Wednesday, 1 April 2020

A for Awkwardness #AtoZChallenge

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It was a normal and pleasant Thursday evening. The three of us were happily munching over a plate of french fries powdered with chaat masala. A casual conversation floated in this comfortable small circle. It was all good until one of their phones rang. The comfort level in me felt a slight dip. My fears rang true when he got up and said the dreaded words -

"I'll be right back."

And so, he broke away from the circle leaving just the two of us with the leftover fries. My whatever-gland-that-produces-awkwardness had pumped it all across my body. To the outer world, I was merely eating fries, but internally I was busy planning how to carry forward the interaction. What would I do with my hands once the fries get over? Of course, I could take my phone out but for how long? Also, was it just me or did it already feel like we were in a long awkward pause?

"So, how's your project going?" he asks. Oh no, he took the initiative. It was my turn next. Ah, so much pressure! I respond as needed and contribute to the conversation myself. In less than a minute, the air around us fell silent again. I didn't know if it was okay to stay quiet, or if I should keep trying to talk. I couldn't tell if he was as awkward as me, or if he was completely comfortable scrolling through his WhatsApp messages in the midst of this.

I waited for him to take the last resort to fill silences. Humming. I couldn't do that, for I only sang or hummed behind closed doors. It would sound painfully forced if I hummed out of the blue here. I took out my phone and scrolled through my own empty inbox. In no time, he had begun to hum. Whew. Temporary relief.

They say two's a company and three's a crowd. Then boy do I love crowds. Because in crowds you could choose whether or not to participate, unlike in the case of two individuals. Having grown to detest small talk, I've always dreaded conversing with another person alone. Conversations with a purpose are so much easier to handle. This may seem like a very basic skill we learn as we grow, but I've been shying away from it. In fact, it is more awkward with someone I know rather than a stranger. Introductory interactions are the same every time. But repeated meetings take effort to keep hold.

More often than not, I've either preferred a company of three or else just my own. This is of course, save for my closest friend who I've fortunately become very comfortable with. I dare say that I'm blessed for the same. There are people out there who I've met and talked with several times, but eventually stopped even acknowledging me on encounters. But to be honest, I don't mind that. I wouldn't want to small talk with every other acquaintance. But when it comes to the people I meet often, I believe I haven't been doing well in maintaining relationships.

I'm nearing the next turning point of my life, a perfect opportunity to start afresh and correct my ways. The awkwardness won't leave that easily. But I must try. Like they say, success begins outside the comfort zone. It's time that I got out. It'll take quite an effort to push down my nervous thoughts and speak. But it's got to be worth it. It's a fact that avoidance is not the solution to the problem, after all.

And maybe it won't be so bad. What I need is to be less self-conscious. I must understand that there is no compulsion to talk any differently from when I do in a group. Oh but I'm already picturing myself in a nervous silence still. Sigh. Okay, back on track. I realize that I don't need to force it. Just like I don't when I'm with my partner. I'm free and comfortable. All I need to do is be myself with anybody else too. There's nothing wrong in doing that. I wonder why I've been restraining myself.

Also, it'd help to take interest in other's lives. Get to know them. I've treated people with aloofness, I'd say, only expecting the same in return. Perhaps I should learn to get involved.

Well, here's the first of the 26 steps ahead I'm attempting to take. I hope I'd come back and read this as a reminder now and again until I'm well out of this inhibition.

Have you been in awkward situations as well? Wait, that's not right. Have you been awkward in normal situations? I'd love to know how it was dealt with.



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This is a part of the April A to Z challenge under the theme of 'My Inhibitions' or 'An Ode to Myself'. Read the other posts here.

Theme Reveal - An Ode to Myself
A for Awkwardness
B for Books
C for Connections




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