Are there people here who care about how they dress yet still are socially awkward?

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by kookydooky, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    Man, I feel your pain. I spent a large portion of my life feeling just like that, including a hell of a lot of time when I should have been interacting with all the interesting/attractive people around me, but just felt like I couldn't connect and couldn't figure out why not. The main things that helped me improve that part of my life have been: -Figure out what I want to do and then do it, stop wasting time on stupid crap like video games or watching/collecting movies and music etc. I'm not saying to cut everything that's socially fruitless out of your life, but figure out if you are wasting a lot of time on things that accomplish basically nothing toward social goals. Also, if you are doing work or study toward stuff that mostly doesn't interest you, your soul is being crushed and your social life will suffer. Then use that time to... -Become interested in other people. I decided to try to become the Zen master of awkward conversation. I found a friendly place, where people talk to each other, to hang out consistently and then would take any opening to try to make a conversation continue. People do want to talk to you, especially if you seem smart* (but not trying to prove it) and interested. They also want to talk about the things they have on their mind. Your job is to ask open ended questions to provoke them into talking, and then pay attention, and feed back some of what you just learned, and maybe a short bit of personal experience on the subject, and continue. I have met a ton of interesting people and learned that most of the people around me that I assumed were boring and vapid were actually mostly kind of shy (even if they appeared social) and just needed to feel like someone was actually paying attention before they would bother to open up and share anything they actually cared about. The things that people actually care about are usually interesting, but most people give up on talking about them to random people, because most people don't actually care what the other person is saying, they just wait for their turn to talk. Sometimes I find myself talking to this type of person, and though it was somewhat annoying at first, I have decided it is part of my giving back to humanity to humor them and let them talk about what they want to talk about. I know exactly what it is like to talk to only one or two people, always the same one or two, every day for months on end, and feel like you are dying to get out whatever it is that's been running through your head. So I let people do that, and I prompt them to continue, and usually, once they get through that, the conversation becomes somewhat give and take again. The thing is to get someone you're talking to to trust that you will not just leave once you realize they are boring, which is everyone's fear. Once they believe that about you, they will also be interested in you, maybe just for the fact that you're the only one they've met that ever gave them the time to talk about whatever. -Don't give up. It may take a long time before you are able to randomly knock up a conversation. And there are a lot of environments that are somewhat hostile to that sort of thing (until, I assume, you are a master.) Go around to all the cafes, bars, etc around you and find one where people seem to be talking to each other more than watching TV (find one without a TV, ugh) or sitting off in isolated groups. It will be much harder to get started in one of those types of places, and the people who will talk to you right off may be on the lonelier/more annoying side of the spectrum. -Don't always assume it's you that's making the conversation awkward. Some people are shier (shyer?) than you are, or are pissed off people, or really have nothing to say. Don't be afraid to try them another time, but don't assume that you've done something to warrant their behavior. They may be having a bad day, or not feel like talking, or just congenitally look pissed off. Assume that, if you are putting in a good faith effort to be friendly and interested, then their reaction is not your personal fault. Just tonight I was explaining to someone that a certain mutual acquaintance probably didn't actually hate him... she just always looks pissed. I was joking back and forth with her the other night, she seemed happy and was laughing etc., but... still looked pissed. Her face is just like that. I don't want to go on and on because I am definitely not the Zen master of conversation, but my point is that if you can make yourself be interested in other people, parse their input to find questions you can ask them to continue the conversation, and then remember what they said and prompt them the next time you see them, you will suddenly find you've made a bunch of friends, or at least (at first) people you can interact with and learn from. If you need to write down who you met and what you talked about and learned about the people, then do it. I was reflecting on things the other night and randomly decided to write down all the people I've met in the last 6 months or so, and whom I could tell anyone a fair bit about, and the total was around 60. This is completely unprecedented in my life (which is sad, but better late than never), and it's only the result of a concerted effort, but one which has been very enjoyable. And at this point, the discomfort and forced-ness of conversation with random people is almost gone, to the point where I sometimes feel like I'm one of those people that used to annoy the hell out of me, who would just start talking to the checkstand girl about whatever, and leave her smiling. I now realize those people are not all putting on a front and acting fake-nice to feel better about themselves or try to get laid - some of them actually do just find other people interesting, and anyone can do that. *an interesting (to me) aside: when I used to try to avoid "using big words" and "acting smart" around people, assuming they would think I was a pompous jackass, I never got very interesting conversation. When I started treating everyone as if they were at least as smart as me, and would understand what I was talking about (barring tech-speak, which I always explain in regular English if possible, or avoid) - I was pleasantly surprised to learn that most people are much smarter than they care to admit, and feeling like they are taken to be smart, and then having the chance to demonstrate it, inspires them to be smarter in conversation. I think a great deal of human intelligence is wasted because people fear the reaction of others if they "act smart".
     


