You’re Just A Weirdo

After the service today we are going to a Newcomers lunch being hosted by the leadership for families who have only recently started attending the church. They have billed it as an opportunity to get to know other people and learn more about the history of the church, its values and vision for the future. Oh and there is free food. Lots of free food. What’s not to love about that?

When faced with social events and meeting people for the first time I revert to my default setting of social awkwardness which has failed to serve me so well all my life. I’m just not good around people I don’t know and invariably say or do the wrong thing. Once at a funeral I asked the clearly devastated son of the deceased at the graveside how he was keeping. The second the words left my lips I wanted to jump in the open grave and be done with.

The list goes on. I could write a book on such faux pas. When I was at university I attended a seminar where everyone sat in a circle to discuss a subject. I knew nobody there so didn’t utter a word during the entire hour we sat there. Unbeknownst to me one of my legs went dead during the next hour meaning that when I stood up to hurriedly leave at the end I had no feeling in it whatsoever. I flapped desperately in ever decreasing circles like a winged goose in front of my peers before collapsing in a heap of pins, needles and shuddering shame.

Needless to say I never went back to that seminar. In fact I spent the next three years studiously avoiding anyone who had been there that fateful day. I am a comedian, a klutz and a clown when it comes to such environments. I call it shy. Fionnuala is more direct in her analysis of the problem – ‘You’re just a weirdo’. ‘But I’m your weirdo’ I pathetically reply to be greeted with a withering stare or being told in no uncertain terms to ‘grow up’.

Alcohol was my social crutch for many years. Three pints of strong lager and I became the life and soul of the party. I was Mr. Personality, a social butterfly who was willing to talk to anyone about anything. I thought I was eloquent, witty and verbose. The Oscar Wilde of the bar. Two hours later and I was more often than not slumped in the corner fast asleep or being poured into a taxi just as the party was starting. The next morning I lay curled in a ball gripped by the fear. What did I say last night? Had I offended anybody? What if they never speak to me again?

Put me in my working environment and I can talk to anyone. Because it is my job I put on a mask of professionalism and competence. I can give a presentation in front of a hundred people. No problem. The ‘big boss’ needs a briefing in ten minutes. I’m all over it. The Prime Minister is on the phone? Put her through. Ok I made up the last one about the Prime Minister but you get the message. Fionnuala calls this persona ‘Work Stephen’. Confident, calm and decisive. If only I could be like that all the time.

I’m much more comfortable with the written, as opposed to the spoken, word. Which explains why I got hooked on social media so easily. I could be who I wanted to be and hide behind my keyboard when expressing myself. Which led to all sorts of problems which I have previously blogged about. Blogging is my happy medium, therefore. On here I can be myself and be honest. Without the dead legs, verbal howlers and sickening hangovers.

I’m sure today will be fine. I’m looking forward to it as I want to meet new people and hopefully make some friends. It is important for us as a family to find a spiritual home where we feel safe and welcome. We have been adrift for too long and sailed through too many storms. It is time to lay anchor in calmer waters and set foot on firm ground. I hope this is the beginning of a new leg of our journey. And I hope I don’t get a dead leg….

What are you like in social settings?

What’s the most embarrassing thing you have ever said or done at such an event?

59 thoughts on “You’re Just A Weirdo

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  1. I know what you mean. I used to be just like you. I think I still am. Why does my mouth have a life of its own sometimes? Insecure in social gatherings. Self-confident in the work place. In private I have so much to lose, in work I have the work that gives me confidence. There are many, many others like you out there. You’re not alone.

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  2. Self-compassion is key. I share similar personality characteristics. In new social situations it’s okay to start off in “work mode” with the facade until you get comfortable being yourself. Work Stephen and home Stephen are the same guy. Trust yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can relate to the dead leg. I was in college, taking a test and stupid me kept my legs crossed the entire time I was taking it. I stood up and nearly fell into the person in front of me, who was still taking his test. The only upside was that I was sitting in the back of the classroom so not TOO many people saw me. But I am pretty sure my professor did. LOL

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  4. I’ve got to respond to this one, boss. Oh, how can I relate.

    In my last year of high I enrolled in an advanced English class that taught Russian literature for half of the year. After graduating I attended the University the following August, and to keep the “coolness of Russia” alive, I signed up for (would you guess) a sophmore-level Russian literature course.

    On the first exam we were to answer a couple of essay questions. Well, not only was my of expertise of Russia up to par, neither was my English spelling. On the exam instead of spelling the word Russian “peasant” I spelled it Russian “pheasant”. Yeah, them were really a bunch of birds back in the days of Peter the Great, yes?

    Well, anyway the next week when the exams were handed back, I got an outright “F” on the exam and totally bombed the test. To top it off the professor (who was always attired like one of those Bolshevik types in “pheasant garb”) remarked to the class how that someone spelled the Russian peasant as a pheasant. The class broke out into a thunderous roar on that point.

    I slouched down further in my seat and I don’t recall ever attending the class again. The Lord surely knows how to humble us!

    Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m quiet and I️ normally try to find my place at time at social gatherings. I️ can normally fit into many conversations or groups but then I️ find myself talking too much. I️ think my most awkward moment was when I️ had to give a presentation and my mouth got dry due to anxiety. You see I️ like to talk in smaller settings but never in a large crowd. I still have that issue to his day.

