Of course it happens—it is bound to happen. Regardless of
why, there is always the chance of walking around on campus,
obliviously passing someone you may know and, therefore,
neglecting to exchange a friendly wave or a greeting hello.
Before I go any further, I’d like to establish a clear understanding
of the many factors I’ve taken into consideration before I talk
about the way we interact with others. Overall, stress seems to
be an almost constant companion in our lives and learning to
manage it can be a very difficult task. Also, we all have distractions
in our lives and, depending on the amount and extremity of
them, it may be easy to find ourselves a little more detached,
unfocused or perhaps simply on edge. We all have different
coping mechanisms, different ways of processing what’s going on
in our lives and different ways of dealing with our emotions. We
all stem from different families, were raised with distinct values
and maintain unique ideas about what is considered acceptable,
polite and respectful. The experiences that have helped shape
who we are today differ tremendously.
However, in my mind, none of these complex and extensive
factors weighs up enough. None of these differences provide
valid justification for the discouraging lack of basic, courteous
social graces seen among a large number of us, far too often.
I cannot tell you how many times I walk on campus, see
someone I know and prepare to say hello in passing, only to
find their eyes averted elsewhere in an attempt to shy away from
interaction. In other words, that other person blatantly pretends
not to have seen me.
It does not just happen to me, I see it happen to my friends
as well. I’m confident that it is not just an occurrence here at
Villanova, but that it most likely happens on college campuses
across America, I find this disconcerting. Ever since I first realized
how common this type of interaction (or lack of) occurs, I’ve
been troubled, bewildered and simply bothered by the fact that
It is sadly a scenario I can describe with much ease. A girl
walks along, sees someone she knows to some extent in the
distance, plans to say hello or wave, but is then turned down and
discouraged from this simple and friendly act because she is
denied the chance to do so. Even after a moment of eye contact
in which both parties can clearly see the other, the one guilty
person quickly looks away, as if such rapid movement can erase
the fact that they recognized one another in the first place.
Just as great a method is the classic, “gaze-at-my-phone-intently and-pretend-to-be-invested” method. Again, we all easily pass someone without realizing it sometimes, but the times when we
just ignore that someone are the ones I cannot fully understand.
Something essential to know about me—I am not a purely
extroverted girl who feels the need to engage in conversation
constantly, nor am I one who finds it sinful to spend time alone.
I am naturally more of a soft-spoken girl who appreciates quiet
time as well, both while alone and with people. My opinion is not
coming from the position of someone who desires to be at the
center of everything or well-known by everyone.
Nevertheless, I am a girl who values communication and
connection with others immensely. Perhaps that is why it feels so
wrong to just ignore someone else, especially in such an effortless,
natural exchange. I just do not see the point or the gain.
The University is truly a special place that prides itself on its
sense of community and passion, and this is something I firmly
believe. I have met many incredibly kind-hearted, friendly people
while here and I’m experiencing how this school can and always
will be an inextricable part of me. No person will ever be perfect,
but for all of us who feel the way I do, we should not have to
deal with any frustrations over such a simple issue as exchanging
greetings…especially not here.
I used to just accept this issue as one of the many things out
of my control and would reassure myself by acknowledging that,
while I may see the problem here, others may not. However, the
longer I walk the grounds of this beautiful campus, the more I
realize that this is something I indeed feel strongly about. My
hope is that these words will strike some type of self-reflection.
My hope is to raise even just an ounce of awareness, so that the
next time you are approaching someone you know, you won’t
ignore them, but will treat them instead as the worthy, social
acquaintance they are, by the simple means of a friendly smile,
wave hello or utterance of a pleasant greeting.
“Veritas, unitas, caritas”—all symbols of compassion that define
Villanova’s incomparable spirit—should always be remembered
in situations that are seemingly the most trivial because in the
end, those situations can be the ones that matter most.