Sunday, April 19, 2009

Okay geeklings, 'fess up.

I spend an inordinate amount of time feeling socially awkward. While I'm not a total nose picker, I've never learned how to work the room. God knows I've tried - my twenties are a blur of eyelash batting and ass kissing - but my strength has never been in keepin' it smoove. Put me with a group and the dial immediately goes to Wocka-Wocka! I used to write it off as leftover insecurity from the Geek Years (when "Welcome To The Dollhouse" came out, one of my friends crowed, "Hey, Ali! They made a movie about you!") but I'm starting to wonder if maybe I'm iffy. I went to a party the other night thrown by a girl I know. She's one of those funny, casual gals I try to emulate - not too cool, not too quirky, just right. I hardly knew anyone there (yellow alert) but they were clearly quality women and went out of their way to put me at ease.

I'm pretty sure they thought I was a douche.

I can't put my finger on what went weird, I just felt a half a beat behind the joke. I once had a "frenemy" (seriously, somebody come up with another word) who lived to send me emails detailing the finer points of my personality flaws. (I'm too competive, I only talk about acting, I'm shallow, self-absorbed... This is news?) It doesn't take a Psych major to point out that everything she criticized about me were her shortcomings too, but because they were couched in "I'm only doing this because I love you" it was hard not to take them to heart. (BTW, couching passive-aggressiveness in "only because I love you" bullshit? I call bullshit.)

Now that I have a kid, adult socialization is practically fried gold. To spend it feeling like I'm back in 4th grade sucks. I have reunions coming up! (Feel... dial... turning...) Shouldn't I have mastered this skill? And if I can't master it, how the horsefeathers am I going to teach it to my son?

13 comments:

electriclady said...

I always feel awkward in new social situations. Always. Was a ginormous nerd in high school and the feeling will never leave me.

But I think most of us are way more awkward in our heads than in real life. Having met you (briefly) in person, I can say that you do not come across as geeky or douchey in the slightest. :-)

Lord Rob said...

Your kid will learn it without your input. My parents did not teach me the finer points of hanging out at a party other than the very basics:

(1) "don't pick out your wedgies in the living room"
(2) "don't fart"
(3) "don't belch"
(4) "don't punch dudes"

Fat lot of good that did. I do all three. Even at weddings. Sometimes all at the same time.

My point is your son will become a social being without any prodding from his parents. He'll go to school, learn to deal with people other than his parents, and eventually be comfortable around other peeps.

Now all the *real* social hangups come from the teen years I think. I can't remember having a hard time hanging out with friends my age when I was a preteen. Sure the occasional fight broke out about who was playing with which toy and who was shot during a game of cops and robbers but no one cared how funny I was yet or if I said the right thing. Once I hit 13 and Junior High School things changed. I had to think about what to say to who and in what setting. I think it's hit or miss about how that transition unfolds in a kid's life. Depends a lot on the school he goes to, who his friends are in that school, etc. Lots of stuff you can't control there.

elisava said...

i hear you, gerl!

i am back working part-time weekends/evenings at the retail job i did after i told the corporate world to fuck off and before kiddos to make some extra cash. the retail scene is mainly young people either in college or just out, looking for their "real" job (HA! i bite my lip with cynicism but hope for them the best) and older folks who have retired.

i am ALWAYS out of the joke and the social fun. it makes me sad sometimes, i mean, i watch lifetime END entertainment tonight, and i still cannot seem to get "in".

so, i gots no advice. either us geek chicks have outlived our shiny time for awhile, or us ladies with little ones just have such a totally different mindset.

but, i feel bad for you because, unlike my small retail world, you are acually trying to make it in the big time in the big city! so this must seem more glaring.

just please know, you are not the only one!

Bern said...

I, too, have almost always felt like I was on the outside looking in. Still do, even around my friends. Perhaps it is just the human condition? I wonder how all those other women at the party felt? Maybe we're all just faking it (till we make it)

pursuedbyabear said...

I am always cool.

Missy said...

I think it is true that just about everyone feels that they are the odd one out more often than many will admit.

Also, when you don't get too many opportunities to work those socializing muscles I think it intensifies those feelings of being awkward.

Since I have had children and allowed my social life to dwindle down to a barely perceptible trickle, I find myself much more socially anxious than I used to be.

We are booking our plane tickets this week so soon I will come out and we can be social douches together!

jeff said...

I've never been a good conversationalist.

jeff said...

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See?

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Yeah...um...the wee one is on his own. I don't think we learn to be social as grown ups from our folks. Otherwise, I'd be the curmudgeon in the corner like my dad or the know it all (yet always wrong) like my mom.

...

Oh shit!

False alarm! I'm hardly ever wrong.

: )

I've been in plenty of social situations with strangers/not yet friendly folks and have walked away wondering WTF? Like your wavelength is crashing into their and not properly modulated or something. Ehn! Try another time and see if it was just an off day for you/them. Otherwise, maybe they're just not your kind of people.

My kind of people are the kind that I warm up to almost instantly and encourage me to ramp up my silliness.

Let me just add that I am VERY sorry I missed out on seeing you while I was in NYC. Siiigh.

becky @ misspriss said...

Sometimes I feel like I talk to much about stupid stuff instead of letting others talk. I go on and on... at least it feels that way. But people continue to act like they like me, so maybe it's in my head?

My assvice would be to try to ask questions that get people talking about themselves. It takes some of the pressure off of you, and you'll learn something about them. And they'll think *you're* a great conversationalist.