When I decided to take a freshman Introsem as a senior, the last thing I expected was to walk into class the first day and immediately make the most awkward eye contact with a boy I ghosted on Bumble fall quarter. I mean, the ghosting was necessary when I realized that he was a freshman. It wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t sit through class hyper-aware of every single time I moved my hand or wrote something down, considering all the possible ways he could potentially misread my body language. In other classes, I expect to see people I know and have awkward histories with. But it’s not even halfway through the year. I shouldn’t have even had enough time yet to burn any bridges with freshmen.
Over winter break, when I figured out that no, the interdisciplinary nature of my major does not mean that I get to ignore my WAYS requirements completely and hope that they all balance out in the end, I frantically mass-emailed seven professors begging them to let me into their already overenrolled Introsems. I enrolled in the first one that got back to me. In my frantic state, I didn’t consider how weird it would actually be. This wasn’t my first time taking an Introsem. Actually, looking back now I do recall that one weird senior in the last Introsem I took as a freshman. Was that going to be me?
I walked in and sat next to two frosh conversing about where they live. The first said, “Casa Zapata. It’s in Stern.” The other said, “Arroyo, in Wilbur.” The professor was eight minutes late. We went around the room introducing ourselves while I sat there sweating about how I was going to spin any of my very limited experience taking STEM classes into a narrative that convincingly hid the fact that I was only taking it for WAYS. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few cases I think I actually appreciate radical transparency in, and this is definitely one of them, but I’m never sure if the professor feels the same. It’s also about priming the experience, speaking it into existence or whatever. If I’m going to be spending three units on a class, I might as well try to get something out of it, and that can only happen if I think there’s something out of it to get.
Despite my concern, the icebreakers were fine. To my utmost astonishment, there were five other seniors in the class, as this class meets exactly during the time that most row houses serve dinner. It also reminded me of how uncomfortable I felt for so long in most of my classes. There’s a certain comfort in taking a class that’s in your field of expertise. There’s also a certain comfort in having been through it all a bunch of times before. As a senior, I’ve finally started to feel more at ease in my classes; they feel less like I’m struggling to put on a performance, especially as I’ve been taking more creative writing classes, where I still feel starstruck by both my peers and professors for being so extraordinary, but at least I have the vocabulary to talk about things with them.
I’ve felt so out of my element in this class that I haven’t said a word since the icebreaker.
This past class, I sat down in the corner that I usually sit in, next to a boy I didn’t think to identify. As I waited eight minutes for the professor to turn up, I heard him say, “Eleni?” I looked up. It was someone I knew from study abroad. “Oh wow, hi! Did you just join the class?”
“Yeah! Did you see the roster? It’s mostly upperclassmen.”
“Oh, what? I guess a bunch of freshmen must’ve dropped.” After the first class I never saw Bumble boy again. I never got the chance to tell him that my ghosting was primarily due to my concern with coming off as a predator. It had nothing to do with him.
“Are you taking it for WAYS?” he asked me.
“Oh cool, same.”