I am, by nature, more introverted than extroverted. In the past, I was introverted to the extreme… and had a reputation for it. As I grew up through the later years of school and particularly into university life, I learned a few things about being social and am less of an introvert than before. I haven’t actually noticed this until recently as I used to believe I was just coming out of my shell more, nothing more. The truth is, yes, I am coming out of my shell but I seem to have developed ‘habits’ to avoid any uncomfortable social situation.
I’m not saying that I wish to turn into a extrovert… I kind of think it’s something that you can’t just ‘fix’ like that. I’m happy being who I am. But who I am can be an awkward person sometimes… and sometimes it’ll cause some awkward moments when conversing with strangers or people I don’t know well. Awkwardness not only for myself but perhaps for the person on the other side of the conversation. These ‘habits’ serve as mechanisms to keep everyone feeling as comfortable as possible. Please note that sometimes they don’t work.
1.Smiling… all the time.
Well, this actually isn’t a new habit. It’s a natural reaction for me. I generally like to smile a lot. And I think this is great for making someone else feel at ease, especially if I’m with someone I don’t know well. Unfortunately, there does come a point where I should look a bit more neutral so that I don’t look like an over-happy maniac.
2. Laughing when I don’t know what else to say.
Sometimes when the person I’m talking to says something which is not a question and I don’t have any particular response to, I will give a little giggle. It’s just a reaction I seem to have. I guess because I feel like I should continue the conversation but I don’t have anything to add. So I’ll giggle. Not a hearty laugh and not some response which will probably make no sense (both of which will seem random!) Because I think I’m making a response, it’s sort of carrying on the conversation. Then I’ll hope I think of something to say or even better, the other person will carry on speaking instead.
3. Masking my weirdness with humour
Sometimes I come across as weird. I guess I’m that kind of person. I do have a few quirks to my personality that some may find odd. In cases like these, when I sense someone finds me a little weird, I will try tomake my quirk funny. Not in a ‘make fun of myself’ kind of way, just in a humorous Streisand-from-Funny-Girl way. I suppose deep down I hope that weird + funny = cute, but I’m not sure how that’s working out so far. 😉
4. Mirroring the other person’s speech style
I don’t know whether I should try to stop doing this or not. It just happens. Let’s say I’m with someone who talks slowly and calmly, a very laid back style. Then during that conversation, I will proceed to speak in the same manner. Or if I’m talking to a girl who has a quick, speedy, mile-a-minute style of talking. Then I’ll mirror that. This is even the case with accents! By that, I don’t mean I copy the other person’s accent. More like, if this person has a more pronounced accent, my accent also becomes more pronounced in the same way. For example, someone has a “posh” or received pronunctiation… I will start talking with a ‘posher’ accent. Or if they have a stronger, more distinctive accent then suddenly my natural accent gets a little stronger.
I have no idea why this happens or why I do it, I just… do.
For those interested, I have a very soft accent for people from my area 🙂
5. Talking continuously.
This is something I definitely need to stop doing. I believe this came about as a defense-mechanism. At one point in my high school life, I was known as the quiet girl. The girl who wouldn’t really talk to you unless you said something first. She may give quite a short answer because she doesn’t know what to say. This girl didn’t feel comfortable in social situations with unknown people and it was made worse by the fact people expected her to be like that. The prodded her, attempting to get something out of her. Some believed that she just didn’t like to talk but the truth was she only felt comfortable with her small circle of friends. And for that reason, when she got out of school and into a new place with new people, she decided she would talk more. To learn what it is to be a social person.
So that’s what happened. Unfortunately, now I seem to be able to talk non-stop – I just keep talking and talking and talking. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing except that everything I say is purely nonsense with no meaning. Just empty and verbose speech. I do it purely because I think the listening person wants me to… which I know probably isn’t the case.
6. If my mind goes blank… I’ll either make a joke or end with “I dunno”
There are times when my mind goes completely blank midway through a sentence. In times like this, two things may happen.
First: I may keep talking in a nonsensical manner (usually speedily, to reflect the panic rising inside of me). This usually happens when I’m attempting to explain something but I just can’t think of the words to use. As I don’t want to leave the listener with only half an explanation, I’ll carry on talking in hope that the right words will come to eventually… and sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. In the cases they don’t, I end by saying “and… I dunno, it’s hard to explain.”
Second: I repeat a sentence a couple of times… slowly… hoping that my mind will know how to end it. If not, then I will completely pause for a moment and make a joke about myself unable to speak properly. 😳
The truth is, I don’t really know how to talk to people… I have no clue how those super outgoing social individuals manage to speak to everyone without awkwardness or discomfort cropping up in conversations. And it isn’t actually something about myself that I’m trying to actively change, it just sort of happens. It’s like a lesser-shy version of myself takes over. When I’m nervous, lesser-me makes an effort to make conversations go as smoothly as possible so that both parties feel at ease.
I don’t know whether I’m overthinking it or not… I mean, everyone must have had one conversation that was a little bumpy, right? I am completely happy with the way I am, I can be completely myself around close family and friends, but I’d just like ‘normal me’ to not be so strange and awkward when it comes to new people 😀