Welcome to Club Awkward

"inbox = zero" badge from Nerdmeritbadges.com. Being this awkwardly uncool deserves its own special reward.

Only because others have told me so, I have an idea of how my online personality is perceived. I know that with all of my gangsta swagger, it might seem like I’m probably the life of the party and don’t have any issues with fitting in socially. I’d I wish I were that person. I’d like to be Steely Dan’s Josie:

When Josie comes home, 
So bad; 
She’s the best friend we ever had.
She’s the raw flame, 
The live wire. 
She prays like a Roman 
With her eyes on fire. 

In actuality, I’m feel like I’m closer to this Josie:

I’m no live wire. I’m the awkward Josie Grossie.

I’m far more introverted than I am extroverted. I am shy, and while I can put up a good front in social situations, I’m usually awkward to the point of having minor mental freakouts. When meeting new people, in my mind there is this running dialogue of insecurity:

They’re going to think I’m weird. I’m talking too much. You don’t to be that person who keeps talking to people who are smiling and seem to be listening, but what they really want you to do is shut the hell up already. Now there’s that heavy silence. You’re not talking enough. Should I say something? What’s something I can ask them which is good enough to show that I’m genuinely interested, but isn’t so personal that it won’t be considered nosy? These people are way cooler than I am. There’s no way they’re going to like me. 

Oh, yes — I’m a freak like that. I feel small and quiet and meek and sometimes almost insignificant compared to the people around me. Once I get the sense that people think I truly am worth talking to, I always have something of a Sally Field, “YOU REALLY LIKE ME!” moment.

So if I’m so introverted and shy, where does this animated and ballsome online bravado come from? Well, it’s definitely me. It’s just the side of me that doesn’t come out in person until after I’ve grown comfortable around someone enough to know that they don’t think I’m a spazz. Still, even to some degree, I feel awkward online and have to pep talk myself into being the Steely Dan Josie part of me that I’m sometimes afraid to be.

I’m going to start a club for socially awkward people like me. We’ll earn badges for things like “Furtive Glance Mastery” and “Friendly but Not-too-Eager Smiling” and “Nervous Shuffling Achievement” and “Artful Small Talking.”

So tell me — how does the personality that you project on your blog line up with what I’d see if we were meeting up for coffee in an hour? Would you classify yourself as feeling socially awkward? How does that affect your interactions with people online, if at all?

Josies of all kinds are welcome to join in the discussion.

Gangsta Point Question: 

“Josie” is one woman of Steely Dan song lyrics. Name five others (the names can be either titles or merely mentioned in the verses).  This question is worth ten points. No Googling allowed — answer according to the Gangsta Code of Honor.

38 thoughts on “Welcome to Club Awkward”

  1. OMG! I am so completely socially awkward. I always say something weird. I cannot make small talk to save my life. One of my coworkers and I decided we would start a club for the socially awkward, but our first rule was going to be that there would be no meetings because then we might have to talk to each other!

    I am never the life of the party, even if I know everyone very well. But if I’m comfortable, I can get everyone else stirred/fired up with my commentary. I’m much better with the aside than with actual conversation. I do enjoy a good debate, though.

    I cannot believe I don’t know one woman of Steely Dan song lyrics. No gangsta points for me.

  2. Are we mind twins? I feel all those feelings in conversation with people but I also have the added bonus of mentally rehashing the entire conversation later, complete with cringing and “WHY DID I SAY THAT?” It took me 5 years before I was able to be myself around my husband’s family and that was only because we were married and I was expecting our first child so they were kind of stuck with me. Online I am funny and fearless but get me in a real-life social situation and I am the most awkward human being that ever lived. I seriously went to therapy over the issue and it helped in the fact that I now know how to make small talk but I will never be truly comfortable in social situations. The truth is I don’t really know how to read social cues so I am always afraid that I won’t get the subtle hint that a person no longer wants to talk. That reason alone is why I hate the phone- when to get off, am I talking too much, too loud, is the conversation boring? I am also pretty introverted and socializing exhausts me, which is why I like being online because I can walk away when I need a moment. I wish I had that large circle of girlfriends that I can meet for coffee in real life but as an adult it is just so hard to make friends and when you add social anxiety to the mix it becomes impossible. Well, at least I have friends in the computer.

    1. ” I am always afraid that I won’t get the subtle hint that a person no longer wants to talk. That reason alone is why I hate the phone- when to get off, am I talking too much, too loud, is the conversation boring?”

      This. I am forever worrying if the person I’m talking to really wants to talk to me or not, even if they’re the one who called me.

  3. I’m going to meet some friends for the first time this weekend. They are my internet friends I’ve made in a little corner of the ALI universe (through babycenter… of all places). We’ve been friends for almost 3 years now and they think I am very very funny. In reality, I am a quiet dork who will only say inappropriate things. Online I can say the inappropriate things and then not hit ‘enter’. Only the real gems get through. In the real world I can’t stop myself! I’m afraid I’m going to leave my weekend with a lot of people being thoroughly confused by me!

