I think of myself as what the internet calls, a socially awkward penguin. I don’t know why the people of the internet call it that but hey it’s the internet, its filled with weird stuff.
So anyway, socially awkward penguin. I’m not so good at social interaction. I mean I’m okay at it, I’ve been able to survive up until this point by bumbling through somehow. But I am not as good as most other people when it comes to reading the situation. I can’t remember when I first noticed it, but somewhere along the line that is life, I realised that sometimes the things I said weren’t right considering the situation, sometimes they were just plain hurtful. Because of that, I started being extra careful about what I said and how I said it. I’m usually okay around friends and family, but throw strangers or people of authority into the equation and my system is in danger of crashing. It sounds funny when I put it that way, but it can be a real problem sometimes, especially when I am meeting new people or talking to my boss. I over think things, start to wonder whether I should say this or that, what if this is the wrong thing, what if that is the wrong thing, will they get annoyed or angry if I say this, should I say anything, I feel like I should but what if I’m wrong? The same goes for stuff I’ve already said, should I have said that, was my meaning clear, did they get offended, am I overthinking it or under thinking it?
As you can imagine, I get really stressed out when I start to think about it, imagining every single bad thing that could happen just because I said the wrong thing. It’s not very healthy. As a result, there are times when I want to say something and I stop myself because I am afraid of what might happen. And the sad part is that when that does happen I get stressed because now I think there was something I really wanted to say, but I missed the opportunity and now I can’t bring it up again. In other words, it is a lose-lose situation. Or is it?
Bear with me here because I am going to go on a rant, which does have some logic to it.
So when I say something in a situation there is a chance I will say the wrong thing, that is the socially awkward part. However, the converse is true as well, if I something in a situation, I might get it right. But if I stay silent the chance of getting it wrong goes away, but so does the chance of getting it right.
So following this logic it seems better to say what you want to say and get it right some of the time rather than staying quiet and getting rid of the chance of getting it right completely.
Now I know this logic is flawed, there are a lot of people out there who flap their gums and say the wrong thing most of the time. So is it better to shut up? No that isn’t right either, so what do you do.
Well, that’s where the scary part comes in. The absolute best way to become less socially awkward and to speak when speaking is necessary is to learn. No one is born socially competent, we grow up, see what others are doing, see how others react to a situation and learn from that. Sure some people will get it quicker than others, but that’s true for everything in life, there will always be people who will learn a skill quicker than we do, but that doesn’t mean we are any less than time, we just take more time, there’s nothing wrong with that.
So, the best way to stop being a socially awkward penguin is to pay conscious attention to what you say, see how people react and learn from it. It may take us penguins longer than everyone else, but at least we will become better than what we were before.
So whatever you do, don’t stop talking completely, instead use that brain of yours and learn from your mistakes. That way you’ll know when is a good time to speak up and when you should keep your damn mouth shut.