The idea of social awkwardness is actually all about personal comfort and confidence. If the idea of attending an event twists your stomach into knots, know you’re not alone. Everyone has social anxiety or awkwardness at one point or another but it’s how you chose to deal with it that is the key.
It’s the degree to which it actually interferes with your life that is the challenge and one that you have to look at.
You don’t want to be living in your parents basement for the next fifty years. That’s not living.
The reality is, that Social Anxiety or Social Awkwardness is often based in fear and our own insecurities. Here is a list of some things that may be the motivating factor in your behavior. This list is by no means exhaustive but I think you can get the idea.
- being different
- looking silly
- feeling less than
- not knowing what is expected
- other’s pointing and laughing
- others getting to close to the real you
- disappointing others
- not being interesting enough for others to like you.
Here are some signs that you may need to work on your social skills.
1) You hate talking to people. Simple as that. You’d rather stick porcupine needles in your eyes rather than talk to a stranger or even someone you know.
This could be a fear of making a fool of yourself and saying something that you consider completely inappropriate. The thing about that though is that’s how we learn. We take our mistakes and file them in our brain with a promise to not do that again.
We’ve all been there and sometimes need to coach ourselves through to breath and just do it.
I so get this. Everyone else seems to instinctively know what to wear, how to do their hair, or what to do in a room full of people BUT you–it feels like all eyes are on you waiting for you to screw up so they can laugh and belittle you.
Would it make a difference if I told you nobody really cares what you do? It’s true. Those people who seamlessly glide into social situations are also insecure –they just hide it better. Yes! Really.
3) You wouldn’t know what to say even if someone did talk to you–omg please please don’t talk to me….please keep walking…omg pleeeease don’t pick me.
Omg. You’re standing on the frays of the room feeling like a complete and utter idiot for even coming to such a crowded and raucous event and then to your complete horror someone comes and stands beside you.
Your palms start sweating. Your heart is racing and you want to bolt for the door but you know that wouldn’t be appropriate. Frozen in place you wait and the person says “Hi,” and sticks out his hand. That’s your cue to say “Hi, nice to meet you. I’m George.” but instead it comes out “I’m nice George….” damn.
I totally get that you’re not sure what to do or say so know that the smile and nod is always acceptable.
4) You’d rather be at home–alone with your smart phone and wifi–in a dark room than ever have to talk with people or engage in conversation...and Lord knows you don’t want to talk on the phone!
In public you’re phone or computer can save you from having to talk to others because you can pretend you’re busy texting, researching, or even talking on the phone (lmao–I know you wouldn’t do that–would you?)
Using your phone is fine but having a one on one relationship with it away from other societal norms is not healthy…mentally or physically. Isolating yourself can lead to depression and be truly debilitating. If you’re in that place, please seek help.
5) You’d never complain because your restaurant order was wrong—even if it could kill you.
You asked for no onions on your burger because you’re allergic but they still put them on there.
Instead of returning the order and asking them to make it right, you’ll scrape it all off and eat it anyway.
After all, there’s an EpiPen somewhere close if you have an anaphalactic reaction. Heaven forbid that you bother anyone with your minor details or personal needs.
6) You avoid others at all cost.
Oh oh…you’re at the grocery store and you spot your friend’s mother in the produce section. You dive behind the nearest chip display and pray they don’t see you. We all know you don’t want to have to make small talk or pretend to be happy to see them.
7) At a work event the thought of being with your coworkers makes you want to puke.
Isn’t it enough that you spend time with them at work but now you have to go to the Christmas party too.
Sometimes people end up touchy-feely especially after a couple of drinks and you want to slap their slimy fingers away.
I can’t say that I blame you but perhaps it better to excuse yourself and walk away.
And, if it’s simply a routine business meeting then stay as long as you have to and get out.
8) Hugs from anyone is a true violation showing lack of respect for your personal space.
Does the idea of a hug send shivers down your spine? Even if it’s Grandma or your Dad. If the idea of having someone touch you makes you draw back in disgust you’re not alone. If you’re body-conscious you may feel uncomfortable or invaded.
The way to deal with this is when someone comes in for a hug, step to the side so it’s more of side arm hug than a full body to body hug. The other way is to bend forward to they can’t get too close.
9) As soon as you enter a social situation you’re looking for an escape.
When you enter a room do you make note of all the exits or places to hide? Being socially awkward can be debilitating in that you don’t allow people to get to know you–and vice versa–so there’s no shot at moving forward in a friendship or relationship.
Make a deal with yourself that you’ll stay for at least an hour (or start with half hour) before completely bailing. In that time, instead of thinking of yourself, listen to the talk of the room–is there anything that catches your attention? or maybe go stand beside someone who is also struggling to fit in. There’s always power in numbers.
10) You use self deprecating humor to deflect your insecurities as you slowly die inside
Some socially awkward people put themselves down as being less than a person, or too fat, or of no societal value and just let me die now. Often these are defense mechanisms and not truths. The thinking being that it’s better to insult yourself first before everyone finds out how much a real loser you are.
This type of behavior can have two different outcomes. One: people laugh uncomfortably at your joke and feel either a kinship or feel sorry for you or Two: some will take it seriously and ask if you need help or offer a listening ear so you can unburden yourself.
We’re going to look at some ways to hopefully lessen your social anxiety or awkwardness. You never know what’ll happen so make sure you come back.