The Dangers of Introversion: Campus Events

 

One of the hazards of being a college student and introvert is the constant possibility of wandering into a survey, meeting, information session, or giveaway that you had no intention of being part of. Those of you who have walked across a college campus recently know what I’m talking about.

“Are you registered to vote at your current address?”

“Are you here to paint the sidewalk with the Alpha Beta Gamma sorority?”

“Would you sign a petition to legalize marijuana in this state?”

At my community college, I carefully read the weekly newsletter, so I knew which areas of campus to avoid. Here, at my state school, there are events constantly, on every corner of campus, so I am often ambushed.

“Would you like a free safe-sex kit?”

“Can you sign this petition for a frisbee golf course on campus?”

“Are you interested in information about the Green Party candidates?”

I try to keep my head down, try not to make eye contact with the people hawking brochures or condoms, and convey by my posture and pace that I’m in a hurry, have things to do, places to be, and have no intention of participating in their hullabaloo.

Occasionally, though, I stumble right into somebody else’s party. I blame the lack of signage for my most recent error. Last week, before Thanksgiving, I had an hourlong break between a class and an important meeting. I hurried to the university’s public lunchroom to microwave a container of soup I had brought as a quick snack. I stopped as I crossed the threshold. Something was wrong. The tables were decorated with tablecloths and centerpieces involving electric candles. There was a sort of sign-in table in front of me. The ladies at the table turned their attention to me.

“Um, can I use the microwave?” I blurted, trying to peer around the corner to see if the microwaves were accessible at all, or if they were blocked by decor. Horrified, I spotted the president of the university and quickly looked away.

One of the ladies, facing the opposite direction, apparently had a clear line of sight toward the microwaves and told me they were inaccessible. “But can we interest you in a free meal?”

The sign on the front of the sign-in table advertised the university’s food pantry. I declined and hurried off in the direction of a different set of microwaves.

I guessed, and later confirmed via the online list of events, that this was the free student Thanksgiving meal, hence the presence of tablecloths, electronic candles, and the university president. I realize it would have been okay for me to accept a meal in that case. I had declined being unsure what the event was, who it was for, why they were giving out free food, and about the mysterious presence of upper-level administrators. But it wouldn’t have made sense for me to attend anyway given that I was going home to a Thanksgiving meal, I was in something of a hurry, and I really didn’t want to be part of the university president’s constant campaign to “make connections with students.” It was a nice hullabaloo, but I still didn’t want to participate, not when I had wandered in by mistake, nor when I learned later that I wouldn’t have been gatecrashing anything.

And then, of course, there are unwritten rules for public spaces. The kitchen in the building for my academic department is full of these. Before COVID, it was ostensibly open to the public but mostly frequented by professors, and sometimes, if you walked in there to check the storage for materials for a class project, you would stop a conversation between faculty members. Was I OK to check the cabinet for cupcake tins needed for a class, or was I interrupting somebody’s meeting? Then it was closed for a year due to COVID, but I had to go in and check the storage anyway. I mentally rehearsed my explanation for being in the restricted area and hoped nobody would ask me any questions. (Nobody ever did.)

My campus is full of random events to accidentally participate in. I don’t think people would really mind if I unintentionally joined their gatherings. There’s a rather generic left-wing protest, for example, that seems to be suffering from low attendance. I don’t think that group would care if I stood nearby and inflated its numbers by 25%. And many people are actively trying to recruit into their student groups, handing out free snow cones and contact-information cards. But some combination of my pride, introversion, desire to be left alone, and aversion to spam emails causes me to live in horror of walking into somebody else’s hullabaloo.

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  1. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Good  post.  Glad I am not a college student any more. When I went to school 5o years ago it was about football and the social scene. Until the Viet Nam protests started up. My only question is: can you cop some free food or booze? If so do it and ignore the left wing propaganda. 

    • #1
  2. Dill Inactive
    Dill
    @Dill

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Good post. Glad I am not a college student any more. When I went to school 5o years ago it was about football and the social scene. Until the Viet Nam protests started up. My only question is: can you cop some free food or booze? If so do it and ignore the left wing propaganda.

    Yeah, I probably miss out on a lot of free food due to my aversion to these situations. (Due to some campus policies, distribution of alcohol is strictly limited, so I don’t think I’ve ever seen a student group handing out beer or anything. Probably happens in Greek Life, though.)

    • #2
  3. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Dill: “Would you like a free safe sex kit?”

    A free safe sex kit sounds intriguing.

    • #3
  4. Dill Inactive
    Dill
    @Dill

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Dill: “Would you like a free safe sex kit?”

    A free safe sex kit sounds intriguing.

    Mostly condoms and the like, I think. They came in little color coded pouches…Red for girls, blue for boys. I had a classmate who clipped hers to the outside of her backpack. (Or maybe she was using the same kind of pouch for something else?) The community college started passing them out after they built a dorm and rumors of incidents and problems started up.

    Anyway, it’s a terribly awkward thing to be offered personal items in the middle of a crowded area when you’re just trying to get to class. And it was a small enough school that somebody you knew likely observed the interaction.

