Living in an era where social awareness is growing faster than technology, more and more of us are experiencing the condition known as "social awkwardness" every day. We manage to overcome it, in general, but there are certain situations which bring out the worst of our social skills. There are many of these awkward situations that occur on a day-to-day basis. While those of the more socially apt variety manage to handle such situation with charm, wit and finesse, we are left to blush, stammer and fumble our way through them.
1. Mistaking Somebody for Someone Else.
So, you're walking down a corridor and you notice a bunch of people, standing around, having a chat and, hey, there's your buddy! Wait, why is she talking to a bunch of people that you've never seen before? Hang on, she's allowed friends outside of you! So, over you go, arms braced for a surprise hug - some say: the best kind of hug. Ironically, however, the surprise is on you, when you discover that you just wrapped your arms around a complete stranger. As the poor, unsuspecting girl turns around to face the creep that just grabbed her in public, you start to wonder just how you're going to explain this. Why can't you just say "hi" like a normal person?! That would've been awkward enough! Okay, you really need to provide some kind of explanation ... um ... okay, screw it! Just yell "tag!" and run! Outrun the awkwardness.
2. Small Talk.
So, you're at a party and the host decides to introduce you to one of his other friends. However, before he can actually get the ball rolling, he's called to the aid of the obligatory "starts throwing up before half the people have arrived" guest. So, while he's busy trying to protect the Persian rug from projectile vomit, you're left with the even more daunting task of making conversation with a complete stranger. I mean, you can't just walk away?! So ... what to do? Ooh, ask him what his interests are. Motorbikes, huh? Oh, that's so funny because ... you know absolutely nothing about motorbikes. Um ... oh, there was that time when you got on the back of your friend's motorbike and rode down the street, before you had to stop to throw up on the curb. Yeah, tell him that! Okay ... maybe you should've just skipped over motorbikes. What else does he like? Cars. Okay, what do you know about cars ... only that this conversation is a total car crash.
3. Trying to Be Courteous.
So, you're taking a wander over to your local shopping centre, just to have a quick nosey around, maybe pick up a cheeky Starbucks and some new jeans. You push a shop door open and walk on in, but, before you let go of the handle, you turn to see if there's anybody walking behind you and - lo and behold - there's a lady walking right towards you and, judging by the fact that she's saddled with enough shopping bags to keep Paris Hilton happy for a solid ten minutes, chances are she'd probably appreciate a kind young man holding the door for her. So, you stop and wait ... and wait ... and wait ... and now you're starting to wonder if, maybe, she was a little far away to merit you holding the door for her. I mean, there's a line between polite and just weird, and it's probably the length of the distance between you and her right now. Ah well, you've already committed to this, so you might as well just keep - and she just turned and walked in the other direction. Excellent. So, NOW you're holding the door open for no one. Urgh, it's 2014! Why do non-automatic doors still even exist?! To make suckers out of people like you, that's why.
4. Being Asked for Money.
You’re sat outside a cafe, on a gorgeous summer's day, having a cup of coffee and enjoying the beautiful weather and then, suddenly, your view of the high street is blocked by someone waving a donation box in your face. You’re a student: you don't even HAVE any kind of income. But you can't say that you don't have money. You're drinking an extra-large, double-shot soya cappuccino with extra foam: they KNOW you have money! You barely have enough cash for the train ticket home. Then again, this charity is for people who sleep on the street every night. So what if you have to walk 15 miles? Is it socially acceptable to just give them 50c? Oh, God, they saw the 20 euro note in your wallet. You can't just give them 50c now! But you don't have any other coins! Just give them the 20 and this can all be over! Phew, they're gone. You just lost 20 euro, but it's over. Oh ... wait ... you haven't actually paid for the coffee yet ... fuck!
5. Trying to Be Witty.
Okay, so you're having a conversation with someone and it's going pretty well (I mean they haven't run away yet). Then, they say something really witty: the perfect combination of humour and cleverness. Okay, that calls for an equally witty response. You can do this. You're a witty guy. Your Facebook statuses are hilarious. Think. Think! Ooh, what about ... this? Yeah, go ahead, try it! Now you said it and they look pretty disappointed because, in retrospect, that was probably the dumbest and least funny thing you've ever said. Wow. For a moment there, that person ACTUALLY thought that you were their conversational equal. Ooh, wait, you just thought of something that you could've said instead, something that really is witty. Shame it's two days later…
6. Stupid Hand Rituals.
Now you're at a party and feeling rather damn proud of yourself. Why? Because, for the last half hour, you've been having a decent interaction with a fellow human being. Congratulations. But, now, it's time for you to go; probably a good thing: the law of probability states that the longer said human interaction goes on, the more likely you are to blow it, horrendously. So, you've said goodbye and promise yourself that you'll play it cool and wait a solid 10 minutes before you send them a friend request on Facebook. But, just as you're leaving, it happens: his hand goes up and you're left with a matter of seconds to figure what the hell he's expecting you to do. Is this a handshake, a brofist, a high five? Okay, well, you have to do something; you can't just leave him hanging! That's basically worse than blanking someone in the street, these days. Okay, now just DO something ... anything? Or, just hold hands ... that's cool, too.
