I’ve always struggled with social situations. While I think I’ve gotten better, it can still be difficult for me, especially if there’s a lot of people (1 or 2 feels like my optimum). I like to think that, on the outside, I put on a pretty good ‘social butterfly’ costume but I know there are times where I’ve felt the wings have fallen off.
Regardless of how well stitched my butterfly costume is, there is a constant internal dialogue I have with myself every time. It may or may not go something like this:
- Alright. I can do this. I CAN do this.
- Just get out there and say hello.
- I’ve got this… I’ve totally got thi-… gosh, there’s a lot of people over there.
- They’re all talking to each other so normally.
- I can do that too. I’ll go join them and-
- They look like they’re having such a good conversation with each other.
- I don’t want to interrupt them.
- But now I’m over here by myself, loitering.
- You know what? Maybe I should just leave.
- No I won’t. I’ll just… stand here and soak up the atmosphere.
- Ohmygosh, someone’s talking to me.
- It’s okay! Act normal. Be yourself.
- But ‘myself’ is awkward and has no idea how to talk.
- Just say something. Anything. People forget small talk anyway.
- Yes! I said something!
- I’m being too quiet. I should say more.
- Great! I said more stuff!
- Okay now I’m talking too much. I’ll ask a question.
- Awesome, I asked a question.
- This person has such an interesting answer. I wish I could answer things like that.
- Wait, they’re talking about something I haven’t heard of now.
- I should ask them more about that.
- That requires too many syllables and I might stumble.
- “That’s pretty cool”? Why did I say that? What a standard response.
- Come on, say something interesting.
- Yeah! I said something interesting!
- I think it was interesting.
- It was weird, wasn’t it?
- … why did I say that? WHY did I say that?
- I’m such an idiot.
- Forget about it. For now, I need to keep saying stuff.
- Okay, now there’s more people.
- So… so many… people here…
- I must give each one an equal amount of attention.
- Otherwise they’ll think I’m ignoring them.
- I don’t want to seem like I’m ignoring anyone.
- This is too hard – I can’t keep up with everyone’s conversations.
- Okay better, I’m doing good now.
- Yes! I said even more stuff!
- I can converse, I CAN!
- The response is good. Maybe they don’t think I’m weird.
- Conversation over? Awh, I was just getting into that.
- I think I need a rest now.
- So let’s recap what happened… I can learn from this.
And the recap basically involves replaying the entire ordeal in my head. Usually several times. It’s good because I can learn a lot from analysing my performance.
On the other hand, I usually analyse my performance a little too much and end up finding more things to criticise!
Ultimately, I try not to be too hard on myself. You can’t always predict what your mind will be like until you’re put into the situation and I like to think I tried the best I can. And next time, I’ll try to be even better!
… I put too much pressure on myself over just talking, don’t I? 🙂
Finally, no matter what happens, the most important thing I tell myself: I was just being myself and that is absolutely okay.