1. Start crossing the street to the side of the road you’re walking parallel to, see a group of people laughing gregariously on that side of the road, quietly return to the side from which you came and wait to cross the street until you’ve walked well out of sight of the loud, gesticulating, scary people.
2. Accidentally fail to make eye contact with your roommates and uncontrollably mumble one-word answers as they attempt conversations with positive facial expressions and enthusiastic vocal meters. Laugh nervously and fail miserably at puns and witticisms, responding with barely audible, misunderstood, semantically inaccurate colloquialisms.
3. Stay in bed until noon or 1 p.m. watching Netflix Instant under the pretext that you’re bored and that there’s nothing to do while aware that this behavior is actually a self-perpetuating loop in which continually and passively affirming that you’re bored and that there’s nothing to do by not doing anything at all reinforces the boring concrete reality that nothing is happening (and that it’d likely to cease if you got out of bed and did things).
4. Wear headphones in public. Order your bagel and coffee with them in and just nod to whatever the cashier asks you, trusting you won’t somehow get a lox and cream cheese, because that sh-t is disgusting. Keep your headphones on at the post office, at the bank, at the ATM, at the coffee shop. Etc.
5. Hear someone coming up the stairs toward your room and freeze when they knock on your door, attempting to remain motionless and silent. Once the person leaves, walk as quietly to the door as possible and lock it.
6. Go invisible on all your chatting accounts, despite the fact that there’s some indecision there — your ex or your crush or the one friend who you’re insecure you like more than s/he likes you/ are maybe over-dependent on for social opportunities won’t know you’re online and thus won’t know to message you a validating, warm, comfortable sentiment.
7. Say “yes” to plans for drinks at 9 with your friend; at 8 text your friend to cancel. Buy a bottle of red wine and retreat to the warm glow of your computer screen.
8. Field a few emails and texts that aren’t ‘good enough,’ as if any text or email could be ‘good enough’ in the state you’re in. The only text/ email you could receive that could possibly be good enough is one from the ex you’re still kind of in love with saying that she’s hopeless without you and that she needs you to continue living, or one from someone offering a huge contract that will double your income for the next six months, etc.
9. Think about your peers and about your job and their jobs and their talent and your talent. This leads quickly to a toxic spiral of self-loathing in which you become so convinced that you’ve only managed to get your job via a very fortunate series of coincidences and instances when you successfully fooled others into believing you’re a worthwhile human being that you can actually begin to feel your heart beating harder, faster.
10. On the sidewalk, look down when you’re walking. Avoid eye contact with everyone. If someone stops you and asks for directions, flinch and look shocked, act flustered and mumble that you aren’t sure what s/he’s talking about while briskly fleeing the scene.