In case I haven't made it clear...I'm rather socially awkward. Not that I have trouble talking, but most of the time I tend to ramble and put my foot in my mouth. Well, every time.
In an effort to maintain at least the appearance of normality when I meet strangers, I have started to watch what I say. And it's getting increasingly difficult if the person I am meeting is as awkward as me. Socially acceptable conversation starters are not my specialty. My old method used to be to fire questions at somebody I had just met until I found something we both liked, or had the same view on. Or if we had differing views, then we would at least have something to enthusiastically argue about.
However, at Joel's work party I really did want to make a good impression. Mostly because I've made such a bad impression at the last few. Note: do not drink as much as you can as quickly as possible to calm the nerves. Particularly when the drinks are free.
It was all going fine...until: Joel left me with someone as awkward as me.
And I had nothing to say.
I don't mean that I had nothing interesting to say.
I mean I had nothing to say AT ALL. Complete mind blank. I was desperately racking my brain for even just a coherent sentence. I stood there getting more nervous thinking 'what do people say to each other when they have nothing in common?'. Then it hit me.
I could talk about the weather! It's non-offensive, I couldn't possibly say anything that in some way insulted his long-dead great great great grandmother or his cat, and hey, it's something in common right?
So I opened my mouth to say 'it's getting quite hot lately'.
..but I couldn't do it. I didn't care about the weather, and I'm sure he didn't either. And why would I talk about something both parties had no interest in. When did it come to this? When did I become so dull that the ONLY thing I could think to talk about was the weather.
I just couldn't subject either of us to a pointless, dull conversation that would probably make things even more awkward.
So I said the first thing that came to my head. Instead of 'it's getting quite hot lately', I ended up saying 'I'm completely socially awkward and can't think of anything to say right now. I seriously have nothing to say.'
And it felt so good to be completely honest. Unbelievably good. I didn't have to force conversation. I didn't have to talk about the weather. I could just be myself. And myself had absolutely nothing to say right then.
Why has society forced us to feel that we always have to say something, no matter how dull or irrelevant it is? Why can't we just stand there in awkward silence and stare at a wall together? (which is what happened straight after he awkwardly laughed at me).
So from now on, I will always choose awkward silence over weather conversations. Just pray that you are never the person standing next to me when I run out of things to say.