    My blog is the real me. I write exactly like I talk to my close friends, just with better grammar and less pausing while I think about which word I’m supposed to say. If I were to meet a new person over coffee, it would be me listening for the entire time or a lot of awkward silence. I’m getting better at asking leading questions so I can talk even less.

    I expect most bloggers are like this.

    1. Totally. I’ve had the luck of being able to meet up with a handful of bloggers at various times, and I always wonder if they’re thinking, “YOU ARE SO NOT AS FUNNY OR CHARMING AS YOU APPEAR TO BE ONLINE. FALSE ADVERTISING. NOT COOL.”

      Or maybe I only THINK I’m funny and charming online? 😉

  4. Add to all that being single. Again. At my age. Yeeeeaaaahhhhh…In the last three months I have gone so far out of my comfort zone that I have to go home and literally curl into a ball on my bed and shiver. So…uh, [insert witty comment here] or [stare at me in awkward silence now].

    1. “So…uh, [insert witty comment here] or [stare at me in awkward silence now].”


      You made me laugh with that one. We can be sisters in united in awkwardness.

      1. That is exactly right, I do my best to write how I think because you’d never know it to meet me in person. I’ll be in the corner quietly watching the action.

  5. I’ll join the club. Have always been socially awkward and am praying it doesn’t rub off on my daughter. I have that same issue with having to fill the silence. I guess that’s why I’m a blogger too. 😉

    1. YOU? AWKWARD? Hell to the no. The short time I’ve been reading you, I wouldn’t have thought you’d have a hard time filling silences.

      I used to worry about my kids in the same way, but they don’t seem to be having any problems with that. Well, except maybe for Jordan, my 8-year old. He’s a big goofball at home, but he’s definitely a wallhugger in public.

  6. I can already tell that everyone here is the belle of the ball compared to me. My normal icebreaker is to point out what a train wreck I am. It goes downhill from there. If you took all of the cool in the world, compressed it down into a tiny ultradense package, and then sent it to Mars, I’d be the one standing here with binoculars shouting excitedly, “I see the cool!” But nobody would answer, because they’d all have gone to Mars.

  7. “I see the cool!” That is AWESOME. 🙂

    I don’t think I’m socially awkward in small groups. At a party with large groups of people, though, I’d be going to the basement to play beer pong with the geeks. I do well with guys, but women…not so much. Unless they’re geeky like me.

    1. I’ve always felt more comfortable around the guys, too. I had a small cohort of close girlfriends in high school, but the crowd of guys I considered to be close friends was a bit wider.

  8. I’m right there with you. I’m not really sure how I come off differently in my blog. In person I think I really don’t come off as anything, so however I seem on my blog is approximately how different I am than in person. I don’t even know if that sentence I just typed would make sense to anyone but me, which is a good portion of why I keep a low profile in person; I don’t know if the words that come out of my mouth adequately convey the thoughts they represent from my head, and even if they do, I don’t know if my audience will receive them the way I want, so I tend to just not try. On my blog I can beat the crap out of the dead horses that are my thoughts if I feel like it (you can see this evinced by my abuse of parentheses), and people can either read it or not — I don’t have to worry if I’m annoying anyone (which I almost always feel like I’m doing when I talk). I think I’m pretty cool but only so in my head. I have no confidence in my ability to display what awesomeness I may have in real life.

    1. You, Megan, are one who I definitely have always thought of as being a bit on the shy and reserved side. I’ve never ever thought of you as annoying or anything like that. I think it’s because I remember one time, a looong time ago, you mentioned how you nearly shit bricks the first time I ever commented on your blog. And I was thinking, “Dude — I’m no rock star. But it’s kinda cool that someone thinks I am.” So if I’m a quiet and shy person and SHE thinks I’m ballin’, then she’s probably even quieter than I am. 🙂

      I think you’re pretty cool. I think you, me, and Carrie (Balancing Act) would probably fit nicely together as three goofy dorks.

  9. Lol. The socially awkward unite! I love it!

    When I am with a new group of people, I am the one who doesn’t talk unless spoken to, analyzes what I’ve said for hours afterward, and generally just blends into the background. My husband is the life of the party.* People gravitate to him. He’s funny and witty and all of those other good things. Me? Not so much. I let him do the people schmoozing with I stand in as his supporting cast. lol. I am okay if I know the people I’m with or have a few friends with me.

    I’d say I’m like that on the internet, too. If I “know” you or feel comfortable with you, I am likely to comment and respond to posts. If I don’t know you well, I often have to wrestle with myself to actually write something, even if I think I may have something to contribute.

