It’s 10 p.m. on a Saturday night. You are at a random suite in Jonathan Edwards, where the only person you know is the host. After minutes of anxious searching, your eyes finally settle upon someone who looks marginally more discombobulated than you are. You walk over from the bar, hoping to strike up a riveting conversation about Sabrina Carpenter’s new album or moral relativism — cue: hey! What do you think of moral relativism? Instead, you are stuck in the worst conversation of your life, floundering to remember the name of the one person from Davenport you know, from your first-year history seminar.  

You are no longer a Yale student. You are a tourist in Northern England, talking to Hadrian’s wall.  Or you are the Greek Titan Atlas. Except you are not carrying the sky. Instead, you are encumbered by the crushing weight of single-handedly moving this inane conversation along. Suddenly, your eyes settle on a friend who walks in. Now is your chance. How do you make a graceful exit? Do you:

(a) Obnoxiously yell your friend’s name across the room with the ferocity of a Miss Universe contestant, then run across the room and throw your arms around them. Anything to get away from the man with the alleged personality of a data entry aficionado. 

(b) Use your childhood experience with magic tricks to point them at the bathroom and disappear while they’re not looking. It’s a misdirection.

(c) Politely explain that you just saw a friend and want to greet them and thank them for their time. 

My writing is not known for its subtlety. And while I wish people would always choose the last option, there is a surprisingly large population of Yalies who choose the first two.

There are few things I value more than good conversations with a stranger. The exhilaration of realizing someone else likes the second season of White Lotus more than the first, the thrill of a rapidly budding friendship. But we hold this truth to be self-evident not all conversations are created equal. Some are hampered by blaring music. Most by exhaustion. Another few by severe incompatibility. As someone who appreciates emotional awareness, I am sympathetic to the need to leave a conversation — to assess that the situation is terminal and to amputate the gangrenous limb before it consumes your entire night. But I am heavily critical of people whose approach to ending conversations contains either the adroitness of a rhinoceros, or the transparency of a midnight burglar. 

To be fair, it is not as though the people I am referring to are a monolith. Some of them are your average Yalie — emotionally intelligent, well-intended, and just having an uncharacteristically thoughtless night. Others are thoughtful enough to signal — “I’ll get a drink and be back.” They won’t be back. They have strayed further than Nemo. But at least you knew it was coming. 

Others yet try to end the conversation but succeed only to utter a few “so’s” and “uhh’s” before pulling the half-hearted “need to head out and do something” card. I have been them too. I, too, have been foiled by bouts of awkwardness. 

And then there are the people with whom your ill-fated conversation is doomed from the start. The guy who is looking over your shoulder to see who else is at the party as you are introducing yourself. The sophomore at a rush event who is clearly reading everyone’s name tags to scan for current upperclassmen members to schmooze. The girl who looks like she brought a piece of her private high school with her to Yale. Don’t blame yourself. You never stood a chance. You don’t look like you know the token billionaire in their friend group. 

These are the 10 percent of the Yale population who still measure popularity by the concentration of people you can smile at inside a High Street frat. How much better their life would be when they realized how interesting the majority of Yalies are, and how open to connection they are willing to be. In Marathi, we have a term for this archetype — jagmitra, friend of the world. If you’ve met someone who cannot be at a party for more than 23 minutes, or someone who makes so many rounds you’d think they’re the magnetic field outside a wire, you know one of these. But while these folk are certainly the objects of my writerly contempt, they are not the intended audience of my advice.

The reason I write this, then, is for the rest. The emotionally adept, authentic majority who have probably never thought about what a small difference ending a conversation well can make. It can leave someone feeling slightly less abandoned in an already unfamiliar space. Or slightly less anxious about why you decided to slip away without a trace. I don’t expect people to introduce the stranger you were just talking to, to the friend you just saw and host an inclusive conversation. That is not a standard I can consistently meet. Nor do I expect people to muster the honesty to say “it was nice meeting you but I am going to talk to the stranger standing in that corner over there.” I am not forthright enough for that. 

But politely excusing yourself — under the guise of getting a drink, going to the bathroom or simply moving on — is a small change that can make a large difference in someone’s night. Disappearing acts are better left for George Washington’s fake teeth. 


PRADZ SAPRE is a junior in Benjamin Franklin College. His fortnightly column “Growing pains” encapsulates the difficulties of a metaphorical “growing up” within the course of a lifetime at Yale. He can be reached at


Pradz Sapre is a senior in Benjamin Franklin College majoring in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and the Humanities. His fortnightly column “Growing pains” encapsulates the difficulties of a metaphorical “growing up” within the course of a lifetime at Yale. He can be reached at