I can tell you from my two weeks at Emory that making friends is tough, especially if you’re a loser. In case you’ve been wondering, yes. Everyone is judging you.
Now at this point, you might still be in vehement denial — that’s understandable. We all know you’re an insecure wreck. Allow me, however, to paint a picture for you. You’ve just begun to make the arduous trek from the Emory Student Center back to your dorm room. The rain pitter-patters on the cobblestone as you run away from your terribly awkward attempts at making conversation with the “cool kids.” You finally reach your destination, your face soaked with either rain or tears (who can tell at this point), and you bump into someone. You look up and are blinded by the lone ray of sunshine bellowing down onto them. This is it — the opportunity (probably of a lifetime, for you) to finally make a friend! But how not to blow it?
I might be able to help. Without further ado, here are some of the best ways to move past the awkward and into the chummy.
1. Tell them they smell nice. Literally nothing breaks the ice faster than telling your bro that he smells like a bundle of sunflowers. It’s simple, flattering and lets them know that you mean business. Give them your friendship card, because you’re about to do some stellar bestie networking.
2. Ask them what classes they’re (not) taking. If you want to have a lengthy, fulfilling conversation with them, skip the cliché “What’s your schedule look like?” and ask them this introspective question instead. They might find the query (and you) slightly weird, but at least others will think you’re having a deep conversation with someone.
3. Ask them to give you a back rub. Imagine this: you’re in line for some bone-dry grilled chicken at the Dobbs Common Table, and the person in front of you abruptly asks for a back rub. You’re not going to say no unless you’re normal (and if you’re reading this for advice, you likely aren’t). So you begin to massage them, and before you know it, you’ve surmounted the pleasantries and gone straight to physical harmony. If this sounds like something you’d take a liking to, by all means, employ this tactic and start asking with reckless abandon. Proceed with caution though: asking every single person in a group of eight if they could give you a back rub is slightly overkill… anyway… moving along…
4. Agree with everything they say. Like, everything. I think it was Beyoncé who said, “Fake it until you make it.” To catalyze meaningful conversations, she said, is to find commonalities between you and the person opposite to you. Well, Queen B, we’re about to take this morsel of advice to a whole new level. If they say they’re from South Korea, you say you’re from South Korea. I don’t care what your Ancestry.com report tells you. Just say it. If they adore massive ice cream sundaes, to hell with your lactose intolerance — you now like massive ice cream sundaes too. If they want to be a freelance graffiti artist, you’d better be more than ready to sacrifice your medical aspirations. This friendship is for life. Before you can even run to the bathroom to expel the dairy from your body, you’ll practically be identical twins with this guy. And by the way, you might want to see how well you can handle your drink — that new best friend of yours has a few issues.
5. Bonus: Just be yourself. All self-deprecating humor aside, this is the key to making true friendships. College is a difficult time for everyone. COVID-19 has made it even more obstinate at times, keeping us farther away from our families and augmenting our reliance on social media to meet people. Through the extensive wisdom I’ve gained throughout my time at Emory, I can tell you that walking onto a campus as intimidating as this one can feel like walking into your crush’s class for book buddies in elementary school: it’s a hotbed of anxiety and uncomfortable sweats. Nonetheless, college is the place where clueless teenagers blossom into adults, so spend time working on yourself. Read that book you’ve always wanted to read, join clubs, take interesting classes and explore your endless capacity for intellectual and personal discovery. Friends will come, believe me. Many people on campus are in the same boat as you, so never feel like you’re alone. And if you do feel that way, despite my weird tactics for making friends, I’m generally pretty normal and am always open to talk.
I hope you can use these tips to your advantage in the coming weeks. At the very least, they should offer you some semblance of security. If this is what some people think will get you friends in college, at least you know you’re better adjusted than they are.
Ishaan Jathal (24C) is from Melbourne, Florida.