Icebreakers. Great in theory, and the epitome of cringe worthy in practice.
Every class I have attended in college has started out with these awkward experiences.
Nod your head if you can relate to the dread of hearing, “Okay, tell us your name, your major, and one fun fact about yourself.”
The first two are straightforward, and it would be more palatable if it stopped there.
I want to stand up and say, “Fun fact about me, I did not work in a 110-degree kitchen all summer cooking for insufferable customers to come back to college to talk about myself.”
For those who want to share and be heard, that’s great and on behalf of the introvert community I commend you.
Most of us just want to get started with the class.
We won’t remember most of the names of our classmates because the expectations of college just don’t leave us much brain matter to do so.
Like the memes depict, we’re asked as students to get internships, get good grades, maintain friendships, save money, make money, all with the impending doom of finding a job in a market that is rapidly changing.
Let’s agree to not even discuss the loans because this is a dry campus and it’s all a rigged scam anyway.
So, the next time you have an icebreaker in a class, try some of these for size.
“Fun fact, I’m (insert name here) and I’m incredibly stressed about what I need to get done.”
If this is too generic, you can try this,
“I’m a (insert year here) and I can’t find a job because the entry level position in my field wants five years’ experience and it’s a vicious cycle.”
In all fairness, I understand the professor’s plight.
Most genuinely want to know who they are teaching and do care.
It’s just that by the time we get to the third class of introductions, it becomes about as welcome as an emergency root canal.
Also, for some people, their lives are hard, plain and simple.
For some, the best part of summer is that it’s over.
For others, the fun fact about their life is that they’re in school to be the first in their family to graduate and to try to move up the socioeconomic ladder.
The last thing people in these situations want to do is to try to introduce themselves to people they can’t relate to and may see once or twice around campus.
It’s good that professors want to engender a sense of community on campus.
That sense of connection happens best when it’s organic, not forced sitting in a circle and desperately trying to avoid eye contact with anyone else, especially the professor.
None of the friends that I met through the three colleges I attended were because of icebreakers.
They were because ether I missed class and needed the notes, or they shared the same disdain I have for long-winded lectures and I made a joke or two to pass the time.
Socializing is important, and we should spend less time milling about staring at our phones.
However, it should be on us as students to reach out and make friends at our pace and leisure.
Sometimes, in a world where everyone is seemingly accessible instantly we need our own space.
As the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said, “Hell is other people.”
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