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Social Awkwardness (or running into people you don’t think remember you)

June 5, 2008

that is an awkwardly long title…
and I feel odd writing about social awkwardness because I don’t consider myself a socially awkward person. I don’t have a problem talking to people I haven’t seen in ages at little house parties, nor do I really struggle with integrating into potentially awkward situations like a new job or meeting people for the first time in general. I can be socially awkward because I choose to be awkward, not because social situations put my brain in a bind. As far as I know, I don’t have any sort of social anxiety or general fear of social situations.

But, like many people I fear rejection. Normal people don’t want to have their thoughts rejected. They don’t want to feel like they’re totally nuts…at least this is how I feel when I randomly run into people I haven’t seen in months…sometimes years. The growing size of social networking websites only makes this feeling more odd. Earlier this week I boarded my bus and saw a girl that I had met at a youth camp nearly two years ago. I tend to remember people and faces very well, and due to an unusual first name, I definitely remembered this girl. The first thought I had was “I should say hello”, followed by, “you haven’t talked to this person in nearly two years”…of course, she’s one of my 249 myspace “friends” so that means she should remember me, right?

I really have no clue what to do in these sorts of situations. The same day I ran into the girl on the bus that I didn’t talk to, I thought I saw an old friend of mine at Costco. I wasn’t nearly as sure of myself in Costco as I was on the bus, but instead of sayin, “Erin?” and confirming myself right or wrong I just kept shopping and asking my wife, “is that Erin?” as if she should know…

So is it really better to ask and feel rejected or just ignore and tell yourself “eh…they wouldn’t remember me anyway”? Casually random one on one interaction is so much more nerve racking than hanging out and talking to someone I knew well, even if that’s someone I haven’t seen in a year. There’s people that I haven’t spoken to that I know would be happy to see me again, and then there’s acquaintances where your relationship has waxed vague as time has wandered. I’d like to come to some definitive answer. I’d like to be able to say, “taking risks of rejection is the better choice,” but the reality is that sitting behind an acquaintance on the bus and walking behind them for half a block until you get to your street and never saying a word to them is the easier, though much more awkward, choice.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. uohaa permalink
    June 8, 2008 7:58 pm

    Great Information blog ! Thank you for keeping up the good work. I look forward to returning to your blog, and learning more from you ! http://www.uohaa.com

  2. June 10, 2008 10:09 am

    It may be the easier and more awkward choice, but is it a genius choice?

  3. June 10, 2008 11:16 am

    that’s a great question Aaron…

    you never know if that person you knew from years ago that you randomly see in some public place might be the industry connection you need to really launch your career…or rekindle an old friendship, or your future spouse…or something else.

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