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Saga of the Socially Awkward

Classes For Social Underachievers

4 April 2018

The purpose of class is to learn but honestly, who can absorb knowledge and participate in class whilst attempting to be a socially functioning human being? (Sorry tutors, but trying to get a room full of students to discuss some farfetched topic is like me trying to stop procrastinating and finish that essay due in a week, i.e. not going to happen). Let me give you a breakdown of the social intricacies of classes.

The Seat-Choosing Dilemma

Those of you who actually attend lectures instead of watching them online (why do you do this?) have probably experienced the seat-choosing dilemma. No matter what time you arrive, you just can’t win.

If you’re early, you are forced to clamber to the innermost seat lest the lecturer stop talking and tell you to move (this actually happened to me and it was horrendous.) If you’re like me, the idea of being blocked in by students with no escape is suffocating and god forbid you have a class after your lecture ‘cause you ain’t getting out of there any time soon.

If you are late, well… let’s have a moment of silence for you right now because there is nothing more horrifically awkward than having to do the walk of shame. Walking across the front of a lecture with everyone’s eyes on you is not an experience anyone should go through. Coming in through the back entrance isn’t safe either ‘cause the only seats left will undoubtedly be within breathing distance of the lecturer. The only thing worse is being called out for trying to avoid embarrassment by sitting on the steps (again, this happened to me and I do not recommend it).

Not to mention that any plans you had to sit with a friend are thrown out the window. So not only do you have to do the walk of shame, you also have to make contact with strangers. You should have stayed in bed, this isn’t worth it.

My advice: get there right on time, even if this means lurking outside the hall or running across campus (gross, exercise). Wait for a row to fill up and then swoop in and grab an end seat—it works every time.

The Name Game

Tutorials should be a chance to make friends, and they probably would be if you could remember a single person’s name. It’s not as if you are purposely forgetting, it’s just that they never stick and you are reduced to using vague gestures and terms to get anyone’s attention. Top tip for you guys—ask to add them on Facebook and hand them your phone, (this is an important step, you need them to type their name). Not only do you find out their name but you also make a potential friend.

An even trickier scenario is when someone gets your name wrong. One of the most genuinely uncomfortable moments in my life was when my friend realised they had been saying my name incorrectly for the entire year we had known each other. Long story short, I introduced myself to someone else without thinking about it. I will never forget the painfully stilted conversation that followed in which I very embarrassedly told my friend how to pronounce my name and they very embarrassedly apologised despite it not being their fault (FYI, we are still friends).

As someone with a pretty complicated name this happens to me often enough that I now give a fake name when I order coffee. It’s super awkward when someone gets your name wrong, especially when it’s the tutor and suddenly the entire class knows you by some random collection of syllables. Make sure to correct them the first time.

Audience Participation

Forced audience participation is the stuff of nightmares. Being called upon to answer a complicated question about some complicated subject you know nothing about is literally terrifying. You keep your head down, avert your eyes and do everything short of jumping out the window to avoid it but, inevitably, your time will come. I learnt this the hard way. I will never forget the pity in my tutors eyes as I attempted to string together something resembling a sentence; nor will I forget my friends’ clumsy attempts to sooth my mortification. I advise you to pay your dues early and offer an answer to a question you at least partially understand. This way you can fulfill your participation requirements and avoid embarrassment.

I’d like to end by saying that I genuinely feel bad for tutors who are tasked with making a group of unresponsive, unenthusiastic students participate in class. Really, you have my condolences. But please, stop trying to make me answer questions I don’t understand—my heart can’t take it.

And there you have it—an extensive breakdown. Good luck guys, you’re gonna need it!


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