I am socially awkward. Sometimes I go so far as to say I’m socially retarded, but there are people who might be offended. So it’s awkward.
Fortunately, this is not something I need to worry or think about on a daily basis. I work in a small office with very few people and, so far, have only been subjected to one barbecue and one holiday party. Even though I see these people five days a week, I still can’t ever think of things to say. So, I stand around with my beer, watching the kids run around and contemplate how the kiddo ever got to be so amazingly social. It’s probably part of being a kid, but I was never like that. I’ve pretty much always been non-social (not quite anti-social, just non).
But now the kiddo is four, and goes to day care, so he has friends. And these friends have birthday parties. Where there are other adults who want to sit around and talk while the kids run around playing.
This happened this weekend. I wasn’t even prepared for it. I got a text message Saturday saying that the kiddo’s practically best friend was having a birthday party Sunday and would we be able to make it? Now, even though this boy is my kiddo’s BFF, I barely know his mother. We’ve met a few random times during drop off/pick up at day care but that’s about it. I know she looks to be about my age (but I’ve been known to say that about anybody 16 to 35) and she has dark hair. But I said I would go, because the day care provider would be there and we are kind of friends. Plus, the kiddo would love it. And I’ll do almost anything just to see him smile.
I was terrified. I had no time to prepare myself to interact with other adults my age. And this happens every time. I thought it was going to happen at the kiddo’s birthday party, but there were so many people and so many kids running around that everyone kind of socialized on their own and I was able to just relax and talk to the people I knew and was comfortable with. I’ve been told I looked pretty happy and relaxed. So, score one for me!
But this was not the same. I knew a total of two people (not counting the kids, since they spent pretty much the whole time in the birthday boy’s room), and could not bring myself to talk to anyone else. So I sat on the couch, sipping my water because I was so terrified I couldn’t even ask for a soda) and just listened to the conversations. I wanted to yell at myself for looking like such an idiot. I’m sure
everyone no one noticed.
What is it that has made me this way? I completely freeze up in social situations and can’t think of a single thing to say. I pay attention to the conversations going around, and by the time I’ve thought of something coherent to say, the conversation has moved on. I don’t come from a non-social family. My dad is very social. He can walk in anywhere and be the center of attention, winning the affection of everyone in the room and walk out with 85 new best friends. My mom isn’t quite so “pay attention to me!” but she can still strike up conversations with strangers and hold her own in an unfamiliar situation. My brother and sister never seemed to have any problems (although I don’t know how they are now).
Maybe my problem was always being around too many social people. I was always more than happy to let other people have the attention, always happy to be a wallflower, and so I never developed the social skills I really could use right about now. Plus, even though I’ve been very aware of this problem for a while, I still haven’t done anything to resolve it. I still stand awkwardly on the sidelines of life and let others take command.
Although it’s not all bad. I have my close friends, and when we get together it might appear to outsiders that I am very much a social butterfly. I don’t have to think about what to say in conversation, I just talk. I like this part of me. I like my friends, and I like who I am when I am with them. Perhaps all I need to do is just stop worrying what those “others” are thinking about me and just be. If I’m a wallflower, it doesn’t really matter. All that matters in those situations is that the kiddo is having fun. And he always is.