Have you ever walked into a room, looked at all the people, then turned around and walked right out, thinking, don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact? Do you fantasize about world where no one made actual phone calls and all communication was via text or email? Do you often find yourself thinking, why did I just say that?
Yeah, me too.
As a proud member of the Socially Awkward Club, here are some of the things I do that may help you understand why you walk away from me feeling like what the? Trust me when I say, it isn’t you, it’s me…
1. I say the wrong things at the wrong times.
This weekend I took my daughter to the local walk-in center. We were greeted by a medical assistant who walked us back to our cubicle and said, “Hi, I’m John, and I’m an M.A. here at Hartford Healthcare.” My response? “Thank you.” I said thank you. I did not say, Hi, John, or I am Suzanne and these are my daughters Molly and Nora. I said thank you. Mildly awkward, right? As John walked in front of us, my daughter looked at me and shrugged her shoulders, flipped her hands in the air as if to say Mooooom, you’re so weird.
2. I always give too much information.
I was recently shopping with my daughter for a dress for her school dance. As we walked out of the dressing room, the salesperson asked if we were ready to check out. My response this time? “Actually, I was hoping you could put this dress on hold for about an hour. We are definitely buying it, but we are going to go shopping for bras and then use the restroom and get dinner, but we will be back to purchase the dress.”
I actually didn’t think that was all that awkward of a response until my daughter looked at me and asked rhetorically, “Mom, did you have to tell her we were shopping for bras? She doesn’t care where we are going! You could have just said can you please hold the dress!”
I do not have a clue when enough is enough and so I spill all of my personal beans. If you ask me how am I doing, you are sure to receive a detailed play-by-play of the most irrelevant information that is currently steering my mood either up or down. And yes, you will be sorry you asked.
3. I regret it.
After social encounters, I regret everything I’ve said. I realize I could have been more succinct. I wonder why I wasn’t. I long for a redo and wish I was someone else who eloquently said, I am great, thank you for asking, rather than providing details of how I have a job offer and I’m not sure if I’m going to take it because if I do, it means I can’t pick my daughter up from school in the afternoons. What was I thinking? What is wrong with me? I always ask these questions of myself when it is too late.
4. I hide from you.
I do. I hide in grocery aisles or in my car. I hide in bathrooms and behind magazines. I hide because I don’t want to see you. I may like you, but sometimes I just don’t want to see you. One time I hid in my own basement. Yup. Someone was unexpectedly hand-delivering a gift to me. It was someone I really liked, too! I was so caught off guard that I gathered my children and we all hid in the basement as if there were an intruder in the home. Finally, my 10-year-old daughter half-joked, “Mom, you are setting a terrible example for us.” Boy, was she right! We came out of hiding and I received my gift.
5. I lie.
I know, it’s terrible. I lie. And I am Catholic. And I also don’t go to confession. But that’s probably too much information. I lie when it keeps the flow of a social conversation going. I lie to prevent silence. I lie because I’m socially awkward. During a recent happenstance of awkward small talk, an acquaintance told me of a new shoe store in town that I just had to visit! Naturally (for me), I lied, oh yea, we are going to go right now, thank you so much for the tip! It was a total, freaking, tiny, white lie. We didn’t go. I was not planning on going. Ever. And now I have to avoid said acquaintance forever, lest she asks me about our (pretend) shoe-shopping endeavor!
That’s it — my social awkward-ness explained in an unusually succinct nutshell. Do me a favor: if you see me hiding in the aisles of Stop and Shop, just pretend you don’t. You will be saving yourself (and me) a whole lot of awkwardness.