Sometimes, whether we have a social life or not, it can be hard to exist without feeling self-conscious about not having friends when doing things like eating or walking to class. But in times like these, it isn’t about whether you actually have friends or not — it’s about whether other people think you have friends.
You are not delusional, just calling someone
“Oh, stop saying that, it wasn’t that funny. You think I’m funny?” someone says to the air, laughing at nothing. Perhaps you’ve questioned what they were doing, even wondering if they were delusional, before seeing a pair of wireless earbuds in their ears and sheepishly retracting your previous thoughts. But think about it some more. What if there wasn’t actually anyone on the other end of those earbuds? What if they were just talking to themselves? You, a stranger, will never have any way to verify this unless you run up to them and manhandle their phone from them. But unless you want to get the police called on you for assault and robbery, it’s really not worth it.
Rejoice, however, because this means that you can employ similar strategies. Take a pair of earbuds or a phone and act as if you are calling someone. No one needs to know that these devices are actually off. If you have no friends and you have spent most of your life talking to yourself, then pretending you are calling someone will be easy.
The settings app is really interesting
The trick with this is to look cool, unbothered and definitely not at all awkward. Lean against a wall — very important — slip a hand in your pocket and look relaxed. Chill, as some may say. Take out your phone, open it and check your texts. If you unfortunately have no texts, start joining group chats for random activities or clubs and scroll through those group messages. If you are also not part of any random clubs, it’s time to do the classic strategy of opening your settings app. Because you are leaning against a wall, no one can see that you aren’t texting one of your 631 friends. The way you diligently tap from your general settings to storage to data usage is probably a convincing display of how social and well-connected you are.
The magic of working
Don’t you hate eating alone in a dining hall, or worse, asking for a table for one in a restaurant? It is the hallmark of being considered a loser — sitting alone and munching on a bagel, looking around like a lost child. If you hate the pitiful gazes people shoot at you as they walk by at O’Hill, simply take out your laptop, some papers, maybe a pencil and spread them out over your table. The moment you pull out the work, you undergo a magical transformation from a sad loser to a diligent academic machine, who will sacrifice all their friends to get that 4.0 GPA or die trying. Working while eating? Food and pen in hand? You must have an insane course load or incredible grades. The mere presence of a laptop will change the way people look at you. Of course you’re eating alone, you’re working! You wouldn’t want any of your friends to distract you. What a well-adjusted, smart cookie you are.
You are not stalking them, you are friends with them
If all else fails and you find yourself without a phone, earbuds or any paper or a laptop, look for a group of friends. Make sure there’s a decent amount of them, because if there’s only three or so, this tip will not work. If they’re walking together, start trailing behind them. Start further away, but gradually get closer over time, so subtly they won’t even notice you’re there. Start looking like you’re part of whatever conversation they’re having, maybe even nod and look like you’re laughing. Don’t actually laugh or make noise, though. The key is to shadily — I mean strategically place yourself and behave so that outsiders think you’re friends with them, while making sure the group does not know you have been creepily following them for the past 15 minutes. If you happen to have gotten tangled up with a University tour group, you can even throw in a “Wahoowa!” to create the perfect camouflage. They might even think you are lost and invite you into their group.
These tips apply to a broad variety of situations, and all work well to give you the flawless appearance of having a vibrant and enriching social network. If you find yourself afraid of getting caught in the act, don’t worry — sometimes, getting asked why you have been staring at the settings app on your phone for 20 minutes is less painful than actually trying to talk to people and make friends.