How to Overcome Social Awkwardness
My name is Simone Smith, and I am exceedingly awkward. I make Awkward Penguin look like Alec Baldwin. When they taught kids how to behave in bars, at parties, in busses, on the streets, in offices, in classes, and at clubs, I must have been home sick. The very idea of leaving my apartment every morning makes me slightly queasy.
... And yet I am employed, happy, and blessed with some of the world's coolest friends. What's more, if you ask most people with whom I am acquainted if I am incredibly socially inept, they will respond in the negative. How did I pull this off?
Oh, I'll tell you.
One approach that has helped me deal with the world at large- in spite of my inherently neurotic nature- is the idea of approaching everyday scenarios as though they are battles. This paradigm enables me to admit the fact that the world scares the s#!t out of me while also tricking me into being brave.
An important aspect of this approach involves suiting up. Would a soldier go into battle without suitable armor and weapons? Would he leave his encampment wearing sweats and a t-shirt (or, in my case, a ratty bra and boxers)? No. No, he would not. A true soldier would assess the situation in which he expects to find himself and arm himself accordingly.
In addition to protection, a solder's armor brings confidence. A proper outfit (or the application of makeup or a particular hairstyle) will do the same thing for you. So don't leave your home without wearing clothing and accouterments, be they a suit and tie or fishnets and a mini skirt, that will help you feel prepared and protected!
What about you?
Is your behavior influenced by role models?
Getting Into Character
In addition to giving you a feeling of security and comfort, the right clothing can help you get into character. This brings us to another paradigm that is helpful when contending with the Big Scary World and its associated horrors.
As good ol' Shakespeare put it, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."
You, my sweet reader, are no exception. Why not have some fun with your character? You have the power to write your own lines, design your own personality, and determine your disposition. You have the power to behave however you like.
Why not, for the sake of survival (and personal benefit) adopt a slightly more socially adept character from time to time? Believe me, you have the power to trick people into thinking you're a Normal. If I can do it, anyone can.
Simply take time to decide who you want to be when you get dressed in the morning. Perhaps you have a couple characters or role models you will use as templates. Consider how they might behave in your position, get into character, and let the theatrical magic take over!
Assuming various roles has made a huge difference for me- mostly because I don't know how to behave in most social situations, and by following a set of heuristics demonstrated by a more adept individual, I can avoid a significant number of deer-in-the-headlights moments.
Have you found ways to fool others into believing you're not incredibly awkward?
Visualizing and Preparing
In addition to getting into character, you can prepare for difficult social situations by mentally thinking through them ahead of time.
This is a tactic practiced by many professional athletes before important games and races. By visualizing success, we are more likely to succeed. So before you step outside your comfort zone, take some time to think through your future actions and how you might react to likely challenges.
Unfortunately, you will not be able to anticipate every wrench that is thrown into your careful plans. In these situations, it is particularly helpful to have a couple of character templates to turn to for basic heuristics.
For example, let's say that you've decided to base your public persona off of Han Solo. What would you do if you've successfully pulled something off and nobody recognizes your hard work? Before you have a hissy fit and start whining like a seven year old girl, ask yourself "WHAT WOULD HAN DO?"
This question will spare you the social suicide of your natural reaction by expressing your frustration with a simple, sarcastic "Don't everyone thank me at once."
So much better.
By dressing for success, getting into character, and mentally preparing myself for the horros I associate with basic social interaction, I have managed to find a somewhat happy place for myself in modern, American society.
I don't care how awkward you are; if I was able to pull this off, you will be too. Just give it a go!
Also, if you, too, maintain membership in the League of Awkwardness and have adopted different tactics that help you fool others into thinking you're socially adept (or even... a Normal!), share them in the comments below! It's always fun to compare notes.