Monday, August 20

A Guide for the Awkward

This last week I officially began my graduate studies program. It's super exciting thinking about teaching, writing, and reading again, but not super exciting remembering how poor I am at meeting people and being social. I want to clarify that this is not coming from a place of baww and butt hurt; I'm 26 years old, it's okay if I don't make any friends the first day or the first week or the first month, even. It's just jarring to be in this kind of situation again and realize how introverted I actually am.
After a year and a half in Colorado without making any close friends, I made it a resolution to be more approachable and friendly, and I think I am those things now. I am kind and caring and I'm a great listener. What I am not is charismatic, cool or gregarious. So while I think I achieved my goal of becoming approachable (people often approach me!) and friendly (I'm totes nice!), I did conveniently forget to become one of the most important aspects of social behavior, the one I struggle with the most: being outgoing. Sometimes I get lucky and the group I'm thrust upon happens to be full of chatty, social people who can pull me out of myself quickly, but most times I'm slower to warm up. If that happens to be the case, I'm very good at keeping myself occupied while everyone else gabs and laughs and has a fantastic time. In fact, I've written a guide.

How to Avoid Having Fun and Making Friends at Parties (or Where Ever)
A Guide for the Awkward

Do Not Mingle. Approaching and speaking to people will inevitably lead to a relationship. Your best case scenario for getting out of this party unscathed is to blend into the background or be so unmemorable that anyone who speaks to or sees you will not remember you, your name or where they met you. That way the next time you see them they won't talk to you! Hang out in low-traffic areas, sit away from everyone, ideally close to a door, and don't wear anything too exciting. Or wear something so exciting that people won't know what to make of it, like a clown suit. If anyone does try to talk to you, deflect their interest in you by asking them plenty of personal questions. Keep them busy talking about themselves so they don't have time to learn anything about you.

Go to the Bathroom a Bunch. Unless you're at a coke party there shouldn't be anyone hanging out in the bathroom, so make plenty of use of it. If you're concerned about what people might think about your digestive tract, always have a drink in front of you; they'll just think you're peeing a lot.

Smoke Cigarettes. If you don't smoke you should definitely start. It is extremely off-putting, especially for non-smokers and people who think cigarettes give you cancer. Smoking gives you the option to escape often without feeling guilty or rude; you have an addiction, after all. If you're outdoors already you can just walk away from everyone, saying you don't want to offend such and such's grandma or that you don't feel comfortable smoking around babies/dogs/food. If you're in the company of another smoker, well you're in luck, because people who smoke cigarettes are generally pretty cool. You two can talk about how square everyone else is.

Tweet. The best thing the Internet ever did was provide loners an opportunity to be social beings without the usual requirement of human contact (ew gross). Twitter is a really great platform for talking to strangers and pretending they're you're real friends. What's super great about Twitter, though, is that everyone on it is just as socially inept and queer as you are. So when you Tweet about how you're at a party and everyone is friends and you're a total loser, you will almost instantly get a response like "OMG I hate parties. Come here and we can just hide in my house and watch Degrassi TNG in our pajamas forever." (Tempting!)

Find an Animal. A party with a really friendly cat or dog is a godsend for the awkward. If you're at a house party, really the first thing you should do is inquire about any pets. Then you just get to sit back and coast through the evening because you're the animal person. You like animals. You're kickin' it on the couch with the cat because you just love animals so much. Pro Tip: Do be wary of the animal kind. They can be undependable and should be approached with the same emotional guard you have for humans. Sometimes they are not very friendly or uninterested in your affection, and few things hurt like meeting a dog who doesn't give a shit about you. I think this approach works with babies and children, too, but I don't care because I hate almost all of those.

Always Make a Swift Exit. Sometimes someone is just waiting for the right time to approach you and finally ask about your clown suit. Do not give them this opportunity. Stay for the minimally required amount of time and then politely let someone (anyone!) know that you'll be leaving. Some people think it's okay to dip out without saying goodbye to anyone. It is not and it never will be, I don't care how uncool or cool you are. You can be a complete creep for an entire evening and not talk to anyone at all, but an Irish exit (or a "Kaiser roll" amongst my friends; named for my rude husband, Kiah.) is unforgivably low and I do not condone them. Say goodbye to someone and walk away quickly. Do not look back.

And of course, when all else fails, just get drunk.


Sara said...

Welcome to grad school! I'm sure you'll love it (and occasionally hate it) as much as I do!

Love these tips to avoid having fun and meeting people, except, I always have fun playing with the pet at a party, and pets are people too!


bronny said...

Haha I loved this post. I follow those tips at parties a lot too, I wish I was more outgoing but I'm usually a bit of a quiet weirdo

Rhiannon Admidas said...

So glad I'm not the only party creep out there!