Five ways to recover from everyday humiliation in college

Thursday, July 25, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — In your four years at MU (give or take), you will inevitably find yourself in an embarrassing situation.

As these are most likely going to happen sooner rather than later, here’s how to handle the heat.

Tripping on those dang bricks on Lowry Mall:  Located between Ellis Library and the Student Success Center, this area is known for some seriously rough terrain.

OK, so it’s not like the jungle, but if you don’t trip yourself up even slightly during your freshman year on the uneven bricks, you should probably pursue a career as a gymnast.

We’ve seen people play it off well, and we’ve also seen people flat-out face plant. We suggest you plug in your earphones and quickly rush to wherever you were going without making eye contact.

Thinking you’ve spotted an empty booth in the Student Center, only to realize it’s already occupied: It’s finals week, you’re tired and you need a quiet place to study away from your roommate’s trashy TV obsession.

So naturally, scoring an empty booth in the Student Center is like striking gold. Spoiler alert: It’s probably too good to be true.

If someone is already sitting in your promised land, there’s only one thing you can do: Give the evil eye and act like the person is the dweeb who just did something obnoxious. Then proceed to cry at one of the normal tables like the rest of us mortals.

Seeing someone you think you recognize on campus. This will happen pretty frequently during your first few weeks. Get used to the awkward interactions and put on a game face.

If you notice someone who looks familiar, just say hello. If someone really gets annoyed by your random attempt at friendly conversation, the joke’s on them.

Wandering around campus with absolutely no idea where you’re going: You’re lucky enough to be coming to Missouri’s biggest university. But this also means there’s a strong chance you’re going to get turned around on your way to class a few times.

Not to worry, it happens all the time — occasionally even to students who’ve been navigating it like pros for years. Find someone who looks particularly knowledgeable and ask for directions.

Running into professors or TAs in public places: Wait, professors have lives outside of the classroom? Weirdly enough, they do.

You're more than likely to run into one or two downtown. There’s no way to get out of this one. Just say hello and move on with your day — unless one or both of you are under any sort of alcoholic influence.

In that case, turn and run. That’s an experience so ghastly it’s best to avoid at all costs.

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