Who are you with?

February 16, 2011

So… happy late Valentines Day, everyone! Sorry I didn’t write anything romantic for my readers, I was much too busy going on several hundred dates last night to blog. My bad.

Anyways, speaking of being “with” people, I wanted to post some thoughts about literally being with people, specifically in the dining halls of this fine academy we call UMass. How’s that for a segue? [seg-way]

From Monday to Friday I wake up around 10:30am and go straight to class with no breakfast. My classes end anywhere from noon to 2pm, and by that time I’m beginning to feel the effects of stage-2 starvation so I head to my favorite dining common, Franklin.

As I walk around searching for somewhere to sit I have a choice laid out before me. Do I (A) Try to locate people that I know and sit with them, or (B) Book it to the closest available table and plant it? The answer is almost always “B”.

A lot of people feel uncomfortable eating alone at the DC and make sure in advance that there will be someone there to meet them so they don’t have to go it alone. However I find that there’s a lot to be gained through solitude, and likewise much to be lost through forced company.

For example: Eating alone gives me a chance to reflect on what has happened in my day so far. It allows me to go over what went right and what went wrong, and what I can do to improve. It lets me plan out how the rest of my day will go, and in doing so I remember things that I would have forgotten otherwise, like my over-stuffed laundry basket, or that email I had to send to that professor that I should have sent a week ago.

Even when my mind has nothing to organize, I revel in the experience of being physically alone in public. It grants a certain anonymity that empowers me to act differently than I do around my friends. I can walk differently, talk differently, and most importantly act differently without being scrutinized, because nobody around me knows who I am and so they’ll only question the most outrageous of actions.

This isn’t to say that I go around knocking over chairs and yelling at people in an Australian accent simply because nobody knows me. That would be crazy. (Crazy fun!) Simply put, being alone gives me a freedom that I don’t experience very often.

I could use my anonymous powers for evil by people-watching, but I figure I wouldn’t like to be people-watched, so I try not to do it. Rather I use it to blend in with crowds, in the DC or otherwise. Sometimes while walking on campus, when I’m all anonymous-ed out, I feel like I’m a tiny ant in a colony of thousands, and I imagine everyone around me having a specific job that they’re on their way to do. On the other hand, if I’m walking with a friend then I’ll inevitably lose my sense of how small I am compared to everything in my world, and my ego inflates accordingly. Alone I’m an ant; in a group I’m a wolf in a pack.

Going back to the DC, one of the issues I encounter as I’m finding a table for myself arises when I see someone that I know (or barely know), and the dialogue lasts longer than five seconds…

As you can see, it can be difficult to get my little sliver of peace cashed in when people ask if I want to sit with them. Of course there are times when nothing would make me happier than to reconnect with an old friend or have a group chat, but most of the time I’m very content to eat lunch by myself. So even though I honestly appreciate the generosity behind such an offer, all it usually does is make me feel awkward.

Please though, if you’re reading this [and I know you are (I can see you)], let me be clear: I’m not saying “NEVER INVITE ME TO LUNCH BECAUSE I AM ANTI-SOCIAL AND I WANT TO BE ALONE.” I would love to have lunch with you. I’m just talking about when random people that I don’t really talk to offer me a seat because they feel bad that I’m alone, when really I enjoy it very much.

*Note that this blog is entirely about lunch. Dinner is an entirely separate event in which I always want to be with people and I do feel weird being alone. If you ever see me by myself at dinner it’s okay for you to offer me a seat! I won’t bite you :) haaaaard…

Sorry I didn’t blog for a month, Jen Mageary. I’ll try to do better.

When I was a freshman at UMass I took a psychology course, and probably the most fascinating subject we discussed was the element of attraction. Having recently made some interesting observations, I really wish I could go back and ask my professor about a few things I’ve noticed since finishing the class:

1. A lot of people who are in relationships tend to look like their partner. Not like twins, but they do have similar facial features, just enough to be unnoticeable without close inspection. Maybe people are more likely to be attracted to someone who’s face resembles their own? An interesting theory, one that would take a lot of research to prove.

Before we were dating, a lot of people told my ex and I that we could pass for brother and sister. Creepy, but interesting nonetheless. I’ve seen this happen with my friends as well, and it’s not always the case but a lot of the time it is.

2. A lot of people who start new relationships tend to date partners who look like their ex’s. This could be attributed to the fact that a person may have a “type” and so the people they date are similar, but in the examples I’ve seen it seems to be more than that. Usually it’s because of an unfulfilled relationship with one person, which leaves the other person craving more emotionally, so when they find someone similar to their ex they are instantly more attracted to them, in the subconscious hope of having closure on their previous failed relationship.

A different ex of mine had a years-long crush on one of her friends in high school, which to her chagrin never became anything. In college she met me, and eventually we started dating. I later met the 1st boy when he and a few others came to visit her at school. Not only did he have the same sense of humor as me; he had a similar personality, a similar face, similar hair, even a similar voice. It became very clear to me at this juncture that I was the 2nd boy, and that my relationship may have very well been the result of her unfulfilled relationship with this 1st boy. It was disheartening, but in the end I learned from it.

Also, a boy I knew in high school had a well-known bad relationship with a girl from our school. They split up for whatever reasons and it made both of them very sad and angry. A year later I was facebook creeping and noticed that this boy was in a new relationship, sure enough with a girl who looked exactly like the 1st girl.

Maybe I’m putting too much weight on the experiences of a few, but these observations fascinate me to no end. If you’re ever curious, do some home research yourself. How similar are your exes? How similar are you to your ex’s exes? Take the time to notice these things yourself, and let me know if they hold true or not.