Let’s face it, if you decided to get out of bed this morning then you indirectly decided to throw yourself into various uncomfortable situations. You asked for it. Whether you are on your way to class, work, or everything else, it is almost certain that you will be tossed into an awkward situation. By now we have all surely accepted this as a part of life and have adapted accordingly. Over the years we have all eagerly watched as the people we called our “friends” have faked phone calls in our paths, the people we have met while drunk at the bars have stared at the sidewalk passing by, and our ex-lovers have snapchatted excessively while in our presence. It is not this behavior itself that I am angry about, I find myself doing the same things, but rather the creativeness in which it is being done. While the avoidance of eye contact has become as American as baseball and ignoring serving sizes, I have been noticing lately that people have been getting extremely lazy with the methods they are using to avoid eye contact and I am now taking it upon myself to restore this age-old art form
During my career at college I have been thrown into too many awkward situations to count, and much like an agonizing sickness I am building up an immunity in terms of running into the girl who I accidentally threw up on in class and having to face the professor who mistook my harmless daydreaming for staring at her rack. However, because some have a lower tolerance for these awkward interactions, I have found that the trick is often times being proactive. It’s just not enough anymore to play the victim and to walk into these situations day after day. That being said, here are five easy and creative ways to avoid eye contact daily.
Although also terrifying, a perfect amount of friendly conversation acts as a great tool for distraction (let’s be honest you don’t really care what they have to say.) This method is best done when you have a peer to talk with, perhaps a fraternity brother or co-worker. This makes the conversation look more genuine and less like an excuse. As always, if nobody is around whom you feel as though you can talk to, desperate times call for desperate measures and you may need to engage a stranger. Try things like, “Aren’t you in my Psych 100 class?!” or “Don’t you know my friend Alex?” These are usually generic enough where you can get a reaction most of the time and if not then feel free to get creative. Besides, all you need is a few seconds.
2) The Clipboard Effect
Personally, this is my nightmare. You know the old saying, “You spend about 2/3 of your life sleeping and 1/3 avoiding people who are trying to get you to take a survey” or something like that. The bottom line is, at college, in between doing nothing and doing more nothing we don’t have the kind of time to stop and help you save the environment. So while holding a clipboard may not make you the most popular person on campus, it will surely help you avoid the awkward one-night stand you had over the weekend.
Headphones are the closest you can get to an invisibility cloak. When someone has headphones in, you don’t talk to them. Take advantage of this. Does the person you are avoiding locking eyes with really fucking suck? Wear sunglasses! You’re basically camouflaged.
4) Enjoy a Snack
I’m actually somewhat surprised as to why this gets overlooked and does not get used that often. The amount of awkward interactions I have avoided while walking to class just by focusing all my attention on a personal pizza is astounding. In a way, it’s killing two birds with one stone. We love to eat and we also love to avoid confrontation. In addition, your distraction is justified and others are viewing you as efficient and possibly even intelligent because you are involved with so many extracurricular activities that you can’t even find the time to eat.
5) The Tide To-Go Scenario
Caution: This method requires some convincing acting. As you see your target approaching from a distance start casually looking down at your shirt. Not in a nervous way, but rather in an act of shock. Start gently brushing at a spot on your clothes, eventually picking up pace as if there is a stain that you just noticed. This should keep you occupied for anywhere from one to three minutes. This is also a good route to go when dealing with someone like an ex that you do not want to deal with because they will be expecting you to either fake a text or just stare at the ground. If you are feeling really ballsy and in a particularly good mood, feel free to spray some water from your water bottle on the article of clothing to make it more realistic. Then sit back and practice your Oscar award winning speech as you enjoy a less awkward day.
So there you have it, no more excuses. While we are all guilty of taking the easy way out, I want us to reflect on our actions and make a vow to take the extra step to be rude, but in a creative manner. Yes, chances are the person you are trying to avoid will still catch onto what you are doing because it is so painfully obvious every single time, and while they will still think you are an asshole, there is no arguing that you will be a creative one.