With a few weeks of classes in my second semester of college under my belt, I began to notice some familiar faces in each of my three entry-level film courses. As we got a general idea of the curriculum for the classes, I used the guise of study group/homework help to con several individuals into social engagement. I figured it would be worth the time to pretend to be a social learner, even though I’ve never gotten much out of studying with another person.
My heartbeat was racing and my pit stains threatened to breach my flannel jacket as I approached a girl with short hair, black rimmed glasses, and a tiny nose piercing. “You’re in three of my classes. We should be friends,” I gasped, hoping that a dainty handshake would suffice because if this girl was a hugger she would definitely have felt the anxiety soaking through my coat. In addition to spitting the words violently in her direction, I must have put enough force behind the introduction to broadcast it to everyone in the vicinity, because the awkward exchange drew the attention of others nearby. Capitalizing on the attention, I picked up a few more introductions and phone numbers.
Only two of these were of any note. The girl’s name was Elle (not really, but see the About page for elaboration on that), and through her I would meet some of my closest friends of that semester. She seemed shy enough at first, but really she was a social butterfly with that extraverted compulsion to always be doing something entertaining with someone. She was almost like another OJ. Our ensuing friendship would reach very high peaks before crashing and burning, but that’s something that I will be peppering throughout future blog posts just to make sure everyone is still paying attention.
The second was Jay (again, see the About page on why this guy’s name wasn’t really Jay). In addition to being a nice guy with cool taste in movies and a great professional attitude, Jay was roommates with one of Ben’s friends from back home. In the following months, I would discover that Ben had been sleeping on a couch at Jay’s dorm on campus, hence his total absence from my life and the ping pong table that I used to fill the void he left.
It was the most aggressive I had been about making friends since arriving in Orlando. It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty effective. Just the triumph of putting myself out there and having friends to show for it ramped up my confidence for the rest of the semester.
Meeting people can be extremely uncomfortable, but it isn’t all that hard. You just have to stop giving a crap about what they think. If you put yourself out there and they like you, then that first impression wasn’t as bad as you thought. If they reject you, then they won’t be around in your life enough for it to ever really matter.
The experience was one that I mirrored countless other times over the course of that semester until I got out of my shell enough to figure out just who the hell I really am deep down inside.
These two relationships led to bigger things in the form of dozens of new friends, consistent weekend plans, heartbreak and the discovery of self-worth, and most importantly, a short-film titled, “Evil Beer.”