There is nothing I dread more than seeing people I barely know at the airport. For my socially awkward self, nothing fills me with anxiety quite as much as spotting somebody I recognize in a public setting. Yet lo and behold, on my trip home to Tulsa, Okla., this break, I spotted a guy from my marketing class at check-in.
Within a few minutes of awkwardly loitering around his radius, I made a fatal mistake that is often the nail on the coffin for every introvert: eye contact. And with that eye contact, I saw his neutral, stony face quickly form a furrowed brow, a sign that he recognized me. Within seconds, he approached me, guns of mindless small talk blazing.
After he pestered me for four minutes on end, my generic responses petered out in a final, dramatic “haha yeah.” When he finally finished badgering me, he passed his black-and-white striped bag into my hands and hurried away, muttering something about his bowels.
How can I avoid this in the future?
Dear Hartsfield-Jackson Awkward,
Perhaps you can take flights at times when the airport is less populated, such as early morning or late night flights. Hartsfield-Jackson is one of the nation’s busiest airports, so running into someone from Emory is extremely likely during the holiday times, when everyone is rushing home. Wearing earphones can deter people from talking to you. Next time you see someone, consider smiling and waving before quickly walking away to indicate that you are not interested in a conversation. Or, you could indulge the person for a few quick minutes before informing them that your flight is boarding soon.
With cuffing season in full swing, I am increasingly desperate for a companion — someone to share a peppermint hot chocolate or cup of eggnog and wear matching ugly Christmas sweaters with. However, I am uncomfortable with advertising myself on popular dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble, and don’t think anyone would swipe right on me. Do you have any suggestions as to where I can find love this holiday season?
Dear Shy Guy,
I’d first point to a quote from Academy Award winning actress Angelina Jolie: “Figure out who you are separate from your family and the man or woman you’re in a relationship with. Find who you are in this world and what you need to feel good alone. I think that’s the most important thing in life. Find a sense of self because with that, you can do anything else.” In that vein, I’m a firm believer that focusing on your own self-improvement will yield a more fulfilling lifestyle. Read. Exercise. Write. Build a full life. Things will fall into place.