  2. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    Damn that was long. So much for not going on and on.
     


  3. jbw

    jbw Active Member

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    ^but interesting and original
     


  4. mulansauce

    mulansauce Senior member

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    In response to the OP question: Yes, there are many well-dressed, socially-awkward people out in the world, and I would guess quite a few on this forum (apparently whodini and eason are not among them).

    j has some good advice.

    My advice: alcohol.
     


  5. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention alcohol. Also, start going out alone, ditch your friends, even if you like them. It's too easy to stay off in a safe zone if you go out with friends. You can go out with them sometimes too, but I've found it's a lot easier to socialize by myself, and less awkward to leave with someone else [​IMG]
     


  6. tagutcow

    tagutcow Senior member

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    So you end up going to pool places on your own?

    Do people generally just go up to you and join in when you are playing pool by yourself?


    Sometimes. I have a friend I play pool with on Tuesdays, at a bar that's usually pretty empty. Our friendship is pretty circumscribed, due in large part to his work schedule. On Thursdays I go to "college night" aka "thristy thursdays" aka "$.50 draft night", which sometimes gets a pretty big crowd. Sometimes I look back at the dance floor and see a big party going on, but I'm over at the pool table with no way to insinuate myself into that crowd.

    For playing pool, go to a bar with the coin operated tables (not the rugulation tables where you pay by the hour) and put your quarters up. It's socially acceptable for pool players to go out by themselves, and you get to do the whole business of talking with your opponent, choosing partners (if you're playing doubles) etc. What's more, you'll have a reason to be there, which means you won't feel self-conscious being there, which will make you appear more confident in your setting, which will make people more likely to come up and start a conversation with you.

    The cruel fact of the matter is that people tend to avoid a loner. Just like you need to have money to make money, you usually need to have friends- or at least appear to have friends- to make friends. The key for me is to go places where my aloneness is not cast into full relief. I've found the places that people often recommend for their social scene are often the exact places I want to avoid-- coffee shops, tightly-knit college bars, etc. When you go into a place like that, there is no disguising the fact you're alone. I'd much rather go to a mainstram "club" club where I can blend in with all the other lonely guys holding up the wall than go to a college bar where everyone's sitting at tables talking to eachother, and I'm the odd man out.

    Have you ever heard of the Hafler Trio? "They" are actually just one man, Andrew M. McKenzie, whose music I listened to a bit back in the nineties, and I was heartened to read this article and find that the experiences of this artist I respect coincided so much with my own:

    http://www.brainwashed.com/h3o/helph3o.html
     


  7. mulansauce

    mulansauce Senior member

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    Have you ever heard of the Hafler Trio? "They" are actually just one man, Andrew M. McKenzie, whose music I listened to a bit back in the nineties, and I was heartened to read this article and find that the experiences of this artist I respect coincided so much with my own: http://www.brainwashed.com/h3o/helph3o.html
    I have never heard of them (or, him), but I have come to learn that there are many successful/talented/famous people who have trouble connecting with others. It isn't nearly as uncommon or strange as some might think.
     


  8. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    People do avoid a loner, but that is not the same thing as being alone. You can go into a place alone and be social and end up hanging out with some of the people there for the rest of the night or beyond - it is entirely possible. If you go in and look afraid or too insecure to be up for hanging out, it will not happen.
     


  9. nyc_gaucho

    nyc_gaucho Senior member

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    Man, I feel your pain. I spent a large portion of my life feeling just like that, including a hell of a lot of time when I should have been interacting with all the interesting/attractive people around me, but just felt like I couldn't connect and couldn't figure out why not.

