Oh look it’s X! I should wave at them! *waves* …And they didn’t see me. Nice.
Everyone has had their fair share of awkward moments. You can probably think of one that happened today or last week that makes you cringe a little inside and out. Maybe the person you were talking to didn’t follow the script you made for them in your head, and now you have to scrap the conversation you thought you were going to have. Or maybe you tried to get someone’s attention and they didn’t see you so now you have to slowly put your hand back down.
I can recall moments like these so well because, like everyone else, I’ve experienced them firsthand. However, I feel like there are a decent amount of people (including myself) that experience these moments a little differently than others. For example, a lot of people can have something awkward happen, but they laugh and go about their day. The lucky ones don’t even perceive the awkwardness, which would be a dream come true for me sometimes. But, if you’re like me, these moments seemingly can’t be innocuous. Instead, you think about it for the rest of the day or even the rest of the week. You run the scenario in your head thousands of times and pinpoint all the ways it was your fault for making things awkward.
Pretty intense, huh?
It may sound like I am blowing things out of proportion (and believe me I wish I was), but that’s my lived experience. Sometimes I can brush things off and keep moving, but a lot of the time, the aftermath of an awkward situation is stifling. I can’t pinpoint the day where I started doing things like this, but I know it’s been happening for so long that, to an extent, I’m used to it. And by no means am I dealing with social awkwardness so intense that I can’t function decently, but that doesn’t mean the stuff I am dealing with isn’t tough.
For me, the core of this overbearing social awkwardness is over-investing. One moment becomes the center of your existence as if it will change the course of your life. Maybe you try to greet someone but your voice sounds like you gargled gravel because it’s early in the morning. Such a small interaction then opens the floodgates:
Why didn’t I clear my throat before? I shouldn’t have said anything anyway. They probably think I’m some weirdo or something.
As you know, it’s hard to close a dam once it’s cracked open. And this can spiral into deeper questions about my character and my ability to be social. I put too much pressure on my performance in a moment that lasted a couple of seconds. As mentioned before, awkwardness is a part of daily life, so if I invest so much of myself in mostly unavoidable moments, I’ll inevitably be mentally exhausted most of the day.
As you can probably tell, I’ve thought about my awkwardness a lot. So much so that I know most of the reasons why it can get so extreme. It’s not necessarily the embarrassing moment itself, but the thoughts that follow such an event (which isn’t really an event when you think about it). When I began writing this piece, I wanted to chronicle a daily struggle of mine that maybe someone could relate to, but now, in addition to that, I hope that by reading this, people who struggle with this can see how neurotic the process is.
And when I say neurotic, I don’t mean that in a judgemental way. Obviously, people who share this annoyance don’t need another word they can judge themselves harshly with. Instead, I just want to have a bit of outward self-awareness that could help stop that spiral of thoughts when something like the things I have mentioned occurs. I found that when I take a second to relax and understand the coming lines of thought, I can stop myself from being so obsessive about the situation. It’s not a cure-all, but it is a way to make awkwardness more innocuous each time, and maybe one day we can be like those people who don’t even notice.
Note to self: It’s not that deep.
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