With everything going on in my life, I feel like I have forgotten how to be 21 years old. Most of my free time is spent on reflective withdrawal or dialogical soul searching. I have four time slots in my timetable available for socializing and they usually consist of 1-on-1 discussions on shifts in consciousness, motivational pep talks or conspiracy theories. If I’ve learned anything from The Hills, it must be that when you are the event planner/host, you just can’t enjoy yourself like the guests; so, during events for my extracurriculars, I have to be super observational of the social capital levels in the room, the food consumption, the conversation etc. to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves. I really can’t remember the last time I went out with a group of friends (probably in first year).
Lack of experience in socializing in groups beyond what my roles require of me is just getting really really awkward in fourth year, now that everybody somehow knows each other and group conversations are inevitable. I find myself withdrawing, awkwardly hovering and just being super awkward when more than three becomes a crowd. And what makes it worse is that I know too much about people. I remember almost every detail of every encounter I have, so that comment you made in a class first year, yep I probably will bring it up in fourth year. Or what you posted on FB a month ago, yep I will bring that up too. And I will also quote your tweets to you. And the pitch of your laugh, already analysed as genuine, reactive or hearty. Creepy, yes. Every person has special folder in my mind in which I store facts about your upbringing, your mannerisms, my favourite outfits of yours, your hairstyles etc. INFORMATION OVERLOAD.
And my social cues….what social cues? 1-on-1 I am great with reading emotions and cues. But in a group, it can get disastrous. I usually end up talking SUPER fast, about myself and my voice gets really high. Not because I’m nervous, but because I put my brain into auto-pilot mode because I don’t really know what people my age talk about. The way I speak, what I say, how I say it and my mannerisms throw people off—and I get the feeling that I upset the flow of sociality. My heart yearns for a true group dialogue in which my actions and words fit perfectly in the norm for social behaviour. (HOW AWKWARD IS THIS DREAM?). Or at least where my awkwardness is not a crutch to engagement.
Truth is, I just don’t have the energy to talk about mundane subjects like the weather, current news or popular culture. My mind is often consumed by big scary questions about our place in the world and the human condition. My life nowadays is hospital, school, and home— seriously lacking FUN. And I really need to lighten up! But how?!
I NEED YOUR HELP U of T !!
How do I be 21? What should I be doing at my age? What do you talk about with your friends outside of your academic or professional roles? How can I be less awkward?!
Some fun social facts about me:
I’ve never been to a club in Canada.
I’ve never drank alcohol.
I don’t have a solid group of friends (just a whole lot of individual friends, I hang out with 1-on-1).
I casually bring up political philosophy in everyday conversations.
I eat really slowly, which looks really awkward and weird in public.
7 comments on “Socially Awkward Sarah”
You are my twin.
Man, no need to worry, I never thought you were awkward at all. I had this problem (or I thought I did) too. I think I solved it by getting better at talking about nothing, just say whatever is on your mind. Even if your talk doesn’t amuse others, if it amuses you then it served its function
I totally know how you feel when it comes to remembering a conversation with a student years ago. I can paraphrase or repeat a random comment that someone has said to me (positive or negative) a week later.
I usually find a common subject with other people by bringing up the topic of music or television. But since you said you’re not really into pop culture (which I find hard to believe with some of the internet memes you bring up), try and ask people about what they do in their spare time. You can ask questions and learn about them and then talk about the things you find interesting.
Outside of school events, you should try to be in an environment that allows you to have conversations with others that leads to a topic without much effort (e.g. Snakes and Lattes – I really want to check this place out!). You could join a hobby group (e.g. knitting) or volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about (you always meet new people this way).
Don’t worry too much about being awkward. It’s better to be yourself than trying to be someone different (and it’s unnecessary work). I’m an extrovert but I put my mouth in my foot at times too! The people that are worth talking to won’t run off the second you say something that you think is weird.
Side note: I think the word you’re looking for is “cues” not “queues”. The latter means a line up or to take a place in a line up. (At least I’ve learned something from being an English major, haha).
Thanks for the tips everyone! I really need to get out of my head and stop living inside of myself. The point I forgot to emphasize is that I’ve gotten pretty good at playing roles, the club-exec, the President, The mentor etc. And I know just how to act within the context of these social roles because I know what is required of me. Where my social awkwardness comes out is when there are no professional/academic roles involved–so socializing with friends, other people my age outside of school etc.
Not only that, but I also feel like I am not making the most out of being 21 years old–a relational judgement based on what my friends on FB are always up to. I just am not comfortable in social settings outside of work/school/extracurriculars because I havent taken the time to develop in that area yet. And now, when I do try it just gets really uncomfortable really fast (with my anxiety) and I usually leave in an hour or so. I come off as super spacy and distant in purely social settings. I guess I just need to throw myself right into a social life outside of work/school and start working developing my skills. You all make a fabulous points for conversation starters. But in all this revamping, you are right Jesica, I have to remember to stay true to myself!
You totally gotta let yourself experience more and stop giving yourself barriers!! You have so many expectations from social situations, and you gotta allow yourself to forget those inhibitions that are built on hypothetical foundations.
But that being said, I definitely don’t think you’re awkward socially. You don’t even realize the amazing power you have on people and how much your energy changes a room! Just quit titling that powerful influence as our infamous ability to ‘harness nervous tension’ and accept the fact that, girl, YOU RADIANT!!
It seems to me that the more I read your blog posts the more I feel I am in the same boat as you. I think one way of looking at things that could be helpful is not asuuming that everyone else is different, better as socializing, or not worried about being awkward. I mean, I know tons of people who havent been to a club (I went to a club once, got dizzy, left in like 10 minutes) or don’t drink, or talk about random things. Don’t think you have to fit a predetermined notion, people are more accomodating than one might first think.
(By the way, I know that saying this stuff is much easire than doing them; what I end up usually doing is just keep silent while everyone else talks – typically about pop-cultural things I dont know much about. I’ll try to motivate myself with what I just said, but its effectiveness varies from time to time)
In many ways, I feel the same way as you. In your spare time, I highly recommend the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain. It really helped to understand, appreciate and accept myself. I guarantee that you won’t be able to put it down once you start. 🙂 It really helped me and I hope it does the same for you!