    As for my blog, I just write what I need to write. I am definitely more open that I would be in real life.

    *Husband was an extra in that film. He was in the scene at the football field when she is waiting for the kiss. He’s sitting right next to the Denominators…

  10. Oh you can rest assured that I won’t mumble anything for a while if I was meeting a bloggy friend over coffee.

    Or I would ask a very blase question.

    The best is, my ears will give up on me. If I am truly zapped, I sometimes cant make out what the other person is saying.

    Ha cool!

  11. Similar to you, my online persona is the me that comes out with people I know well. I am shy too though blogging has helped me become a little less so.

    1. It’s funny – as hilariously open as you are on Twitter and in your writing, I’ve always had the impression that you and I tend to be the same way with social awkwardness. Awkward together, we shall be. You, me, and buttermilk whore biscuits.

  12. Definitely socially awkward (though when I tried typing awkward, the first three letters that came were awe — so maybe deep down I’m really socially awesome). Sometimes I get so nervous that I start stumbling over my words, which doesn’t help 🙂 And the silent staring kills me. GAH. Sometimes I can fake the confidence I need, but it’s not easy.

    And this is why I prefer writing… I have more time to craft and perfect my words.

  13. Alexicographer

    Ha. I’m late to the party, aren’t I? Everyone else has moved on and is busy chatting about JW Moxie’s gay uncle-in-law, right? And here am I!

    So. I don’t blog (what does that make me?). But I do comment and write; I think (ha!) I am good with the written word. Mostly. When I take the time to edit. And honestly I am semi-, marginally OK with small talk. But I am not good at it. I mean, I can engage in it, but it drains me. Actually any human interaction drains me. I mean, not in a bad way (exactly), but my understanding of what it means to be an introvert (i.e., me) is … need time to recharge after interacting with humans. Especially if one of those humans is my own preschooler, it turns out, but regardless, really.

    Also, at some point in my adult life I realized/decided that it is better to be the person about whom everyone else thinks, “Gosh, I wish she’d stayed a bit longer,” or “I wish she’d expanded on that point,” than “OMG I thought she’d never leave!!” or “I thought she’d never shut up!” So I do try to be the former, though it is far from obvious I succeed. Oh gosh, look at the time, gotta run …

    1. I couldn’t help but snortle (snort/chuckle – yes, I made that up) a bit at the mention of you editing, because I rarely take the time to edit well. Well, at least not until AFTER I’ve hit “publish” and have embarrassed myself with a truckload of bad grammar/spelling/syntax. I think it’s because I a) spend so much time editing student work that I have little patience left to edit my own and b) I’m just so excited to let everyone see my dazzling brilliance (ha!) that I get impatient with finishing out that leg of the writing process, anyway.

      Having read mini-blog posts of yours by way of your comments, I think you’re damned fine writer, and I’ve often wished that you DID write a blog. I just like the way your mind works — whether about infertility or other topics — and I always find myself wishing I had more of your words to digest.

      And this: “Also, at some point in my adult life I realized/decided that it is better to be the person about whom everyone else thinks, “Gosh, I wish she’d stayed a bit longer,” or “I wish she’d expanded on that point,” than “OMG I thought she’d never leave!!” or “I thought she’d never shut up!” So I do try to be the former, though it is far from obvious I succeed. Oh gosh, look at the time, gotta run …” Yes, me, too.

  14. Sometimes I am fascinating and personable and fucking awesome, and sometimes I am shy and awkward and — gasp — boring. What’s worse is that I know when it’s happening and I can’t switch gears. “Oh I am so boring right now, be interesting!” Can’t do it on command.

    But if anyone ever got me talking about Inbox Zero, I’d go right back to being fascinating.

    1. “Sometimes I am fascinating and personable and fucking awesome, and sometimes I am shy and awkward and — gasp — boring. What’s worse is that I know when it’s happening and I can’t switch gears. “Oh I am so boring right now, be interesting!” Can’t do it on command.”

      This is why we’re ballsome, the two of us. This is definitely me.

  15. I’ve always ben the shy one. I was often the smallest in my class, so had to stand at the front of the line in grade school when we’d line up for recess and such. Was always made fun of for being small (that really hasn’t changed LOL), and because I wore my hair short from grade 4 on, I was often called a boy but ignorant adults as well. I always hated going to something where I didn’t know anyone. It wasn’t until university that I came out of my shell a bit. I’m still somewhat quiet and introverted at times. And I totally enjoy my own company. However, that all changes when I’m hanging out with your crew. LOL (except when I fall asleep because I’m exhausted).

    1. I STILL hate doing things where I don’t know anyone. I try to attach myself to someone I feel comfortable around whenever possible. If I can’t, that’s when I break my pocket extrovert out and put up a really good front. Fake it ’til you make it, right?

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