Section: Opinion

Confessions of an upperclassman talkaholic

Hello Collegian readers. Is that too formal? Hey folks, how’ve you been? All that snow and cold, am I right? Listen, all I want to do is be your friend and wave to you as I navigate the slip n’ slide icy paths to Peirce every morning like Truman Burbank in a Gambier-enclosed Truman Show. Getting a perfectly timed (and reciprocated) greeting is as satisfying to me as it must be for elite gymnasts to stick a 10.0 landing. As a place that always ends up nabbing a high-ranking spot on friendliest college’s lists, Kenyon should perk up and accept my small talk.

Because I can carry out a conversation with anything as long as there is not a requirement for a refined verbal filter, I have also come to appreciate the awkward, stale exchanges of small talk. When I was four years old, my family used to frequent one of those kitschy Christmas-all-year-round shops to see this animatronic Christmas tree that greeted shoppers with a few prerecorded conversational nuggets. Since I learned how, I have always been a talker and I found this plastic tannenbaum a perfect conversation partner.

My love for talking coincides with some hyperactive sensibilities, ensuring that my brain and mouth go so fast that they speed past any checks for appropriateness or rationality. I have gotten used to this personal attribute getting me into some uncomfortable moments. As I am a hardened veteran of awkward conversations, I can smell the fear on others who try to evade them. Out of spite I will drag such individuals into the battle of a small talk session outside the servery and chat amiably about a class we share. Like the bad cop in an interrogation, I will not let up until the pauses in between the empty conversation are longer than 30 seconds, or until the participant registers and fears my ability to withstand gale-force levels of awkward. I guess you could say I’m an adrenaline junkie.

An endearing article recently published in The Thrill acted as evidence that everyone feels the tangible awkwardness of new friend conversations by playfully discussing ways in which first years can interact with juniors who went abroad last semester. I spent my fall in Dublin and found the article’s joking take on newly returned abroad students as celebrities to kiss up to strangely flattering and upsetting at the same time. Part of me is dying to declare one of those faux modest “oh, yes, despite all the attention I’m just an average American girl,” lines that entertainment magazines blow up to a big, bold, block quote in order to suggest that while it is the information we all wanted to read (I am average too, and therefore I can be friends with Jennifer Lawrence), it is somehow surprising. The other, less annoying part of me wants to break the boundaries of this upper/underclassmen distance with friendship. I love my friends that I have made here dearly (even more if they are reading this article) but I always feel like I am missing out on the college experience of making a bunch of different aged buddies that the regimented system of high school did not allow. I fear that now this article has morphed from into a warning as I say: watch out, underclassmen. I am talkative, I am readjusting, and I don’t take “this might be awkward” for an answer. But behind all that, I am really just an average American girl.

Annie Sheslow ’15 is an English major from Wilmington, Del. You can contact her at


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