24 Apr Awkward encounters and other fun things I like to think about…
We’ve all been there – you wake up on the right side of bed, the sun is shining, birds are chirping and it’s not ridiculously hot outside (for once). You’re having a pretty swell day, going about your business and then all of a sudden BAM – you have an awkward encounter. And now you can’t stop thinking about the whole mortifying experience. Is this you?
You might be under the impression that you’re the only one out there. The only person that replays embarrassing events in their head weeks (or in my case, years) after they’ve happened. Or the only one that actively tries to avoid uncomfortable social situations. And that’s where you’d be wrong. The truth is (and I hope this is reassuring, I really do) is that we all do these things. We’ve all felt shy or socially awkward at some point in our lives. And that’s totally normal (I think – fingers crossed).
So in light of this fact, I thought I’d let my inner introvert run loose and share some of the small day-to-day things that we can all relate to.
Running into people you know but don’t really know…
Whether it be in the level 6 corridors, in the G40 elevators, at the tram stop, or in Woolies, we’ve all run into people that we know (usually other Griffith med students) – but who we don’t really know. Someone that’s not a friend, but not a complete stranger either. You may have met each other once in clinical skills, crossed paths at an event or even vaguely recall speaking to on some occasion. So, now what?
My brain: Oh no – do I say hi? Do I not?
My brain: Maybe I’ll just walk away quietly and this will be over soon.
My brain: But what if they say hi and I ignore them? Then it’ll be rude.
Ok, but how would I know unless I look at them first. Let me take a quick glance just to check whether we’ve decided to acknowledge each other. Ok they weren’t looking this way.
OMG they looked up and caught me staring.
The Walk of Shame…
(Yes, I know what this phrase implies. No, that’s not what I’m talking about.)
If you’ve ever been late to a lecture, then you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Picture this. Everyone’s seated in lecture Theatre 1, the lecturer has already started speaking and dozens of medical students are typing away at their laptops. You, however, are running late.
As you approach the main door, ready to push it open and rush forth into the lecture theatre, for a second, a wave of dread washes over you. Just for a second, the anticipation for what comes next makes you almost turn around and walk in the other direction. Do you really need to attend this lecture? Do you really even need an education?
But you know what you have to do. So you push the door open. And as many curious pairs of eyes dart towards you (it’s no secret that people can’t help but turn to look when someone walks in late), you slink to an empty seat, hating the fact that you’ve drawn attention to yourself in front of an audience.
This grand entrance is something my friends and I have affectionately dubbed ‘The Walk of Shame’.
What’s even worse is if you decide to sit on the side of the room farthest from the door. And then you contemplate, do I walk in front of the lecture podium or behind the lecturer to get to my seat? There is no easy way. And no matter which one you pick, it’ll feel like the wrong decision.
Blushing for all the wrong reasons…
The only way 8am lectures could get worse is if they were 8am lectures with the potential for public humiliation on the side. Not following? You know those lectures where students are randomly picked from the audience to answer questions? Yeah, I hate when that happens. And if you don’t feel the same way, you’re either extremely intelligent OR you’re a psychopath.
As questions are dished out, sitting in my seat, I can’t help but contemplate whether it’s too late to walk out. In fact, my brain has already started concocting all the imaginary ways that this could go wrong.
Lecturer: What substance is essential for human growth, development and survival?
Me, without missing a beat: Toilet paper.
What’s even worse is when the lecturer asks questions to people along an entire row. Worse still – YOUR entire row. Surely I can’t be the only one who starts to count down the number of people until it gets to me. 5 more people. 4 more people. 3. 2.
Palms sweating, heart rate mildly tachycardic, I try to furiously remember the content from the last 30 minutes of the lecture so that I can respond with more than a “uuuh I’m not sure” when I’m asked. And then finally it’s about to be my turn. But luck is on my side. The lecturer miraculously decides to start questioning a new row. Rejoice (queue celebratory music in my head)! I live to see another day.
Avoiding everyday awkwardness…
When it comes to authority, or pretty much anyone in a teaching position, there are some situations where my social awkwardness really kicks in.
Take PBL for example. In the early days of a new PBL group, I actively avoid arriving too early to sessions. This way, I can save myself from awkward small talk with the PBL facilitator or unfamiliar members of the cohort. And can you blame me? Small talk is hard.
Facilitator: It’s so hot today
Me: Yeah it is haha
Facilitator: I wonder where everyone else is – it’s almost time to start
Me: Yeah they’re probably on their way haha
Thanks but no thanks.
Anatomy labs are another struggle altogether. When I’m not being too anxious to approach tutors (especially when they’re all huddled together in groups), I’m trying to evade being questioned by a certain anatomy lecturer. If you’re wondering why, it’s because I don’t want to have to watch the light slowly leave his eyes as he realises that despite his best efforts to teach me, I still know pretty much nothing.
Congrats! You’ve made it to the end…
Now that I’ve well and truly exposed myself, I hope you realise that feeling uncomfortable in certain social situations is really just a part of being human. So, the next time you cringe internally thinking about the awkward thing you did last week, remember that everyone else is probably doing the exact same thing. Well, at the very least (and if it’s any consolation), I can assure you that I certainly am.