Sometimes, I feel awkward.
“Gosh…why did I say that?”
“Gosh…why did I say that?” It’s the question that kept haunting me time and time again from my high school years all the way up until my Junior year of college as sweat beads began to awkwardly form on my forehead.
“Man it’s getting hot in here isn’t it?”
And of course, the follow-up question at the end of the day:
Why. Am. I. Awkward?
Who here has ever experienced an awkward moment in their life? Would anyone of you want to relive that moment? I bet not. I bet to go as far as saying that you’d do anything in your power to remove the moments of ever reliving that moment again.
No? Well, that’s awkward. Then maybe it’s just me?
Why am I awkward?
“Why. Am. I. Awkward?”
That’s a question I couldn’t figure out for the life of me for quite some time. It’s one of those questions that, the more you keep asking it, the more you confuse yourself and put yourself in a hole of despair and sadness. It wasn’t until up until about the last two years when I began to realize the answer to my questions all along.
And you know what? It came down to three, that’s right, three things that I realized I needed to focus on that would change the way I approach any kind of conversation, small talk, and social situations for the rest of my life.
The Way I Viewed –> Me, Myself, and I
How you define your story about who you are will define how you thus begin to act around others and how you treat yourself.
In college and High School, I thought to myself:
- “I’m shy.”
- “I’m a huge introvert.”
- “and I don’t have anything better to say to people.”
CONCLUSION: Therefore, why put myself in a situation where I have to be around others?
I viewed myself negatively in every aspect of who I was because I just felt like I couldn’t compare myself to the seemingly perfect conversations I would see on television and from my more, “charismatic” friends.
As you can tell at this point, I made my own story about who I was and became stuck there. The story you create for yourself will guide you, define you, and for my case, cripple you.
Fear of People, or, People Pleasing
One of my biggest weaknesses in life is to ensure the satisfaction and contentment of all people. What does that mean?
Does it mean I’m a good mediator? Perhaps.
But it also means I never had a backbone. It means I was like hay, drifting through the wind and if the wind took me one way, that’s where I went and at any point in time, I could change directions.
Again, what does mean?
Okay – it meant that I simply wanted to please people to the point where I didn’t know what to say to get people to “like” me. I wanted people to like me so much that I would hit a wall as to what I would say to them.
Ironically, I was crippled by wanting to say the right things with someone.
I was so caught up in trying to say the “right” things, I ended up saying the “wrong” things instead, or, worse yet, nothing at all.
OR even WORSE yet, I was SO caught up in trying to say the “right” things, that when I thought I said the wrong thing…I’d break out into an intense sweat as if Mother Nature turned up the heat in my little area I was standing in.
Having No Desire to Associate With People
“I hate the human race because they make me feel…uncomfortable”
(probably not the most accurate term, but one of which that aptly describes it for the most part).
“Therefore, I will NEVER take a job that involves people. And I’ll do everything in my power to stay away from people.”
And what better major to take than computer science (or accounting)? No offense to those who are computer science or accounting majors.
I decided on computer science as a major so I can sit in a cubicle all day and not have to worry about anyone. Ironically, however, I have to talk to people every day, and I find that the most fun part of my day.
Now, How did I end up from hating people, to actually having fun talking and meeting with people?
How to Grow From Being an Awkward Turtle.
“How to Win Friends and Influence People” – has anyone here ever read that?
This book changed everything for me. It was the first step in my journey to actually better my relationships and conversations with the human race.
Here are three ways I came to do this, in this EXACT order:
Embrace Yourself For Who You Are
This obviously goes without saying.
If you can’t accept yourself, you can’t accept the reality that you’re not perfect and you will never move forward.
You’re never going to have a perfect conversation, and you never will – so embrace the reality that we’re flawed people and that people are often more forgiving than you realize.
You are who you are. You could be the worst conversationalist, but if you set yourself to be defined as that then you’ll always be THAT.
Growth mindset for yourself is absolutely KEY here.
Embrace People With Love
Before ever approaching someone, you need to see people in a certain perspective. I know this may sound hippie-dippy, new age “love thy neighbor” kind of slogan, but it’s true.
No one individual is perfect, we all have insecurities and live with mistakes. No one individual will have no flaws. In everyone’s heart, there is something about them that makes them human and they may have lived longer or have had more “experience” than you, but they always hold in their heart the daily struggles of being human.
Therefore, each person you come across isn’t exactly as a “stranger” as you might think. I want you to think for a minute, an iceberg. Ten percent of the Iceberg lies above the water, where the human eyes can see. Yet, ninety percent of it lies beneath the surface of the water, where no eye could reach without going deep under.
Each human is like an iceberg. We make ourselves unique, but inside we hold hearts of envy, pain, hatred, selfishness, double standards, ambition, weird thoughts and fantasies, and everything you probably wouldn’t want your mother to know about you.
So, the cat’s out of the bag folks. Humans aren’t so different after all.
Yet with the daily struggles of being human, we thus need love for one another and not be as intimidated and concerned about what they think.
Learn to Learn From Others (aka, Listening, like…really listen)
The more you intently listen, the more excited you get about what they say, even if you weren’t quite interested in the first place.
Everyone has their own story and everyone wants to tell it in some way shape or form.
Everyone also has their own passion.
There are those who like to discuss with you their passion, and you can hear it in their voice. Their tone goes up and they start to speak faster because they are so passionate about what they’re talking about.
Like when I start talking about butter coffee, health, or clean fancy toilets with bidets – I can’t seem to shut up about it.
Whatever you do, stick with that topic for as long as you could. Ask questions, engage them. The more you ask, the more interesting the topic becomes to you even if it was never a topic of interest for you in the first place.
It is All About Them, Never About You
To conclude this awkward piece, I want to say that in a conversation, it’s never about you and it never will be…for the most part. I think often times we think about the next thing to say to others or we think about how WE want to look before others. It will never help to be caught up in your head when you’re trying to get into someone else’s’, in a good way of course.
As I preach, time and time again, all we have in this world is each other. Take away the desires for fame, ambition, all the money in the world, all the tall buildings, the technology, take it all away and what you end up with is the most important and valuable thing you can have for yourself.
Something that makes you happy or sad, excitement or dread. Something that makes you feel loved and worthy, something that you cannot literally live without…people.
As Ellen DeGeneres would say, “Be kind to one another”.