On rare occasions, I don’t absolutely hate the world and everyone in it. Those rare occasions earlier used to be consistently infrequent. But it is a great time for socially inept people like me to be alive.
For those of us who do not possess the gift of the gab, life can be tough. We have to stick to ice-breakers about the weather and the awesomeness of shoes or coolness of hairstyles and then learn to breathe inaudibly in the silence that follows. For some like me- responding to a simple ice-breaker too can be a feat. I once “no thanks”-ed someone for asking me my name and immediately wished I had just stayed curled up in bed and dealt with the FOMO (fear of missing out) instead of coming to grips with my FOGO(fear of going out) in the middle of a group of strangers. I write down the exact questions and answers I have to ask when I have to call up my internet providers or make an appointment at the hospital (I wish fervently for the good health of my devices, my internet and myself). The worst part is when left to our own devices-we can go completely crazy and not know when a polite conversation may turn into an impassioned speech about the advantages of calling pancakes, flapjacks or a story containing too much information about oozing pus from various body parts. Having a very nuanced sense of dark humour and being sarcasm queen doesn’t help when meeting new people. Neither does being wary of hugs and kisses (which side to lean towards, arms held diagonally? if not, above other persons arms or below…I’m panicking thinking about it).
But this is part of the bargain you make when you move to a new place. And I would not have it any other way. The best way to learn to live, is to fling yourself from the lap of luxurious comfort into the bony arms of numerous awkward moments. I have now over the course of many years managed to survive the ordeal of the introverts, come out with a few ruffled feathers and sometimes a whole new perspective.
I will not say I take big risks. I dance. Dance classes are a good way to socialize as an awkward socializer. You are dancing with different people and can ask recycle your well-practiced conversation points. By the time you are done with the basics, you can move to the next partner or group of people and repeat. Genius!! Semi-acadamic or academic settings also work for me because there is already a set protocol and conversation topics, and usually a deadline so we can get away without sharing too much of our history, wasting too many funny anecdotes (I don’t have any) and revealing our hopes, dreams and secret desires.
All that said, this is a great time for people like us to be alive. Most people are exactly like us if not worse. I have being staying in a building filled with university students who hardly acknowledge each other even when a rare sighting does occur. Everyone immediately looks into their phones, lest we actually make eye-contact and have to actually TALK. The management tries hard to organize social events so the residents interact. The most effective way, to woo these perpetually starved kids with questionable culinary skills would be by offering free food and drinks. Right? No not really. What does happen, is a flurry of activity when the residents rush to get the free food and head back to their apartments by the time you can say “Canaloni”. We always prefer the virtual company of someone we know on social media over a stranger in the same boat. Plus the stranger is looking at their own phone. What a quiet boat. The age of internet trolling and facebook stalking has arisen from a basic fear of confrontation and I am looking at this glass half full before the cycnic in me takes over.
Well, where does that leave me? On cloud nine. I can now take things at my own pace. Not be as intimidated by people. For once in my life- be the initiator of small talk at bus stops (I am the creepy girl talking about pancakes when all else fails). I no longer feel inhibited about moving around alone. I don’t feel depressed about cancelled plans because I am the one who makes or breaks them and it affects no one else but me.
I do not claim to have become a superb conversationalist but I know I’ll be alright.