Written and Media by Mary Todd Christian.
We have all experienced social awkwardness from time to time, but I would argue that my social anxiety increased once I entered college. People are everywhere, you don’t always get a moment of privacy, and you begin replaying in your mind how situations could have gone better. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. Social awkwardness sometimes can’t be escaped, but thankfully there are ways to cope with it.
Surviving Small Talk
Small talk is the worst possible torture for a socially awkward person. Unfortunately, it’s almost a necessary evil in college because you are constantly surrounded by people, especially if you’re living in a dorm. When it comes to small talk, my advice is to just let it happen even though it’s the worst. Talk about classes and the weather. You never know, sometimes small talk can lead to a more meaningful conversation.
Surviving Awkward Encounters
Tacking onto the topic of small talk, you will undoubtedly run into people at unexpected times when you honestly have nothing to say. It’s super weird, especially if you keep bumping into the same person over and over. When this can’t be avoided, one tip I’ve learned when it comes to talking with others is to ask a question pertaining to them. This way you don’t have to do all the talking (I find it weird when I’m just talking about myself). Hopefully, the other individual is less socially awkward than you and the already awkward situation won’t be so awkward after all!
Surviving Large Crowds
It’s safe to say I am typically the wallflower at any event or party. While I love going to campus events, it’s easy to get overwhelmed because of the excess of people. If you’re anything like me, you probably assume your position in your favorite corner of the room. To survive awkward situations such as these, I take the opportunity to people watch ( maybe it’s creepy, but I’m already awkward, right?). This way, the event can still be enjoyed and you can pop in and out of conversations when you want!
About 6 months into my relationship with my boyfriend, I learned some people told him not to date me because I was awkward. Being that we’re now engaged, I’m thankful he didn’t listen to them. However, if you’re dating and you’re socially awkward, the best advice I have is to never give up and don’t listen to outside opinion, unless it’s an opinion of someone you trust. In reality, everyone is awkward when they first start dating. On the first few “Greenville dates”, you will go over all the necessary questions: “Where are you from?”, “What’s your major?”, “What do you want to do with your major?”, “What are you top 5 strengths?”. You also have to learn how to interact with your significant other’s friends. My advice is to be upfront with your significant other about what makes you uncomfortable. From there, you both can work through awkward situations together.
Overall, everyone experiences these awkward situations and really, it’s natural. It’s also best to remember that our minds like to overexaggerate. In the end, we’re probably not as awkward as we make ourselves out to be. Despite some of my ridiculous tips, embrace your awkwardness, and take small steps to improve your social skills when necessary.