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By: Someone who is known, but few have seen.

The first-year dental student is often stereotyped into one who seeks social engagement at any and all opportunities. Some of us simply do not have the social stamina - and that is fine.

Therefore, the most efficient method to conserve energy is to minimize exertion.

For newcomers seeking a path of solitude during their university career, all I can provide for you is not a fixed guide or style – but simply an art.

Approach this art with the will of cultivating discipline. Forget about pleasing others because you desire a quick friendship. Bonds will be forged along the way - whether you prefer it or not. For now, do not be concerned with opinions.

"Take the road less traveled. Even if it means arriving home 5 minutes later."

"Minimize the chance of encounters."

Speed & timing

Your path to and from university will be walked countless times. A basic step is to determine the timing of traffic lights. If you notice that an acquaintance is waiting to cross the road, you can calculate the pace required to avoid awkwardly approaching them from behind and saying “Hi.” Either slow down such that they cross the road or speed up to walk to another traffic light without being spotted.

Distance, footwork, evasiveness

Be economical in all movement. The optimal distance between yourself and another is 4 to 5 metres - not too close to be noticed but, at the same time, offering the advantage of slipping past if necessary.

Your mind must be calm and not at all disturbed. When you advance, each step should be light and secure, your behaviour no different from that of when you are alone.

SEQUENCE TO AVOID CONTACT

                                                                                       A colleague

                                                                                       A colleague

Slipping

To slip is to avoid notice when within close range. It calls for exact timing and judgement. Therefore, it must be executed so that you escape only by the smallest fraction. To employ this technique, you must first accept that you may look awkward. This is because a good technique includes quick changes, adaptability and speed.

Refer to above diagram

As soon as the colleague stops - pivot, rotate, shift weight.

Blocking

Comes in various forms:

  • Walking behind someone
  • Wearing headphones
  • Checking your phone
  • Opening your bag in search for an item

Vision awareness

Visual recognition is vital to all scenarios as high levels of perceptual speed allows for faster action. Once you see someone, you have a small window of time to formulate a response - whether it is to seek an alternate route, adopt headphones or quicken your pace. Where others lack in peripheral vision, you must excel.

Exercise - in a lecture hall, determine the identity and position of your peers with minimal head rotation.

Mirrors and reflections are your friend.

Body feel and space

Hold control of the entire radius within your arm length. Swift maneuvers results in a weaving motion through a crowd. In the split second when contact is made, dodging is possible. An absolutely calm mind is demanded.

Exercise - Purposely move through the gaps within small crowd without making contact.

Move with confidence, with accuracy and great speed.

Offensive counters

No matter how skilled the practitioner is, absolute avoidance is impossible. Therefore, equip yourselves with topics which can start and end under your control.

  • That lecture was [blank].
  • What do you have next?
  • How was clinic/sim?
  • Has your group started the flowchart?
  • Ugh, research questions. Am I right?
  • Man, I’m so hungry/tired.
  • The water in Adelaide tastes bad!

Hard calculus can always be removed. Be like soft plaque - always building up. Never annihilated.  

 

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