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  6. If the congregation you’ve begun attending puts its money where its mouth is, your membership of that faith community will feel right. If not, keep shopping, and do it with an open mind: you may be surprised where you end up when you finally feel as if you’ve come home.

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  7. I’m pretty sure all bloggers are socially awkward in some way- otherwise, why would we choose to express our thoughts in this particular way when there are so many ways you could do it?
    Good luck at the Newcomers lunch!

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  8. Isn’t it fascinating that you can present in front of a hundred people, on the spot, but have a harder time in a more intimate setting? I can definitely relate. I wonder if it has anything to do with vulnerability or lack thereof…

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  9. If I have to talk to someone about an issue (especially at work) I have to write down everything I need to cover or else I get flustered and can’t remember a thing. I am not good at instant responses but can give a sermon, read in church, teach a class etc. Notice these all require previous preparation. repartee is not me.

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  10. I’m glad you’re taking a run at being involved in a church body despite the awkward new groups and all. I’ve actually prayed for you guys to get back to a church since I started following your blog. I can’t tell you why that was on my heart other than to describe as a thing from God. May you be blessed in this body and may they be blessed by all you have to offer. Martha from Strengthened by Grace

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  11. “…being poured into a taxi.” I find that expression very effective.
    I can deeply relate to being a “weirdo.” I have caused much difficulty with the sheer hugeness of my discomfort in almost any social setting. People think I’m a snob or hermit. But I’m the life of a two-person party.
    I have the same confident work persona. I think it’s because the environment is so on-task. In most social situations, nothing is defined or structured, it’s all made up as you go. At work, you know what to do or say because you know what needs to be done.
    Great post!

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  12. I couldn’t help but laugh about your numb leg, although it was very embarrassing. Do you laugh about it now? I’m hopeless in social situations. Can’t think of anything to say or I say the wrong thing. The most embarrassing times for me was when I dated as a teenager. A guy would ask me out and I could barely say a word all evening. This happened countless times. Needless to say, they didn’t call back. My first husband was a non-stop talker, so I nabbed him. He didn’t care at all if I talked or not! Lol

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  13. I used to be socially awkward- but then I decided that I didn’t care what people thought of me. Like seriously- I don’t care. So I started to just be me. And it worked. I like it. There’s the occasional person who just thinks I’m a weird-o, but normal is overrated anyway, and most everyone else reacts well to me or compliments me on how outgoing and cool I am. 😎🤣

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  14. I used to be what I thought others wanted me to be. Somewhere along the path I realized that no matter what others wanted me to be, I could only be me. When this realization came about, I was able to disconnect the What Will Others Think filter and life became oh so easy. Now, all I have to consider in social situations is am I enjoying myself, if so I stick around, if not I leave. I don’t even go as far as to make excuses for my departure; if asked, I tell them straight out that I wasn’t enjoying myself so I relocated myself to someplace more enjoyable.

    After a bit I quit getting invites to the snobbish events and more invites to the let your hair down and be yourself events.

    Life is so much more interesting when you have fun along with everyone else!

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  15. I can be the same way. I’ve made a lot of comments that haunted me for years afterwards. I started caring a lot less after I turned 40, started consciously practicing diplomacy. But I still slip, especially in situations where I have nothing to say to people that I find rather boring but yet I must talk to because social mores require small talk. Ugh. Drinking had been my crutch as well. It’s a sign of the introvert.

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  16. It seems that you are reaching out to a new path by finding a church. I am a minister’s wife (Anglican in England and Episcopal in the U.S.) and I can tell you for certain that not everything is going to be to your liking at this church…or any church. People are people wherever you go. They will disappoint you and maybe even call you a “weirdo”..but mostly behind your back. Don’t let some minor thing bother you, for there is much in God’s house to give you joy, peace and comfort. Most of all His presence is there and He wants you to meet him in the quietness of his place of worship. I will pray that this is the best step you have ever taken. Thank you for reading my blog and look forward to hearing from you again. Nancy at Boyer Writes in the USA

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  17. Can definitely relate to this! I can be both socially awkward or a complete “soc” even on the same day.. it just depends on the mood, people and the environment. Although the uncomfortable and cringey moments can be painful and the sociable times tiring but fun, I’ve learnt to really like this part of me. I can relate to those who are as reserved as I am but enjoy it when I’m confident. It is super tiring though having to put that acceptable “work face” on – I try to be as genuine as I can but sometimes, it’s just the day for talking for me so I’m kinda like you, have to pretend I’m feel like interacting with other humans beings haha. Thanks for dropping by my blog, really appreciate it! 🙂

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  18. I love the way you cause us to see bits of ourselves in this heart lightening post—I feel like air. Perhaps all of us have a little panic gene that becomes activated during uncomfortable social settings, yet afterwards our thoughts of self-doubt are worse. Kudos on a great post.

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  19. I am the king of putting my foot in my mouth. I can be terribly awkward in social situations, and it doesn’t help that I despise small talk. Thus I will find the most intelligent person in the room who isn’t merely talking nonsense like everyone else, walk up to him or her, and proceed to say something incredibly stupid.

    On the other hand, when comfortable I might raise a subject that I am passionate about and start talking about it, and suddenly there is silence as everybody stops and listens to me. Then suddenly I revert back to my awkward self. “Stop looking at meeee!”, my mind cries out, but it is too late.

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