reveal to those around just how out of shape I am.  Arms clutched tight to my abdomen, eyes to the ground, breathing stifled, I make my way through the sea of people, each with their own purpose.

It’s hard to say whose purpose is similar to mine, though I’m pretty sure an exchange of sympathetic eye contact is not going to bridge the way to friendship. University may be the best place to form meaningful friendships, but for those who experience similar struggles to mine, it sure can seem like the most difficult place to make those friendships. Large lectures, and general a desire to retain the immense amounts of information only adds to reasoning the intentional avoidance of conversation.

I use the word ‘conversation’ loosely. There is nothing engaging about small talk. I can understand if I come off as pretentious, but in reality it is just my own social inadequacy that spawns frustration.

This is the great double-edged sword of university: independence. The push of high school, the desire to satisfy others expectations is diminished. In return we’ve got all the power, here to get all of the ‘know how.’

It’s disorientating to say the least, for all students. What about the indecisive, the awkward, or the shy? Which way do we go? How do we get there, or build up the courage to do that without an idea of where it will take us? These questions can be paralyzing, especially for the socially awkward first year, I bet any year really.

Despite all of this, I get up in the morning, down my coffee, and drag myself to each and every class. Some days it takes more muster than others, but it gets better, tracking through this scary and wondrous world. This is what gives me confidence and hope to push for more in my day.

Sometimes it is a simple smile, other days I even succeed in a brief dialogue with my dignity intact. I will continue on my adventure, hoping to meet others like myself, because we need to join forces; however quietly it may be, to encourage one another to make it through the next adventure.