I have always felt awkward in social situations, especially with strangers. I seem to lack the part of my brain that makes small talk possible. Meeting new people is difficult. I can go for long stretches of time without talking if I have nothing to say – I don’t talk just to fill silence. I am also very self-conscious about pretty much everything I do and say, unless I’m around close friends and immediate family. People in positions of higher authority make me so nervous I almost swallow my tongue. I also internalize pretty much all of my emotions until I can’t stand it anymore.
I am fully aware of these shortcomings. I struggle with not being quite so awkward, pretty much on a daily basis. However, there are days when all of my skills escape me and I make a major faux pas. Today was one of those days.
A coworker’s son got married this weekend. Today was the coworker’s first day back in the office since the wedding. I didn’t ask how the wedding went (I didn’t go). Coworker got upset – her feelings were hurt because I didn’t ask. There are several reasons, but verbalizing these just makes them sound like excuses. Basically, my already lacking social skills failed. Coworker reacted by offering me some “advice” and pointing out my social inadequacies. This did nothing but hurt my feelings and make me even more self-conscious. I apologized. Several times. Then I barely spoke to anyone the rest of the day unless it was necessary.
How do I make this less awkward? I know we’re going to have some uncomfortable moments. We work together, but we are in separate rooms so we’re not together constantly. And how do I use this to help my social skills? And not let it completely destroy what little self-confidence that I have? I have tried the “fake it until you make it” theory without much success. In the past I’ve almost lost myself in the “fake”. I still struggle with who I am sometimes.
Any and all advice is welcome!