I hate texting. There are days when I’d rather talk in front of 200 people than text one. Texting seems uniquely designed to prey on every insecurity that I might have.
I stare at the name of someone whom I met recently or that friend I’d lost touch with. After repeatedly convincing myself that any stammering message I attempted to relay would not be met with rolling eyes (too busy curing cancer to reply), I finally broach a conversation.
It’s then that I confront the empty chat bubble daring me to be clever. My procrastination-driving perfectionism kicks in: Too long and my text will be met with yawns. Too short, and it might not be English. Send.
Now the worst part kicks in: the wait. I’d make a terrible internet troll because in my personal social interactions, I desperately crave visual cues on the actual reactions of those I’m talking to. Trying to tabulate how long I should wait to text someone back in order to prove that I am just as busy as they are doesn’t appeal to me. And it feels awkward to make “appointments” with people just to hang out.
This makes me miss the days of high school, when the entire social scene revolved around one central space (for us, the library where nobody read), where you could just go, sit down and speak spontaneously with whomever was there. Not everything needed a plan; not everything required a yes or no response. Not everything involved an evaluation.
When I first got to Yale, a student advised me to treasure that first week, when you could just sit down at anybody’s table and make new friends. But the implicit catch was that these impromptu interactions were only going to last one week; after that, if I wanted to talk to people, every outing required a plan.
But that just didn’t match the community I saw around me at school. Every trip home I always came back with two things: a giant bag of laundry and a few proclamations on how open and inclusive the Yale community was, how you could approach anybody anytime and get an engaged answer.
And yet I wasn’t approaching many people; I wanted people to approach me. I was convinced, despite what I saw, that everyone wanted to only hear from names already within their social lexicons. People here were just too busy for me unless I made that “appointment,” and God knows I wasn’t going to be texting people.
Except these past couple weeks, I HAVE been texting people. I’ve been getting coffee (which I don’t drink) and setting up all of my meals. I’ve been scheduling time with people I’ve talked to frequently and people I’m only just getting to know. I feel happier.
But why have I been able to do this? Because I’ve been actively changing my internal narrative, constantly affirming to myself that everybody wants to talk to me. Always.
I don’t care if it’s true because it will be soon. No matter how curt the text responses are, no matter how long the wait between blue bubbles, no matter how difficult it is to line up our schedules, everybody wants to talk to me.
And when it feels like I’m the only one who’s reaching out, what brings comfort is remembering that everyone else, like me, always wants to be on the receiving end of an invite. It’s my place to extend the welcome — as much as I hate it — because that’s just my personality, and everyone still wants to talk to me.
Of course, this mindset doesn’t extend to outright rejections or when someone you know is angry with you and the situation requires more tact. Self-awareness is important. But for those moments when the world around you seems to be running without you, take a moment to tell yourself that despite the hecticness, everyone still wants to talk to you.
It feels like every student here has at one point decried how campus culture is centered on achievement and tight schedules. Every student has complained that people need to be doing less. Every student has internally wished that their friends made more time for them. That’s not going to ever happen. We didn’t come to Yale to do less; we came to be the best.
But as our schedules become tighter and the risk of feelings of inadequacy and isolation grow larger, we don’t have to be passive. We can shift how we take in our surroundings. We need to throw away the concerns that scheduling our hangouts will feel artificial and fake. And we need to be more actively open even when we don’t feel those around us are being responsive.
Everybody wants to talk to us. Always.
Jacob Hutt is a first year in Silliman College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .