The awkward hello


You look up and there he is—that guy you met last night at that Snu senior house with the name you just can’t remember.

He’s all the way at the other end of the hall, and it is just the two of you. You scramble for your phone so that you can look like you didn’t see him, look like you have friends that really love texting you, look like you are “chill.” Step by step you get closer to one another. You glance up at him. He’s staring intently at an apparently extremely interesting spot on the ceiling. Your mind is racing and you don’t know what to do. You need to make a decision, and you need to make it fast.

Do you say hi?

You are leaving the library at the same time as a girl from your first year seminar walks in. You sidestep each other, while you hold the door, but you are cringing at whether or not to acknowledge that you guys know each other. You weren’t friends, but there were a few times you made a point in class and she would look and nod in agreement, but maybe she doesn’t remember. You have to make a split-second decision.

Do you say hi?

This question plagues us each day we live in the Butler Bubble. With an undergraduate program that has fewer than 5,000 people, those you actually know begin to blur together with the ones you met perhaps once, or maybe even only stalked on social media.

When is it appropriate to say hi to someone, and when is it OK to put your head down and keep walking?

Now that I am older, there are people I have grown apart from.

When my mom and I go places, I almost always see someone I have either been friends with when I was really little or someone I would just rather pretend I never knew. However, the “Hayley, isn’t that ‘insert-name-here’ from middle school? Go say hi,” is a comment I cannot seem to escape.

I almost always say no.

I also strongly believe most people would agree with that decision. I believe that if you saw that guy from the party the night before, you would have looked down and kept walking.

I believe that if you saw that girl from your freshman year seminar class last year, you would have held the door open but then walked away.

Yet isn’t it just easier to say hi?

If you always say hi, there is no stress in wondering whether or not to say it.

If you always say hi, then you can never feel bad right afterward about not saying it.

If you always say hi, then you will never risk hurting someone’s feelings.

If you always say hi, then maybe that hello will turn into something more.

It isn’t hard to do. It’s just something we aren’t used to. We would all rather pretend than risk being the awkward one to initiate the conversation. Our society has trained us to ignore one another rather than take the risk. Today I tried to always say hi, and although I wasn’t perfect, I said hi to at least half of those that I wouldn’t have before. Hopefully soon I’ll have the courage to always say it; maybe you can too.




  1. Allie said:

    HAYLEY!!! this is so great! i am going to start saying hi to everyone because, you’re right ,why not say it?!!
    love you!