Introduction

Making Friends: Allegedly Possible

Making Friends: Allegedly Possible

So I’m standing in this unending line at the registrar’s office, reading a book while I wait, and… I guess that was my first mistake. There ae two people in front of me. One turns to the other, “You okay?”

“Oh, uh… what?” He should have said ‘pardon’, but I’m apparently too picky.

“You just look really tense is all,” the girl initiating communication replies. “My name is _____, by the way.”

Thus they started talking. Y’know, general talking. About their classes, why they were in line, their program, the differences between third and first year, yadda yadda.

And THAT, my friends, is how you do it. That is how you MEET PEOPLE.

With reference to my ‘mistake’; I was reading a book in line. Conventional wisdom says I had blocked off any openings for a random person to strike up a conversation with me. As we all know, people who read books in public places are snobby and too involved in their own intellectual bettering to want to deal with ‘normal’ people.

Well, no. That was not to say that everyone in the line who wasn’t immediately taken with my radiance and didn’t start talking to me thinks in terms of the paragraph above. Of course not. Bah. But, as a side track, how often is it that shyness is mistaken for snobbiness, ‘social awkwardness’ (one of my ‘favourite’ terms), or even insecurity? It is. Sometimes. Not all the-

Anyway. Ahem. I went to the Queer Orientation (a pun!) Meet n’ Greet on… someday, at Hart House. I had class prior, so I missed all the ‘ice breakers’ and the initial ‘branching-off-into-groups’, thus everyone was already chatting it up quite comfortably when I arrived/peeked through the window from afar. I couldn’t actually GO IN until I serendipitously ran into some friends in an entirely different area of the building and dragged them along. However, once in the midst of a large group of people where no one knows anyone else save for those they dragged along, one realizes… it ain’t so bad creeping up on someone and uttering an awkward ‘Hi’. As I was told by a new acquaintance, you have to kind of ‘insert yourself’* into the circle… don’t completely interrupt their conversation, but still join in. It went well.

It was a meet n’ greet, so awkward hellos were expected and welcomed. In other situations… for example, in class, or, god forbid, in class in the middle of the semester, attempting to talk to someone you don’t know isn’t always met with warmth. U of T, like the rest of the world, has a fair number of mean people (who still have friends, for some reason).

The advice given to students wanting to make new friends is usually to go to club or unions meetings, attend frosh week lest ye commit social suicide**, the whole ‘get involved’ thing. Good advice, but hard to do in higher years, if you have no time management skills, or if you can’t bring yourself to talk to anyone at said meetings (although, from my experience, a club’s execs are pretty darn approachable and the ones to talk to if stricken with ph34r***).

When you want to make friends, in any situation, in any year, my advice is to employ some age-old rules with a dash of adulthood.

1. ‘Be yourself’. The mantra sung to many a small child, until Mr. Windbag yells at you to stop ‘being a class clown’. Forget Mr. Windbag. Be yourself, but with a pinch of respectability to the person you’re approaching. Resist the urge to judge them as ‘pretentious’ because their vocabulary exceeds yours. Try not to confuse ‘rudeness’ with ‘honesty’, or ‘political correctness’ with ‘basic respect everyone deserves’.

2. Drop teh sirious sp1nn4ge on teh ‘0ld cl4ssic’; Anyway, remember asking other kids ‘Do you want to be my friend?’ Don’t ask it now. It’s creepy. But, if you find you are, ahem, ‘clicking’ with a fine lad you met in the line for free hot chocolate, a slightly bold ‘We should hang out,’ a bolder ‘We should be friends,’ or even the perilous ‘I like you!’ can do the trick. If you can pull off a ‘Wanna be friends?’ with the right intonation of humour and ironic ‘I’m-asking-you-a-kindergarten-esque-question-that-could-totally-be-embarassing-but-hey’, then go for it. Don’t forget to use your eyebrows.

3. Don’t talk in negatives. Don’t use ‘don’t’ a lot. Oh wait, what?

4. As for ‘the initiation of communication’, the essential friend-making step… (cough). The weather works well. Asking a question about whatever you’re standing near works well (“Are lattes still seven dollars at this place?”). If the person has a sense of humour (read: or, a soul), making a joke works well. “I like your outfit.” (not the joke). Peeking at their syllabus, “Hey, my brother’s friend’s half-sister’s grandfather’s grandchild is in that class!”

If all else fails, “Hello. What brings ye here?”

I’ll test these out for you and see if they actually work.

– Liesl 🙂

P.S. In other news, I think ‘kanye’ should be a verb. As in, “The professor’s lecture was kanyed by the James Joyce enthusiast.”

*Stop your giggling.

**I’m kidding. I met great peeps during frosh week, but feel deep shame that I turned into a frat boy for a week of my life.

***’Fear’.

2 comments on “Making Friends: Allegedly Possible

  1. The difficulty of meeting people (especially for off-campus students) seems to be a recurring theme in the UofT student experience…

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