I’ve recently discovered and when I say “discovered” – I mean self-discovery – that I have become socially awkward. The what-was once extrovert in me is surprised as I write this, because I never would have imagined that I would feel socially awkward! It’s true – not sure if it is because of Covid or absence from the corporate world, but I think it may be a combination of both which has resulted in me feeling socially awkward.
I’ve found myself declining invitations to social events. I’ve also significantly done less videos or live videos on social media – so this awkwardness extends to my online presence as well. This blogpost is therefore not just for anyone else experiencing social awkwardness but for myself too. A reminder for me to practice what I preach – I guess we can say that this is my way of holding myself accountable.
Social awkwardness is a common issue that many people face, but it doesn’t have to hold you back from enjoying social situations. Let’s have a look at the definition…
Social awkwardness and social anxiety are commonly defined by mental health professionals as follows:
According to Dr. E. Thomas Dowd, a clinical psychologist, social awkwardness refers to “feelings of discomfort, embarrassment, or insecurity in social situations.” It can lead to difficulties in initiating and maintaining social interactions, but does not typically reach the level of distress and avoidance seen in social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as “a persistent fear of one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others and fears that he or she may do something or act in a way that will be humiliating or embarrassing.” This intense fear can result in avoidance of social situations or intense distress when faced with them.
Signs that someone may be socially awkward include:
- Difficulty making eye contact or maintaining eye contact during conversations
- Feeling nervous or uncomfortable in social situations
- Difficulty starting or maintaining conversations
- Awkward body language or gestures
- Avoidance of social situations or events
- Being overly self-conscious or worried about being judged or embarrassed
- Struggling to connect with others or form meaningful relationships
- An inability to read social cues or respond appropriately in social situations
It’s important to remember that social awkwardness and social anxiety are different experiences. One does not necessarily lead to the other. However, for individuals who experience severe and persistent social anxiety, seeking the help of a mental health professional is recommended.
Ten Tips for handling social awkwardness
- Practice active listening. When you are in a conversation, give the person your full attention and show that you are engaged in the conversation by making eye contact and responding to what they are saying.
- Take deep breaths. When you start to feel nervous or anxious in a social situation, take a few deep breaths to calm yourself down.
- Prepare ahead of time. If you know you will be attending a social event, take some time to think about what you will wear, how you will get there, and what you will talk about. This can help you feel more prepared and confident.
- Find common ground. When you are meeting new people, try to find things that you have in common with them. This can help you feel more comfortable and make it easier to start a conversation.
- Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not in order to fit in or impress others. Being true to yourself is the best way to be comfortable in social situations.
- Ask questions. When you are in a conversation, ask questions about the other person to keep the conversation going and show that you are interested in what they have to say.
- Focus on others. When you are in a social situation, focus on others instead of yourself. This can help you feel more relaxed and less self-conscious.
- Be positive. Try to approach social situations with a positive attitude and focus on the good things about the situation.
- Practice small talk. Make an effort to engage in small talk with people, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you. With practice, it will become easier, and you will feel more comfortable in social situations.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and that social awkwardness is a normal part of life. Try not to take yourself too seriously and have a sense of humor about the situation.
By using these tips, you can handle social awkwardness and feel more comfortable in social situations. Whether you are attending a party, meeting new people, or just trying to make small talk, these tips can help you feel more confident and relaxed. If you need a little more inspiration, let look at famous people who have also experienced social awkwardness:
Famous people who have dealt with social awkwardness
Jennifer Lawrence – In interviews, Lawrence has spoken about feeling socially awkward and has said that she overcomes it by being herself and not trying to be anyone she’s not.
Emma Watson – Watson has talked about feeling socially awkward and has said that she deals with it by being confident and not caring about what others think of her.
Tim Ferriss – Ferriss has spoken about his own struggles with social anxiety and has said that he overcame it by forcing himself to attend social events and practice his social skills.
Emma Stone – Stone has talked about feeling socially awkward as a child and has said that she dealt with it by finding solace in acting and becoming someone else on stage.
Mark Zuckerberg – Zuckerberg has spoken about feeling socially awkward and has said that he has learned to overcome it by putting himself in uncomfortable situations and forcing himself to practice socializing.
These famous people and celebrities have all dealt with social awkwardness and have found ways to overcome it. Whether it’s by being confident and true to oneself, practicing social skills, or finding solace in other areas, there are many ways to overcome social awkwardness and become more comfortable in social situations.
As for myself, I am working on it. I attended an event yesterday. Being around familiar faces that I am fond of, made the experience easier. I also did a Facebook Live video this morning – it didn’t go so well. There were lots of errs and I was twiddling my fingers, but it was a start! So, I am not going to be too hard on myself and just keep trying to do something about it to feel less awkward.
Let me know in the comments if this relates to you and if you have any tips which have worked for you to overcome feeling socially awkward.
Social Media Links
Instagram: Nicola Subben
TikTok: Nicola Subben
Facebook: Peanut Gallery 247
Twitter: Nicola Subben