Individuality is what makes humanity so great. Some of us are talented at cooking, others can run a marathon, and some even invent completely new technology. We all have our strengths, but that means no one person can be perfect at everything. There are many of us who have been graced with talents other than socialization, and that is A-OK. Conversation and social cues may not come naturally, but socially awkward people often excel in other areas of life. Besides, who says awkward is a bad thing?
Sure, communication may not be the easiest thing in the world. Everyone expects and experiences something different, so it can be tricky to navigate even the most familiar social situations. Thankfully, if you identify as socially awkward, you are not alone. Here are 7 things socially awkward people are sure to relate to.
1. You’d rather watch the phone ring than answer it
There are few things socially awkward people dread more than phone calls. Especially if you don’t know who’s on the other end of the line, there’s no way to know what to expect if you answer. So many things can happen! Sometimes your “hello” comes out a little shaky, or you’re not sure how to tell when it’s your turn to speak. Still, you’ve made it through every phone call until now, and you can get through the next one, too.
2. Being awkward isn’t the same as being anxious
While awkward situations can certainly create some nervousness or embarrassment, it’s not quite the same as suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder. King University explains the difference between social awkwardness and social anxiety: “While social awkwardness may describe an alternative way of living in the world, social anxiety is a defined medical condition that can cause severe social impairment.” Social Anxiety Disorder often coincides with physical symptoms such as flushing or a racing heart. Awkwardness, on the other hand, simply describes a way of interaction. It’s very possible to feel socially awkward without feeling anxious––especially once you realize that being awkward isn’t necessarily negative, it’s just different. Go out there and rock that awkward!
3. Your attempts at being funny don’t always pan out
If you’re like most socially awkward people, you might turn to others for example. Still, things may not always go over smoothly. Humor in particular can be hard to master, even for those who don’t feel awkward around others. Reading an audience requires an intuition not everyone has, but it takes even more skill and a bit of luck to execute a joke correctly. Don’t worry if you don’t get a laugh right away; practice makes perfect even here!
4. Unintentional interruptions can happen
Whether or not you feel you’re awkward, you can probably relate to one of the most common cringe-worthy slip-ups: interrupting. Of course you never mean to cut someone off or overpower their words with yours, but sometimes words just seem to come out! Maybe you’re just excited about the conversation topic and you’re eager to jump in, or perhaps you really don’t want to forget what you have to say. Just remember to be mindful if you do catch yourself interrupting, but don’t beat yourself up for such a small blip in conversation––keep going!
5. You may miss some social cues, but you see things others don’t
In his 2017 book Awkward: The Science of Why We’re Socially Awkward and Why That’s Awesome, author and psychology professor Ty Tashiro explains how social awkwardness can lead to some amazing differences between people. Speaking metaphorically, according to Inc.com, non-awkward individuals typically centralize their social life, while those who are awkward might be aiming a little to the side. This may cause them to miss some details in social situations, but they may also pick up on other things that others do not.
6. Eye contact can get awkward fast
Like with any other type of interaction, eye contact is sent and received differently from person to person. For some it might signal respect, while for others it’s perceived as threatening. One study found that individuals with autism experience activation of the subcortical region of the brain during eye contact, which may relate to why looking someone in the eyes can feel uncomfortable. Even if you’re not autistic, this uneasiness may be all-too-relatable. Simply knowing there are eyes on you can be an extremely vulnerable feeling.
7. You’re unsure how to respond
Part of being socially awkward is the struggle to find the appropriate thing to say. Especially when it comes to sensitive topics such as politics or health, you know you must be extra careful to get the right message across, but whether or not your brain will let you slow down enough to find the right thing to say is another question altogether! And if your mind isn’t racing, it might be entirely blank. How frustrating! Even awkwardness comes from a place of good intentions, though, and those intentions are sure to shine through in the end if you give yourself a chance.