It’s officially week four here at Bowdoin and I’m happy to report that all the first years are finally getting situated. We are proud that we no longer need a map to get to our classes, proud that we officially learned the ropes of College House parties, and most of all, proud that we’ve made some new and reliable friends.
And yet, we are still not totally at home here.
Personally, I am still a little terrified. If you catch me walking by and my shoulders are a little tense, it’s not because I slept in a weird position; it’s because I am paranoid. Despite all of the comforts that week four brings, it is also a dangerous time. You see, when this week began, we reached a point of no return, for now it is no longer acceptable to ask people what their name is.
Maybe this isn’t a problem for everyone. They will advise you to “just ask them again, it might be a little awkward for a second, but in the long run it’s no biggie.”
What these people don’t realize is that after a certain point this is no longer an option. Yes, it’s “no biggie” to ask for someone’s name for the second or third time, but it is very awkward when it’s the twelve-billionth. So, if you’re like me and you’re memory is comparable to that of a goldfish, here are some tips to surviving the name game.
To begin, confidence is key. With the proper poise you can fool anyone into thinking you know exactly who he or she is. If a familiar but unidentified face takes a step in your direction and says something along the lines of, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in like a whole week, what is up?”
DO NOT squint your eyes as you wrack your brain for the first letter of their name. And DO NOT start scratching your head in confusion. Remember to stand up straight. Smile and talk to them like everything is normal. It might be a little terrifying at first, but you will find that for the most part you don’t use names in daily conversation anyway.
Still, if for some reason you do need to address that other person by name, don’t worry because there is a solution—nicknames. Nicknames will be your savior. My go-to word is: “buddy.”
It’s quick and simple, but don’t feel like you can’t get creative. If you’re talking to a freckly person, “freckles” might just work. If you’re talking to someone with curly hair, try “curly.” Don’t be shy. Feel free to start using nicknames like these with all of your friends.
But there are things to avoid. If you’re talking to someone with a blue shirt, “guy with a blue shirt” might be a bit obvious. Make sure the nickname is relevant. If you go too far in the opposite direction and pick something random, for example, “mermaid man,” the other person will just be confused and not respond, which is the opposite of what you’re going for.
If you are successful with your conversation, that mystery person will walk away none the wiser and you will walk away knowing you have avoided a potentially awkward situation.
Chances are that you are going to run into this person again. So, use any means necessary to figure out his or her name. This is done through two methods. First off, you can simply ask a friend. For example, “Hey, you know that guy in our seminar with the wavy hair who’s kind of obnoxious? What’s his name?”
However, if you’re dealing with a person who is too generic to describe you’re going to have to work a little harder. Go through the pic book and learn it well. The pic book is a magical tool that knows all and will be there for you in your times of doubt. It may take a while to find the right face, but when you do, all will be worth it.
The stress of remembering so many names and faces in such a new environment can get to anyone, but loosen your shoulders and lighten up. Remember my advice and anyone can get through this rough period with ease.