    The main things that helped me improve that part of my life have been:

    -Figure out what I want to do and then do it, stop wasting time on stupid crap like video games or watching/collecting movies and music etc. I'm not saying to cut everything that's socially fruitless out of your life, but figure out if you are wasting a lot of time on things that accomplish basically nothing toward social goals. Also, if you are doing work or study toward stuff that mostly doesn't interest you, your soul is being crushed and your social life will suffer. Then use that time to...

    -Become interested in other people. I decided to try to become the Zen master of awkward conversation. I found a friendly place, where people talk to each other, to hang out consistently and then would take any opening to try to make a conversation continue. People do want to talk to you, especially if you seem smart* (but not trying to prove it) and interested. They also want to talk about the things they have on their mind. Your job is to ask open ended questions to provoke them into talking, and then pay attention, and feed back some of what you just learned, and maybe a short bit of personal experience on the subject, and continue. I have met a ton of interesting people and learned that most of the people around me that I assumed were boring and vapid were actually mostly kind of shy (even if they appeared social) and just needed to feel like someone was actually paying attention before they would bother to open up and share anything they actually cared about. The things that people actually care about are usually interesting, but most people give up on talking about them to random people, because most people don't actually care what the other person is saying, they just wait for their turn to talk. Sometimes I find myself talking to this type of person, and though it was somewhat annoying at first, I have decided it is part of my giving back to humanity to humor them and let them talk about what they want to talk about. I know exactly what it is like to talk to only one or two people, always the same one or two, every day for months on end, and feel like you are dying to get out whatever it is that's been running through your head. So I let people do that, and I prompt them to continue, and usually, once they get through that, the conversation becomes somewhat give and take again. The thing is to get someone you're talking to to trust that you will not just leave once you realize they are boring, which is everyone's fear. Once they believe that about you, they will also be interested in you, maybe just for the fact that you're the only one they've met that ever gave them the time to talk about whatever.

    -Don't give up. It may take a long time before you are able to randomly knock up a conversation. And there are a lot of environments that are somewhat hostile to that sort of thing (until, I assume, you are a master.) Go around to all the cafes, bars, etc around you and find one where people seem to be talking to each other more than watching TV (find one without a TV, ugh) or sitting off in isolated groups. It will be much harder to get started in one of those types of places, and the people who will talk to you right off may be on the lonelier/more annoying side of the spectrum.

    -Don't always assume it's you that's making the conversation awkward. Some people are shier (shyer?) than you are, or are pissed off people, or really have nothing to say. Don't be afraid to try them another time, but don't assume that you've done something to warrant their behavior. They may be having a bad day, or not feel like talking, or just congenitally look pissed off. Assume that, if you are putting in a good faith effort to be friendly and interested, then their reaction is not your personal fault. Just tonight I was explaining to someone that a certain mutual acquaintance probably didn't actually hate him... she just always looks pissed. I was joking back and forth with her the other night, she seemed happy and was laughing etc., but... still looked pissed. Her face is just like that.

    I don't want to go on and on because I am definitely not the Zen master of conversation, but my point is that if you can make yourself be interested in other people, parse their input to find questions you can ask them to continue the conversation, and then remember what they said and prompt them the next time you see them, you will suddenly find you've made a bunch of friends, or at least (at first) people you can interact with and learn from. If you need to write down who you met and what you talked about and learned about the people, then do it. I was reflecting on things the other night and randomly decided to write down all the people I've met in the last 6 months or so, and whom I could tell anyone a fair bit about, and the total was around 60. This is completely unprecedented in my life (which is sad, but better late than never), and it's only the result of a concerted effort, but one which has been very enjoyable. And at this point, the discomfort and forced-ness of conversation with random people is almost gone, to the point where I sometimes feel like I'm one of those people that used to annoy the hell out of me, who would just start talking to the checkstand girl about whatever, and leave her smiling. I now realize those people are not all putting on a front and acting fake-nice to feel better about themselves or try to get laid - some of them actually do just find other people interesting, and anyone can do that.

