Ever asked yourself that?
Ever had a day where every social interaction you have just doesn’t land right? Maybe you’re having more than a few days like that. I don’t know your life.
What I do know is that I’ve been hyper aware of how often I’m choosing to avoid people these days. If I hear neighbors outside, I’ll wait to take the dogs out until the coast is clear. I order as much as I can online so that I can steer clear of shopping with other humans (and because it’s cheaper and Amazon Prime is life, but that’s beside the point). I walk around with earbuds in so that people won’t try to talk to me. You wanna know how to tell which guy in the room I like? Most likely, it’s the one I’m not making eye contact with.
They’re just other people. In fact, I’m perfectly capable of living my life as a social being. Most people interacting with me wouldn’t consider me awkward. I’ve developed the ability to masquerade most of those moments behind a veil of normalcy. Maybe you do the same.
Naturally, some people have a more difficult time picking up on social cues or feel like they’re traveling on a different wavelength more often. That’s totally OK, but it’s not the category I live in. We’re talking self-inflicted awkwardness here.
I’ve come to realize that most of the time it’s actually more about me feeling awkward, rather than actually being perceived as such. It’s way more likely that I’ll come off dismissive and unapproachable in those moments. This particular form of awkward prefers avoidance and quick exits. And well…that’s not ideal, is it? So, all this begs the question: Why am I like this?
It’s usually because I’m caring too much about what the other person is thinking of me and not enough about what I should care about…just being a person. I’m not letting myself be myself. Sounds ridiculous.
Self-Conscious = Awkward
That’s how we end up responding to someone’s, “Hey, how’s it going?” with “Thanks, you too.” Ugggghhhh. We’ve all done this and then relived the shame of it over and over in our minds. Probably in the shower while asking the Universe why we were born. Such a silly brain malfunction, but damnit if it isn’t always cringeworthy.
Those moments usually happen because we’re too focused on our own inner monologue and not enough on just actually listening to what someone else is saying and (imagine this) reacting to it in a natural way.
We’re over here thinking we’re Nostradamus. Trying to predict what they’re going to say and then prepping an ideal response. That’s the norm for social media interaction, but it ain’t how real world conversation works.
So, if you’re feeling awkward, it means a few things:
It means that you’re in your head too much. It’s a strong indication that you’re overthinking. And it’s a telltale sign that you’re doubting yourself in the moment.
For me, it also means my perfectionism is showing. Let’s just tuck that back in, shall we?
How about this for a wild thought: Is it possible that falling prey to self-created awkwardness causes an increase in awkward situations?
5 Ways to Avoid Awkward:
- Observe basic social niceties. “Hey there, Kevin. How are ya?” “You have a great day, Nancy.” Bookend your interactions with polite greetings and pleasant departures. It’s gracious and makes for satisfying human encounters. The ultimate default setting for reducing awkward.
- Be inquisitive. Don’t know what to say? Ask other people about themselves (we all like that) and then…
- Actually listen to what they say. Get out of your head and be engaged. People can feel when you’re present.
- Pick up on social cues. It’s not about caring what they think of you, it’s about being mindful enough to pick up on the social cues that other people are putting out. Are they open? Chat it up. Is this convo going nowhere and you’re both looking for a way out? Let that convo die a peaceful death and revisit #1.
- Be yourself. There’s a reason it’s a cliche. It’s valid. Fake you is less likely to vibe.
No matter who you are, the most natural version of you is going to be the least awkward. At least it’s real.
Shoutout to all my awkward people out there; whether it’s a moment, a weird day, or you’re just not around people that get you right now.
In the end, you gotta shake it off and say: “Who cares?”
Awkwardness is all about making things more difficult than they need to be. Laugh off the weird moments, stop worrying about what other people think of you, and realize how unimportant all these things are in the big picture.
After all, where would all the fun stories come from if you weren’t a hot mess of discomfort from time to time?