Why the telephone brings out my stupid side

Often the flip side of parties, and the other element of student existence which unites us all, is embarrassment. That sinking feeling, that adrenalin kick when you spot the witnesses to one of your more inelegant moments in Vanbrugh dining hall – it’s familiar to the lot of us.

And it’s not just drunken party antics that can get you down; anything from falling off your bike or being particularly obnoxious in a seminar gets that paranoia buzzing. The combination of youthful naiveté, an overactive imagination and an exaggerated sense of self-importance can make existing at all seem an offence.

One of my least favourite things to do is talk on the phone. I hate it; without fail, it makes me blush. Face to face, people can see your narcissistic nerves, making you speak like a grammatically inept loser, in the tremble of your wrist; over the phone, they just think you’re stupid. The telephone takes away that reassuring feeling that everyone else is equally self-obsessed and won’t notice all your little slip-ups as they’re too busy mentally noting their own.

When I’m old and zen, I hope to call people all the time, sometimes even when I don’t need something – just to chat. I like to think that looking back on my undergraduate years I’ll realise that what I learnt in three years of study was not how to deconstruct constructivists, but how to cope with myself. Even when I ask someone returning from Venice, ‘Oh lovely, don’t you love Austria’, or when I smash things in bars and get a standing ovation, I’ll just sigh and remember that my cats will always love me, so long as I keep feeding them anyway.

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