September 24, 2007

Living Awkwardly, issue 1

As a self-identified awkward person, I've accumulated a fair amount of knowledge and skills in passing off, or simply living with, my awkwardness. It would be cruel of me not to share this valuable information with other awkward people. It's my good deed of the day. So, here for all to share, Lindsay's Guide to Living Awkwardly.

First, what to do if you respond to someone who is speaking to another person around you. For example, I was sugaring my coffee in the refectory one morning last week and someone walked in and said hello. Not looking up, I said hello back, at which point I did look up to realize that I had no idea who the person saying hello was, and that the woman was saying hello to someone else in the room. Now, this has the potential to be a crisis. Another example: As I was walking to class this morning, someone I vaguely know, an acquaintance so to say, walked out of his building and said "Good morning." I looked towards him, the sun flashed in my eyes and I couldn't tell if he was speaking to me (the nearest person) or the person further away. As I continued on, he went to the other person and had a conversation with him - so he might have been intending the good morning for me, or for the person he had an actual conversation with. So, what does an awkward person do in situations like these? First, don't let others (those maybe not apparent of your awkwardness) know you feel/are awkward. Keep on going like the fabulous person you are. Maybe they'll mistake your awkwardness for being friendly. In the two examples above, the one this morning is easy to do like this. The first case, where I looked someone in the face and realized they weren't talking to me, wasn't as easy to play off. The rule of thumb is to not say anything more, because your rambling isn't going to help. It's just going to make you look gawky and a little senile. In worst case scenarios like this one, you evacuate. Finish your business (throw a lid on the coffee) and bolt. You can't be awkward if there's no one to be awkward around.

Another situation: You are walking right behind someone who is walking slower than you'd like them to - but there's not enough space to pass or if you do, you might have to start a conversation with them and you're in a hurry. Additionally variations include walking right behind someone who you know has the same destination but you don't want to talk to them. They meander about, shuffling down the path and you're in a hurry to run home and grab your ID card so you can buy lunch today. Here's what you do - before you can take any alternative course of action, you need to first adjust your walking pace so you won't overtake the individual, but you also won't be right on their heels. Allow some buffer space and readjust as needed, in case the person slows down more. Then, look ahead in the path to see if there's a spot where you can take a different route than this person. Try to break away as soon as possible. If you can't break away, keep a fair distance and perhaps find some distraction, in case the person does want to talk to you. If you have an mp3 player, now is the time to pull it out and use it as a reason to not talk to them while you pass. If you must make conversation, keep it brief. See the reference to rambling earlier.

As I keep being awkward, I'll let you know more of my tips.


Ryan said...


Anonymous said...

Lindsay you are truly one funny girl. That's as in humorous funny not awkwardly funny.