    *an interesting (to me) aside: when I used to try to avoid "using big words" and "acting smart" around people, assuming they would think I was a pompous jackass, I never got very interesting conversation. When I started treating everyone as if they were at least as smart as me, and would understand what I was talking about (barring tech-speak, which I always explain in regular English if possible, or avoid) - I was pleasantly surprised to learn that most people are much smarter than they care to admit, and feeling like they are taken to be smart, and then having the chance to demonstrate it, inspires them to be smarter in conversation. I think a great deal of human intelligence is wasted because people fear the reaction of others if they "act smart"
    .


    shit...just as i was about to lose all faith in the people of sf (too much time in the CEsspool, i guess), jam master j busts out a fucking major thesis all in the name of helping a brother out...it warms the cockles...

    to the op...well, you've heard some good advice...mull it over...and, remember this:

    you may think you're pretty mature at 20 years old...but, emotionally, you are just a babe (teenagers are fetuses)...you have a lot of years to learn to open your heart to the world...and, when you do, you'll look back and laugh at why you ever found it so hard to begin with
     


  10. mulansauce

    mulansauce Senior member

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    People do avoid a loner, but that is not the same thing as being alone. You can go into a place alone and be social and end up hanging out with some of the people there for the rest of the night or beyond - it is entirely possible. If you go in and look afraid or too insecure to be up for hanging out, it will not happen.
    Probably the best advice I have ever received is to just fake it. Pretend you are confident and outgoing--just embrace it even if you couldn't be more unsure of yourself. If you do this long enough, it starts to become second-nature, and before you know it you aren't really pretending anymore. Also, to the OP: don't feel pressured to transform into an extrovert. If your life feels unfulfilled, it's perfectly healthy and normal to hone your social skills and to attempt to meet new people. But if you are satisfied with your life, don't feel compelled to change it just to appear "normal." It's perfectly normal and healthy to enjoy being alone.
     


  11. j

    j (stands for Jerk) Admin

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    ^^ Yeah, I should also say that leading up to the great "being social" experiment, I spent a lot of time in social environments, hanging out by myself, doing stuff I needed to do anyway (such as working on the forum or other work related stuff), being available to be friendly but mostly just getting used to being unaccompanied and out of the house. In the world we are in where isolation and insulation are easy to come by, it can be a bit of work just to feel comfortable being out of your little home-womb, exposed to all the uncontrollable eventualities of the world. If you are not comfortable with that yet, make that the first goal.
     


  12. JoelF

    JoelF Senior member

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    Excellent words here from j, especially on being interested in / listening to other people. That really works. Frankly many people are not all that interesting, but going down their road rather than your own will always yield much better results.
     


  13. clarity

    clarity Senior member

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    I don't really consider myself socially awkward but rather I don't bother trying to go out because there is next to nothing to do where I live. Most of my college buddies have all moved away too. I'm considering picking up and moving to a more lively place but the thought of just doing that is almost overwhelming. It would be for the better but having never lived more than a 2 hour drive from my home town it makes me nervous. The middle of NC where I am now just doesn't feel like an appealing place to be unless you are approaching 40 and trying to settle down.
     


  14. adamsnez

    adamsnez Senior member

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    I don't really consider myself socially awkward but rather I don't bother trying to go out because there is next to nothing to do where I live. Most of my college buddies have all moved away too. I'm considering picking up and moving to a more lively place but the thought of just doing that is almost overwhelming. It would be for the better but having never lived more than a 2 hour drive from my home town it makes me nervous. The middle of NC where I am now just doesn't feel like an appealing place to be unless you are approaching 40 and trying to settle down.
    you're overthinking it. just do it. i can tell you totally want to but are afraid to leave an established comfort zone. i still live at home (23y.o) but in 6 months when i grad i plan on moving to australia for 6months. straight out of home.. never been away. and im in a comfort zone. but think of this - if you stay and feel chained down; what did you miss? more than likely, a lot more than what you gained in the area you don't even enjoy living in

    do like counter-stirke (the half life mod hahah) and "GO GO GO!!"

    [​IMG]
     


  15. Matt

    Matt [email protected]

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    I never even was the weakest link in the group until the guys who I thought were my best friends in the group sold me out and told the other guys about stuff to make me the weakest link out of the blue and ever since then I just stopped really caring about being social.
    ahh - so am I right in assuming that here is the root of the problem?

    You in college now? Working? Other?
     


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