Unwanted attention: the phrase that plagues everyone in this world besides Shia Labeouf and puppies.
Below, you’ll find ten types of unwanted attention (some serious, some a little less), and all the ways in which I’ve learned to deal with them over the course of my earthly existence.
1. Being called on in class
This happened to me a lot in my high school pre-calc class, probably because my teacher knew I couldn’t tell her what Avogadro’s number was to save my butt. Like, I had to wear an extra coat of deodorant on quiz days lest I sweat buckets through my t-shirt over graphing a rational function.
The way I see it, you can either burst into flames like a phoenix and rise from the ashes after the bell rings, or you can spit out your answer for participation points and THEN burst into flames like a phoenix and rise from the ashes after the bell rings. What you’re probably afraid of is getting the answer wrong. Guess what? If you get an answer wrong, your teacher will go over how to get it right, and then everyone wins. Except Shia Labeouf, who neither wins nor loses but sifts through reality as an eternal object of the public’s gaze.
It’s not hard to pick out trolls from the internet dungeon. Sticking your wand up their nasal passage is easier said than done, though. The best advice anyone (including former internet trolls) can give you for dealing with these suckers is to delete every single one of your social media accounts and retreat into a life of hermitude, or, more plausibly, give them the unadulterated silent treatment. They’re looking for an argument, so don’t bite, and they won’t bite back.
These usually come from aunts, uncles, neighbors, twice-removed relatives. Or, in my case, the Eye of Sauron (read: seven-year-old cousins who ask me to repeat the reasons why I do or do not have a boyfriend so many times that I’m forced to escape to the basement for a brief respite with their cat). Attention in the form of unwanted questions about your love life, or why you have a piece of jewelry in your nose and what happens to it when you catch a cold, can get real old, real quick. Best bet: Ask your inquirer whether they’ve tried the cheese log and then excuse yourself to watch the Sherlock special.
4. Unrequited flirting
Once, in kindergarten, my classmate stood behind me in line and followed me no matter how many times I changed positions to escape his wrath, and I cried.
I haven’t been flirted with that hard since, but I did learn that crying doesn’t do much in these situations. That’s all I have for you on this one. Auntie SparkNotes, however, has some better advice. Brandish your notebooks, and then click over here and also over here.
I’m camera-shy enough to know that my hand-on-my-face reflex when a camera’s pulled out is probably stronger than the reflex in my knee when the doctor taps it with that triangle on a stick. My first piece of advice is to stop caring what you look like in photos. i.e., stop untagging yourself on Facebook, asking friends to delete photos you think you look bad in, spending ten minutes trying to figure out if that’s a freckle or a piece of peppercorn on your face. WHO CARES? You’re cute, and your better side is both sides.
A happy alternative would be to jump up and yell, “Let me take the picture! You get in there!” and then excuse yourself to the dessert buffet.
6. Snoopy parents
This one is tough, because I’m not a parent. Neither are you, probably. So why do parents pry? I have no idea. Like I said, I’m not a parent. What I do know is that the best way to deal with this is by using your strong vocabulary to convey your feels. Communication solves most things, actually, like group projects or the Cold War. And your situation with your parents is probably less tough than both of those things.
Examples of effective communication:
“Mom, can you please respect my privacy?”
“Mom, I’d really appreciate it if you’d stop asking about the presence or absence of romantic feelings between my science project partner and I. We’re just trying to research Alaskan salmon.”
“Mom, it’d be cool if you trusted me to make the right choices concerning my extracurricular activities, including, but not limited to, my participation in the Future Cheesemongers of America club.”
This is the most serious piece of unwanted attention on the list, so I’m about to get real. First thing’s first: Being on the receiving end of a catcall has _nothing_ to do with your appearance. Keep wearing whatever you’re wearing, people.
Second, try not to fight fire with fire—as much as you might have the urge to scream when this happens to you or someone near you, it’s more effective to put their words/actions way, way beneath you. Roll your eyes. Try a “That’s pathetic.” Flip them off, if you must (very satisfying).
If you’re not one to be confrontational, try a different approach: Pretend to get a phone call from Mr. President. Change subway cars. Begin to interpretive dance about your burning rage.
8. Self-inflicted embarrassment
Turning into a beet is mostly inevitable, so the best way to combat all-eyes-on-you embarrassment has to come from deep within. Fix your tie, up your chin, and then play it off so smoothly that no one even notices the hue of your cheeks. E.g. Your skirt’s tucked into your underwear = “It’s taking over the runways💁” You’re the first in a long line of people who’ve been waiting for the elevator for five minutes when you realize you never pressed the button = “Just seeing if you guys were paying attention, haaaa.” You’re mechanical bull-ed off a treadmill = *McKayla Maroneys*
Everyone will be like Wow, that girl really doesn’t care what other people think about her. I will chuckle, but will move on with my day and subsequently forget I ever witnessed that mishap.
The first time I McKayla Maroney-ed was when I tripped in slow-motion in the middle of an intersection, kind of like this except worse because I’m not a cute French bulldog and it was in Times Square. My tights and dignity might’ve been shredded, but tights are replaceable and so is dignity.
There’s also no greater weight off the shoulders than relaying the entire story of an embarrassing moment in the minutes/hours/days after it happens. Call you friend once you’ve collected yourself and scream into the speaker, “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENEDDddDDd”
Zitzzzzz. Your face’s way of telling you there’s an important social function you must attend in your near future (thx got it, face). Best thing you can do if someone is staring at one is to say “YEEEAP, got a big ol’ zit on my chin. Thinking about naming it if it doesn’t go away by tomorrow. What’d you get for question five?”
TFW you’re just trying to find the last couple horcruxes but the intruder alarm goes off. Best bet: hide behind some picnic tables until you stumble upon Dumbledore’s long lost brother’s goat and make a beeline for the Room of Requirement via a hidden tunnel behind Ariana (Grande?)’s portrait.
How do you deal with caterwauling charms/unwanted attention?