“I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was very stunned by this for many years. And then I realized, you just say, “Hi.” They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.”
Most people don’t know this about me, but I have many struggles with social anxiety. It’s been a huge hurtle for me especially of late, where it seems that the only time I can easily make friends with new people is either in the Tasting Room (where I’m forced to be open and energetic), or on the internet, where I don’t have to use speech, but can simply type out my thoughts as they come, and edit accordingly (or not). I’ve not been able to discern exactly why this is the case, but let’s use an example:
Two weeks ago, I met a charming lady in the tasting room, who lived in Phoenix. I arranged for a brief coffee date with her the next time I passed through. We had nothing to talk about. Most of the time was silence. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even think of what to say. It was, quite possibly, the most awkward date I’ve ever been on. The date ended about half an hour after it began. I couldn’t even think of any small talk that would work, at the time.
I couldn’t break the ice. Granted, it had been the first date I’d been on in absolutely months, but still. (What little conversation we had was enough to determine we really had nothing in common, so it wasn’t entirely a wasted experience, but still.)
It happened again tonight; I found myself at a Halloween costume ball (an annual event in the town where I work—and no, we’re not going to be talking about the theology of whether a Christian should go or not to such matters—what matters is that I was dressed as a Byzantine Cataphract and that, try as I might, I just couldn’t make myself talk to other people.) If I hadn’t met a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in ages, I might not have even stayed for nearly as long as I had. It was only when she introduced me to people that I was somewhat able to open up.
It seems the problem I have, under reflection and prayer on the topic, is that I often find myself stumbling over what to say because I have too much that I COULD say. And therefore, with so many options on what to say, I end up saying nothing at all, and stewing in my brain. Which leads to further social awkwardness. When in reality, all I should be doing is going up to people and saying “Hi.”
Really, that’s sometimes all you need to break the ice. But social anxiety is a tough thing to get over, and the fact of the matter is that it’s something that I, supposedly the reveal-er of secrets, deal with on a regular basis. I’ve been there…and am still there, most of the time. And unless you feel like taking medication for the issue (I don’t want to), there’s really nothing you can do but try to break out of the shell, and introduce yourself to a couple of random new people every day, and practicing small talk. (Or having someone introduce you is handy, too, then you have to speak up!)
(Admittedly, mostly I wrote this and posted this so that you still know I’m out there. But coming up is a post about different approaches to dating, inspired by this article: http://acculturated.com/2013/08/15/active-vs-passive-dating/ Also, it’s almost 1 AM here in Chateau d’Orthogents, which should explain any glaring grammatical errors, for which I apologise.)