If you ever wonder, “Who needs to be told that eye-contact was important?” or “Who reads these articles about the angle of shoulders, as it pertains to social space?”…my friends, look no further.
I am that person–the one who watches Youtube videos for fail-safe, foolproof conversation starters, pores over body language tomes, devours articles on social trends, reflects on the science of good handshake pressure and is constantly reassessing whether someone is still interested in a conversation. Needless to say, this makes for very awkward encounters. And it’s definitely not you, it’s me. #really
I am not so angst-ridden that I think no one understands meee or has been confused by this everrrr. But, for a long time, it distressed me that I left most conversations worrying about that thing I said or didn’t say, or perplexedly replaying a joke everyone found hilarious. I perfected the I-have-no-idea-what-this-means-but-everyone’s-laughing-SO-HERE-I-GO chuckle (#definitelyathing). I felt discouraged and exhausted, but wanted community and people in my life, so I set about fixing myself. It didn’t take long for the info-clutter to make things simultaneously more chaotic and paralytic. I was so distracted by someone’s foot-angle and what that meant about their level of interest, that I couldn’t focus on the words coming out of their mouth.
In a whirlwind of frustration, I threw everything out and gave myself over to my darker passions (read: Holmesian disinterest in small talk). But that was lonely and isolating. So how was I going to move in social situations, with care and
grace? #okay #justcarethen
Then it struck me: What if I was never meant to be social, the way I’d imagined? What if there was nothing to fix in the first place? What if my social style is just…what it is?
I may never be a smooth conversationalist, skilled at tenderly inserting a clarifying question or good at establishing every possible social connection, but I love people and I want to hear what they have to say. And, bonus–without all those tips and tricks tripping me up, I can actually remember what’s going on in their lives.
This is the heart of mastering the awkward conversation, because the opportunity for one is everywhere–trust me. People will forgive and forget awkwardness, confusion, lack of humor or momentary missing the mark. What they will always remember is that you forgave yourself when you messed up, forgave them when they messed up and expressed genuine interest. If you get that, even if things start off horridly or end in a tangle of meanings, you get everything. It’s the insides of the sandwich that define the name, not necessarily the bread. #doesthatwork #itried
Embracing my not-so-inner awkward actually lets me love people better. And makes for some hilarious inside jokes. So go forth. Be awkward. 🙂
Yours, An Introvert At Large