When do you say hello? A guide for the overly friendly

Two things about me: I am obscenely friendly, and I have the memory of a metaphorical elephant. Taken apart, neither of these qualities would really be considered negative, but put them together and I become the orchestrator of awkward moments galore.

I am the girl who, senior year, remembers that one time I shook your hand at a Keeney party in 2009. Sometimes I pretend I don’t, because I don’t want to make you feel bad for — unsurprisingly — not remembering me. But then the big question arises: do I say hello to you as we pass on the Main Green in the rush between classes?

If you’re as freaky as me, this is a legitimate dilemma. When do you suppress your urge to befriend all 6,000+ students at this university for the sake of not making people uncomfortable? And when should you embrace your encyclopedic memory? Here’s how I manage:

  • Follow the “inverse bell curve” theory: You met someone last week? Go for it, say hello. Two years ago? Well, that might be a little strange. If you run into someone you recognize from way back in the day, though, give into the nostalgia and re-introduce yourself. Last year, I saw a guy at an AEPi party who I’d gone to sleepaway camp with in 2003. I didn’t say hi, but I should have.
  • Do you have mutual friends? If so, say hi. Especially if you have close mutual friends, this gives you a totally not-weird reason to know someone. If you say hello to each other enough, you might even become real friends with each other.
  • Learn how to read people’s personalities. Easier said than done, I know. But some people will be thrilled and flattered that you remember that one time you complained to each other about the price of sushi while waiting in the endless checkout line in the Blue Room, while others will think you’re the creepiest person alive. If you can tell the difference, you’re golden.

Of course, there’s also a chance you don’t overthink things as much as I do, or you’re (enviously) able to shrug off awkward moments — in that case, ignore all this advice and keep on being friendly. After all, there are far worse things you could be!

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