Nicolas Scagnelli

I do this thing every day where I say hi to a random person. It’s not just one person a day. I usually try to say hello to as many people as I can. Not for any particular, grand reason. It’s just fun for me. Most of the people I say hi to seem very caught off guard by it. They usually say hi back, but in kind of an awkward, why-are-you-doing-this way. And I get it. Nowadays, as sad as it is, many people stick to themselves. Saying hi to a stranger is just kind of a weird thing to do. But I don’t give a damn.

This is something that admittedly took me a while to do. I think it might have started with the advent of COVID-19. I used to go on walks all the time. Just to clear my head, and to maybe hopefully get some human interaction that wasn’t my family. I felt so awkward walking by strangers and not saying anything. I starved for any kind of interaction, I just started to say “hello” or “how are ya?” to random strangers. And it felt great. I carried this over to my college career, since I would soon be an incoming freshman at the time.

Yeesh, when I think about that first semester of college, I feel so mixed. On one hand, it was spring 2021, so the pandemic rules were still strictly enforced. I still snuck into my friends’ dorms, sue me. It sucked, because there weren’t a ton of people on campus, and wearing a mask all the time was honestly tough to make connections with people. On the other hand, it wasn’t. I made a friend group within the first week of getting here, and I still hang out with those jerks to this day. How did I meet them? I just put myself out there.

When I think about my college career and reflect on it, I immediately go to the people I love. I’m talking about my friends here. Don’t get me wrong, I do think about the romantic stuff, but those come and go, especially in college. Maybe I focus on the more serious relationships — the relationships where I learned stuff from the other person, but I like to think about my friends. My friends are still in my life too, so that helps. This whole senior column thing is a great excuse to go over all this sappy stuff.

I say sappy as a joke obviously. College taught me so many things. About the world, about myself and about other people. Living on your own is a crazy thing. You can have people over whenever you want, stay up as late as you want, and do whatever the hell you want. I made a ton of friends my first year. Some of them I haven’t seen in a long ass time, but I still remember their faces. Again, that helps when you’re trying to say hi to people. Even if you don’t remember someone’s name, if you remember their face and say hello to them, they’ll most likely be friendly back.

I used to not go out that much. Until I got out of a relationship and I wanted to put myself out there more. I was leaving Tom’s one night, and on the super long line, I ran into three different people who knew me. This one guy came up to me and we caught up, and he was all like “yo dude, you always say hi to me and my friend and I see you in the gym all the time and you can cut the line with us if you want.” I thought it was funny, because I remember seeing this guy all the time sophomore year. Shoutout to Eric.

That small moment honestly made my night. I had a couple other people approach me that night and basically say “hey Nick what’s up.” I’m usually the one to do that. I go up to people raw all the time and try to strike up conversation. It was so refreshing to have that happen to me for once. I know I know, I sound like a dick right now, I’m not trying to be all like “hey look at me, the celebrity.” I’m just saying that when you put yourself out there and have good intentions, that same energy will find its way back to you.

And I’m living that right now. I’m very happy with the friends I’ve made here at Binghamton University. I plan on being friends with them for the rest of my damn life. Some of them live close to my hometown, so I’m lucky in that aspect. That’s my biggest takeaway from the literal years I’ve spent here. The people. Both the good and bad. The friends, the exes (oh boy), the professors I made a good connection with, all of them. On one hand, it’s honestly terrifying to graduate. Making this huge change is going to be so alien and scary to me.

I’ve been at BU for so long seemingly, and to go back home, into the workforce is going to be intimidating as hell. But, I think back to high school, and how I felt the same way about the transition from there to college. I killed it, and I loved it on top of that. Don’t get me wrong, there were some growing pains, and it took me some time to get the hang of things, but once I did, I had the time of my life. So when that time comes to make that transition, I’ll do what got me where I am now. I’ll say hi to everyone. You should too. If you’re scared, say hi to me first. I’ll always say hi back.

Nicolas Scagnelli is a senior majoring in English.

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