When You're Socially Awkward
- Thursday, January 10, 2013
EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is a biweekly advice column for singles featuring a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you've got a question about anything related to singleness or living the single life, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: I am a single male in my 20's, and I seem to have a problem when it comes to relationships. I struggle with relationships and interaction with people in general. Social situations aren't exactly my strong suit. Usually I try to stay silent out of fear of saying something really stupid. I just feel out of place whenever I am in social settings and parties. I often find myself putting up a mask in public just to avoid social settings. I honestly get sick of failing to fit in and feeling like an absolute failure at social functions. How can someone be better socially?
Your dilemma is anything but exclusive. I would guess almost everyone, if they were totally honest with themselves, has gone through or are going through a period in their life where they feel out of place, “uncool,” awkward, insecure, inept, or uncomfortable in social settings. That’s why you often see people “clinging” to their small group of friends at functions and not “mingling.”
If you don’t believe me, take a look at the theme of many of the summer “teen” movies and television sitcoms over the past thirty years and ask yourself, “Why do movie and television studios continue to produce shows which address this topic?”
Awkward boy (often labeled the “nerd” or “geek”) hangs out with “like” companions, wants to be in the “popular” group, finally gets the nerve to go up to “cool girl” only to be embarrassed by her friends and popular guys, but in the end the she sees something in him she likes.
One of the highest rated shows on television today is The Big Bang Theory, which is about a group of extremely intelligent, but socially clumsy, nerds living next to an attractive young actress, who is liked by one of the guys. This subject matter resonates with the viewing audiences because deep down many of us oftentimes feel like a “geek.”
A number of times I have come across someone who I really wanted to ask out, but didn’t have the nerves, only to think about what “could have been” for weeks following. On the other hand, there have also been several “shining moments” when I stepped away from my insecurities, approached an “out-of-my-league” stranger, and…...got “shot down.”
During the “debriefing” of my “failure” (and to lick my wounds), I discovered it was anything but that.
Her thoughts could have been, “Why would he even think I would consider going out with him?!” In which case, she probably wasn’t someone I would have wanted to be in a relationship with.
She could have thought, “That’s strange for him to ask. Not interested (or already taken), but flattered nonetheless.” No harm done.
She could think, “Hmm, never considered him before, but wow, he noticed me. Maybe I’ll have to put him on my radar.”
Whatever the result, the only way to become better socially is through practice. There’s no pill to take, no book to read, no workout to do (although the better you feel about yourself the more confidence you will have), it’s just a matter of putting yourself out there.
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