    • #4
  5. HankRhody Freelance Philosopher Contributor
    HankRhody Freelance Philosopher
    @HankRhody

    Dill: One of the ladies, facing the opposite direction, apparently had a clear line of sight toward the microwaves and told me they were inaccessible. “But can we interest you in a free meal?”

    At a family thing this autumn, there were two picnic tables. One I was sitting at, and the food on another. The collected aunts were sitting at the other. I get up to get another hamburger, and mosey over to the other picnic table. The conversation stops. They all look at me.

    “Do you want some ketchup?”

    “Mustard?”

    “Here, there’s lettuce over here.”

    “Linda; pass him the tomatoes.”

    All engines full aft! I escaped with a dry burger.

    • #5
  6. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Dill (View Comment):
    I had a classmate who clipped hers to the outside of her backpack.

    Was she advertising?

    • #6
  7. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    I don’t blame you for having a lot of skepticism about getting sucked into someone else’s event. Often you don’t find out the real agenda until it’s too late. And while the issue may be most common on college campuses, it’s not limited to college campuses. Just yesterday outside the office supply store at which I was printing some documents, I studiously avoided a guy at a table with some type of “anti-bullying” campaign. I didn’t want to spend the time figuring out whether he was a nut job, he had a legitimate program, or he had an impractical or misguided answer to what might be a real problem. Plus, like “anti-racist” people are often the most racist people around, “anti-bullying” people are often bullies. And if I started to engage him, I would have to go through the whole due diligence vetting that would take my time and energy, and perhaps put me in a very uncomfortable position (I too am an introvert). There is good reason to avoid whatever others are trying to suck you into their events. 

    • #7
  8. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    I don’t blame you for having a lot of skepticism about getting sucked into someone else’s event. Often you don’t find out the real agenda until it’s too late. And while the issue may be most common on college campuses, it’s not limited to college campuses. Just yesterday outside the office supply store at which I was printing some documents, I studiously avoided a guy at a table with some type of “anti-bullying” campaign. I didn’t want to spend the time figuring out whether he was a nut job, he had a legitimate program, or he had an impractical or misguided answer to what might be a real problem. Plus, like “anti-racist” people are often the most racist people around, “anti-bullying” people are often bullies. And if I started to engage him, I would have to go through the whole due diligence vetting that would take my time and energy, and perhaps put me in a very uncomfortable position (I too am an introvert). There is good reason to avoid whatever others are trying to suck you into their events.

    Anti-bullying campaigns are a different brand of pro-LGBTetc mobilization efforts.  It doesn’t take long to discover that the “anti-bullies” are often the most skilled bullies.  

    • #8
  9. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Dill: “Would you like a free safe sex kit?”

    My answer:

    “No thank you, but I am interested in free sex.”

    • #9
  10. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=f4CizzE-zZo 

    • #10
  11. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and
    @Misthiocracy

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Dill: “Would you like a free safe sex kit?”

    A free safe sex kit sounds intriguing.

    At the very least it means a few free water balloons.

    • #11
  12. Misthiocracy got drunk and Member
    Misthiocracy got drunk and
    @Misthiocracy

    Stad (View Comment):

    Dill: “Would you like a free safe sex kit?”

    My answer:

    “No thank you, but I am interested in free sex.”

    “Great! That service is provided by Frieda the Bearded Trans-Lady, and there’s no backing out now that you’ve consented to snu snu.”

    • #12
  13. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Dill: “Would you like a free safe sex kit?”

    A free safe sex kit sounds intriguing.

    It’s basically just this t-shirt

    They find that guys who wear this have significantly lower chances of getting a sexually transmitted disease . . .  

    • #13
  14. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Dill: “Would you like a free safe sex kit?”

    A free safe sex kit sounds intriguing.

    I think a safe free sex kit would have a better chance of moving. Of course it depends on how attractive the kit is….

    • #14
  15. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Dill: “Would you like a free safe sex kit?”

    A free safe sex kit sounds intriguing.

    Imagine the intrigue if they were offering free safe sex…🤔

     

    Staded!!!!🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️

    • #15
  16. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Dill:

    “Are you registered to vote at your current address?”

     

    “Yes! And as a registered Democrat, I’m also registered to vote at my future cemetery, four swing states , two Chinese provinces, and an NGO!!” 
    😎😎😎

    <sarcasm off >
    <cynicism always on >

     

    • #16
  17. Dill Inactive
    Dill
    @Dill

    aardo vozz (View Comment):

    Dill:

    “Are you registered to vote at your current address?”

     

    “Yes! And as a registered Democrat, I’m also registered to vote at my future cemetery, four swing states , two Chinese provinces, and an NGO!!”
    😎😎😎

    <sarcasm off >
    <cynicism always on >

     

    I mean, when I first registered to vote, I did it through this organization, and they informed me that there were “important issues on the ballot for this upcoming election, like affordable housing”

    I am all for affordable housing, but I really doubt the voter registration guy and I have the same idea of how housing becomes affordable.

    • #17
  18. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Dill, sounds like you will make out in college just fine. Only suggestion is head to Hillsdale College next. And see my old high school debate pal Paul Rahe. Will teach you lots of good stuff. Probably not much sex stuff though. 

    • #18