Hello, my name is Gus. I am a socially awkward person.
There are times when I can carry on a conversation and be completely normal. Then there are other times when I feel as through I am trapped inside of my mind, trying to carry on a conversation when there’s this inner battle happening in my brain. Welcome to my socially awkward life.
When I hear people talk about their social awkwardness, I question if they really know what it actually means. When I say that I am socially awkward, it means that I am a very awkward person at social gatherings. I am going to try to paint a “word picture” for you, so that you can understand what I go through as a socially awkward person.
SOCIALLY AWKWARD: “an individual excessively afraid of social interaction due to some form of peer rejection or personal choice. Presenting a form or different forms of uncomfortability when around others”
Meeting New people
When you invite me to a gathering. I usually ask who will be attending. I am not being nosey. I am not secretly telling you that I dislike someone within our normal gatherings. I am getting myself emotionally and mentally prepared just in case there will be people who I don’t know there. Once you let me know that there is going to be PIDK (people I don’t know) attending the gathering, I may ask follow-up questions if the answers haven’t already been disclosed in the following information: “is it family of yours?” Usually I get a feeling of relief if the answer is yes. I feel there is less pressure if the people whom I don’t know are family because you are forced to associate yourself with your family because you are related. If the answer is “no it’s a friend” then, things change dramatically. The pressure is on. My mind starts spinning: “is this friend going to like me? What if they don’t like how I look? What if they hate me?” then I start thinking of scenarios of how horribly wrong things could go. For instance, what if I meet them and I can’t think of what to say? Or what if I say something completely wrong and they think I am weird? What if I overly communicate and they think I am annoying? What if I make them mad and my friend has to be placed in that awkward situation to choose sides? If the mutual friend knows the other friend longer then he will most definitely side with the former.
The reason friends are harder to meet is because these are people who your friend has chosen to become a part of their lives. These are people who your friend has been friends with LONG before you came. Or they are new friends and maybe they click better? Have a lot more in common with? Now you feel like you have to fight twice as hard to keep the friendship you have and make new friendships with their friends. It’s complicated I know but I have social anxiety which plays a part in why it’s so hard to meet new people and/or maintain a friendship.
Then the what if continuation start. “What if they don’t like me?” “Does my friend like me?” “Are they talking about me behind my back?” then the “Why do my friends even like me?”
So either I tell you, “oh sorry, I can’t, I have this thing” or “sorry I’m not feeling all that well”, OR I make the dreaded decision to attend. It’s not that I don’t like hanging out with my friends. I love my friends. The reason I have them in my life is because I love them and I feel as though we connect. Then, it’s on to the next battle
Making the conscious effort to go is only the start of the battle that I will be facing during that night. To start with, especially when the case is old friends or best friends. I now become the third wheel of a bunch of conversations that I have no part in. I don’t know what they did, have done, will continue to do. No, I do not remember that one time back in high school. I didn’t know him/her then. So usually I am finding myself wondering off into the corner somewhere sitting. Watching TV, Getting acquainted with the pet of the home or the sleeping family member. Trying NOT to wake them but then make up a conversation with them anyway to keep yourself entertained between the snores. Then I try to make myself look like I am having a good time because I don’t want to expose my need for communication I can relate to. “Maybe they’ll bring up the time when we…” So alone I sit. It’s not my friends fault. They have their conversation that I saw myself out of because I didn’t feel like I belonged.
There have been times in really awkward situations where I’ve quietly left. That’s usually the result of a panic attack mixed with the depressive feelings of disconnection. That I didn’t fit in and I am now I’ve become officially labelled as the person who doesn’t talk or the person who is rude. Please know that is never the intention. There are days that I just can’t handle it. Being social feels more like realizing that you have nothing in common with the people you are associating with. That’s probably not the case. It’s more because I never opened myself up to exploring the interests of the people.
Finally, I get the courage to speak. Sometimes I execute it well. I say the right thing at the right time and BEHOLD, I have become one with the pack. Then there are the REALLY awkward moment where you say something that didn’t go over well. Maybe it wasn’t funny enough or maybe it just sounded stupid. This is about the time when I search for the first drink with alcohol and I drown my thoughts. This is when I maul over every, single, word that I said and what went terribly wrong. Then I feel as though I have blown my chance and they are all wish I wasn’t there. So either I am depressed, leave, or I am drunk and have prolonged my misery and then will apologize for everything I said. Or what I can remember of it.
The Best Friend
So if that wasn’t all bad enough, you now meet your friends best friend. When I meet a friend (which is rare because I don’t think I really ever ACTUALLY meet friends. I feel that it just happens), I want to put my effort into the friendship. Maybe grow it into a close friendship and who knows. Maybe one day, you become best friends. Once you realize that your friend has a best friend, that all goes out the window. You will probably not become that persons best friend. You will never be what they are. You now rate lower. Now as I said, none of this may be true. In my mind, however, it’s gospel. So then the pressure is on even more because now you feel as though this is the only way you will be able to maintain your friendship with the mutual friend, you must make the best friend like you. If they don’t, then say your close friendship goodbye. The friendship will become strained, you will become acquaintances and then merely Facebook friends until one day you post the “Have to let go of my past” meme and then finally delete that person. This is all going through my head while trying to carry on the conversation.
After Gathering Regret
So you made it through the agonizing defeat that is socializing. It may have went well, it may have went terrible. BUT THAT DOESN’T MATTER. You critique every moment. You realize all of the horrible things that went wrong in your mind. Then you are thinking how much they must have thought you were a weirdo. Either I stayed in one place by myself and never talked, I left early, I probably offended someone, or I got drunk and became annoying. Regardless the regrets never go away. They still remain in your head as defeat. You had one chance and you blew it. There is no coming back from this. Then you are afraid to text your friend, afraid that the relationship has changed between the two of you. So you don’t talk to them, but when they don’t text you, you begin to freak out and wonder if you said something or did something wrong. Maybe they aren’t your friend anymore. Maybe you ruined it. Something is wrong. So you decide to text. “hey had fun yesterday”… THEN YOU REGRET THE TEXT MESSAGE… Then after waiting for some time the text comes back “me too”… Then the vicious cycle continues.
I Hope You Don’t Think I Am Crazy
I feel that this doesn’t only happen to me and I really hoping that the friends who read this don’t think I am crazy. I am just explaining to you that there is a lot the goes into when I am invited to places and get invited to do things. I am sure there are hundreds of other things that happen and I am sure I will experience them. This surely doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be invited to things. It’s therapeutic for me to be invited to do things, that I am liked enough for someone to go out of their way to invite me to do things with them. I just want you to be aware of just what it takes to be invited to places where new people are going or people I don’t know well will be there. I may go but please know that it takes a lot for me to do so. Also know that I may decline. Usually that means I can’t mentally do it now. But I will take a rain check and maybe you and I can do something later.
This is something that I am working on. I feel like I have gotten better then what I use to be.