Rush hour at The Crossroads can be hectic. With long lines and limited seating, it can be a bit frustrating to try to find a table to sit at. Lately, some people have placed their personal items at a table first before going through the line to ensure they have a space. Others, however, will go through the line and hope that a table will be available afterwards, walking back and forth through The Crossroads.
Colter Chase, a freshman studying English, suggests that people are more comfortable sitting by themselves.
“I feel as if the problem is — I admit with my experience — that it is a lot easier to deal with no one than is to deal with somebody, because you don’t know whether or not you will get along or maybe feel as if you would be boring,” Chase said.
Michael Abel, a professor in the Sociology Department, said people tend to stick to what they know or social norms.
“It’s sort of the norm to want to sit by people you know because you know them, you care about them, you like to be with people that you know,” Abel said. “So if you don’t see a situation like that, what’s the next best thing? Go sit by myself.”
Another reason might be that you don’t want to disturb others.
“It’s more like you don’t want to intrude on their personal space or their life, I guess,” said Rebecca Davenport, a freshman studying art.
Mayli Murdock, a freshman studying English, also worries that approaching someone might annoy them or that they expect you to talk with them.
“I’m kind of more introverted, so I’m awkward and it takes a lot more for me to ask someone if I can sit by them,” Murdock said. “I don’t want to intrude, so I prefer to find my own spot.”
When asked if she would feel uncomfortable if someone asked to sit by her, Murdock responded that she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.
Chase also said that he doesn’t mind people asking to sit with him.
“I will usually try and invite people over,” Chase said. “If I see someone looking around, I’ll call out to them and say ‘Hey, do you need a seat?’”
Davenport suggests another reason why people prefer to sit alone might have something to do with past experiences.
“When you are a little kid and grow up, you have these experiences where people reject you from a group and you don’t want to feel that embarrassment or that negative feeling again, so you decide not to put yourself out there in the future … you want to protect yourself and your feelings from being hurt,” Davenport said.
Jeffrey Oliver, a professor in the Sociology Department said that as humans, we try to avoid feeling pain or rejection and that we tend to remember negative experiences more than positive experiences. Because of these experiences, we focus on what will be safest for us.
“We’re trying to make decisions to protect ourselves … if we are burned once emotionally, we assume that everything that’s anything like that will burn us again, even if it may not be true,” Oliver said.
Davenport said whatever the reason might be, it’s different for every person. Some days, we’re more extroverted; other days, we are more introverted.
Davenport compares this idea to a classroom setting. At first, you sit down in a chair as others file in and keep to yourself. But once someone sits down next to you and talks to you, you begin to feel more comfortable with that person. You may even find yourself making a new friend.
Kalynne Pincock, a senior studying English, said if you find yourself looking for a seat at The Crossroads, find someone who you think you would get along with, or find someone reading or doing homework.
“People who read books are non-threatening,” Pincock said. “If you see someone reading a book, go up to them and say ‘Hey, can I sit here?’ and they probably won’t talk to you while you sit there because they’re reading and you can enjoy your food.”
McKay Bishop, a sophomore studying biology, said the atmosphere at BYU-I is friendly and the people are approachable.
“I already have a connection with them because they’re members of the Church and we have similar standards, and we’re all nice and friendly,” Bishop said. “We all just try to help each other in any way we can.”
Though it may feel awkward at first, Abel reassures that as you reach out and practice interacting with others, it will get easier and begin to feel more natural.
“You’re going to have good experiences sometimes, and you’re going to have bad experiences other times … but if you say that you’re just going to do it, you’ll get really good at it,” Abel said. “It’ll become pretty normal in your mind … we overcome that discomfort by just practicing.”