7. Comforting People.
So, you're wandering around the college campus and you spot a girl that you know, and she’s crying. Does this mean that you actually have to ... you know ... DO something? I mean, she's not really a ‘friend,’ more a ‘friend of a friend.’ Oh, come on, she’s a fellow human being in blatant need of some cheering up. You can do this!
"Are you okay?" Really? Did the tears rolling down her face not do a good enough job of answering that already? "Oh, *sniffle* I'm fine *wipes away tears*. Really, *momentarily chokes on tears* I'm okay." Oh, phew! Well, that's a relief. Well, you better not trouble the girl anymore. Waaait…
Ask her what's wrong. Hmm ... she doesn't wanna talk about it. REAL helpful. Okay, tell her some heart-warming advice that your grandmother gave to you when you were little. But the only advice that you can remember is incredibly racist. No, wait! Tell her that really offensive joke that your friend told you the other day. If that doesn't cheer her up, NOTHING will. Okay, well she's stopped crying ... but now she looks disgusted. Well, I guess that's an improvement.
So, you're the new kid in class. Don't worry - just go in after everyone else has, so you don't accidentally steal someone's seat and instantly make them hate you. In walks the teacher. He'll introduce you and get you to say a few words about yourself - or, in your case, some mumbled, anxiety-ridden attempts at words.
"Okay, now I'm going to go around the class and get every student to ask you a question about yourself, and, then, you can ask THEM a question."
First up: "what's your favourite movie?" Okay, this should be easy. Oh, wait, this is a Film Studies class; you should probably say something really highbrow or they'll think you don't belong here. Hmm... The Godfather? No one will argue with that. Wait, this is silly! You don't need to impress anyone! Just be yourself! White Chicks ... REALLY? Okay, maybe you should've just gone with The Godfather. Now it's your turn to ask HER a question. Quick think of something, you've been silent for way too long now! "What's YOUR favourite movie?" Okay, so you just repeated her question right back to her, informing everyone that you have absolutely no capacity to come up with your own thoughts. "Oh, MY favourite movie? That's easy: The Godfather"... Youuuu bitch!
Next question: this guy wants to know who your favourite actor is and please, for the love of God, don't say "the two guys from White Chicks." Just go with Leonardo DiCaprio. Everyone likes him. Okay, now it's your turn again - just don't repeat this question! Ooh, got it! "Who's your favourite actress?" Oh, Jesus Christ, how are you THIS abysmal?
On the way to work, you decide to make a pit stop at your favourite coffee shop. Problem is: that was 20 minutes ago. You've been waiting for that cappuccino for 20 minutes now and, not only do you have to be at work in 15, but you're also fed up of waiting.
Okay, it's really time that you said something. I mean, it's not like you haven't been patient; it's the 21st Century, the age where waiting more than 3 seconds for a webpage to load is an inexcusable outrage. You've gotta do this without sounding confrontational. Urgh, why did you come alone? If you'd brought a friend, then THEY could've complained, while you conveniently had to use the restroom. But you're all alone and the only person who's gonna speak up for you is YOU ... unless ... maybe, if you just keep waiting, a stranger will realise that you're just too socially awkward to complain and do it FOR you!
Wait, no. This is YOUR battle. You owe it to yourself to do this. Okay, just get the barista's attention. Now, just explain that you've been waiting for 20 minutes and you're in a rush. Okay, say "I don't mean to be rude" if it really makes you feel better. Okay, apologise if you REALLY need to. Okay, one apology was enough. STOP apologising! No, don't cry!
Okay, so you've met up with a pal from college and - surprise! - they decided to bring a buddy of their own along for the ride. As they explain to you how they've known this person since 'Snake' was the pinnacle of mobile phone technology, you realise exactly what's coming. Moments later you're sat there, laughing along, as they reminisce about all the great times they've had together. Congratulations, you are officially the third wheel.
It wouldn't even be so bad if their anecdotes were half as hilarious as they seem to think they are - and them acknowledging it by saying "I guess you had to be there" still doesn't make them any funnier. Oh, come on, you can totally compete with this guy! I mean, he might've known your buddy longer, but you guys have shared some hilarious, anecdote-worthy experiences too, right?! Maybe just try to steer the conversation away from memory lane; think of a subject that you can ALL talk about. Video games! There you go!
"Oh, speaking of video games, that TOTALLY reminds me of this time ..." Urgh. Of course it does!
11. Untimely Laughter.
So, you're sat in the middle of a class and find yourself, once again, being dragged into another daydream. Comfortably at the point where you can't even be bothered to try to snap yourself out of it, you suddenly recall that really funny incident that happened last week, and, before you know it, you're loudly chuckling away to yourself ... but nobody knows what the hell you’re laughing about. No, they just think you're weird and potentially psychotic.
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