To say I am socially awkward would be an understatement. I regularly put my foot in my mouth, speaking out of turn. I constantly lose my train of thought. Stories are rarely told to completion. There is a beginning and middle, but rarely an end. I misunderstand (or misread) social cues constantly. I never know what to do or say. Should I offer empathy or sympathy? Supportive silence, an off-color joke, advice, or a hug? And I suck at small talk. I stumble over my words much as a newborn fawn does their hoofs. My voice waivers and shakes. I tremble with each sentence and every step. But my social awkwardness isn’t just external, it is internal — as much a feeling as it is a behavior or action.
“Social awkwardness isn’t a mental health issue,” an article on Healthline explains. “There’s no diagnostic criteria or even a concrete definition. It’s more of a feeling, or a collection of feelings and experiences that form a pattern in your life, and these feelings and experiences often result from [a] failure to notice certain social cues [or a] misunderstanding or not noticing others’ body language.” Heidi McKenzie, a Pennsylvania-based therapist, tells Healthline: “socially awkward people might have a hard time navigating conversations or working their way into a group. As a result, they might seem a bit ‘off.’”
Here are 13 things only socially awkward people will relate to — or understand.
1. You are constantly having a conversation with yourself.
From your thoughts and actions to the words that do (or don’t) come out of your mouth, socially awkward individuals are constantly criticizing themselves. They fear sounding stupid and/or being inappropriate. Socially awkward people, like myself, worry their thoughts don’t matter. Their words and actions are insignificant. So they judge themselves, constantly. They say things like “you shouldn’t have done/said. You’re so freakin’ dumb.” And socially awkward people carry on a perpetual inner dialogue — with themselves. Their brains never shut up, or slow down.
2. You’d rather have a tooth pulled than go to a party or engage in small talk at a club or bar.
I mean, is there anything worse than being sandwiched between dozens of sweaty, half-drunk dudes trying to hit on you or (worse) engage in small talk? I think not.
3. You never know what to do with your hands. Seriously. What the hell should I do with my hands?!
While it may seem strange to discuss hand placement — after all, we’re talking about social awkwardness here, not acting, modeling, or making shadow puppets — most socially awkward individuals do not know what to do with their body. Like, our limbs are extensions of our bumbling brain.
4. You avoid eye contact like the plague.
You look downward. You glance to the left — and then maybe the right — but you never, ever make direct eye contact. Why? Because if you do, you have to say something. You have to do something. Ugh. As if.
5. Accepting compliments is impossible. The thought of being admired or receiving adulation puts you on edge. It also makes you cringe.
Friend: “You look so pretty today!”
Me: “Uh, okay. What should we order for dinner?”
6. You hate the phone, and rarely answer your door.
While this may be more of a generational trait than anything, let it be known that socially awkward individuals hate talking on the phone. Like, truly hate it. Why? Because these conversations revolve around small talk — and those who are socially stunted, like myself, avoid meaningless banter at all costs.
7. You’re super self-conscious.
While it may seem obvious, socially awkward individuals are super self-conscious. From fearing judgment and crowds to saying the wrong thing, we worry. A lot. Many of us also feel we are failing and flailing. Nothing we do is “right.” And yes, even our laughs are wrong. We are uncomfortable and uneasy, through and through.
8. You struggle to make sense of your thoughts.
Does the phrase “verbal diarrhea” mean anything to you?
9. Ordering fast food — or any type of food — stresses you out.
Three words: Too much pressure.
10. You struggle with names.
Whether you’re meeting a new person or colleague or friend of a friend, you won’t recall their name, even after a formal introduction. Why? Because socially awkward people are so focused on their bumbling, stumbling selves that they fail to process the moment.
11. You’ve faked texts and/or phone calls to avoid conversations.
That, or you’ve crossed the street. Search your soul. You know this to be true.
12. You’re clumsy AF.
From falling off of curbs to tripping over your own two feet, most socially awkward people are also seriously unbalanced. It’s that whole disconnect between your bumbling, stumbling brain.
13. And you’re constantly apologizing… like, for everything.
Did you speak out of turn? Stay silent when you should have raised your voice? Maybe you simply avoided a social situation altogether, choosing to stay in with Netflix and wine? Whether you acted “inappropriately” or failed to show up, socially awkward people apologize for everything. Sorry, but it’s true.