On the precipice of a busy weekend filled with parties and holiday cheer, I find myself preparing to face an inevitable evil:
Talking to people I don't know.
Oh, the horror!
I dread small talk. Or rather, I'm not good at it.
It's not as though I dislike people on the basis of not knowing them- I just get stressed and clammed up when a meeting occurs. When it comes to small talk I am an epic fail. If I don't know someone, beyond a few intro questions I run out of things to say. For someone who had a lot of random blind dates for date parties in college, you think I would have made some improvement in this area, but you would be wrong. First impressions are rarely smooth-sailing for me; they are more like a perfect storm of uncomfortableness and forced questions.
There are things I consider myself good at, such as cooking, choosing outfits, holding my own in a sports-related conversation or giving unqualified relationship advice, and then there are things I am less-inclined to, like pop-culture references, making music recommendations and talking to strangers. Those do not come naturally for me.
I am thankful that I live with MG because my social anxiety, as I have found out, is not weird. Or maybe we are just weird together, which I can also live with because MG is very funny and likes to talk about novels and eat chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs. I can appreciate all of those qualities. We have been, among other things, known to avoid random acquaintances at church, disappearing with the stealth of undercover spies until the coast is clear while one of our friends like CC, for example, hugs and greets every familiar face she sees. It's torture.
It's a deceiving sort of anxiety that we have because because we function normally in society. We both willingly joined a sorority and were actively involved in other activities in college. We have many close friends and both have jobs that involve talking to people for many hours of the day. When we are home with KS, we are rarely in our rooms because we are hanging out together. KS is good influence because she is nice to everyone, could talk to a wall if you asked her too and she's a master at flirting. Flirting is advanced on the socializing ladder, in case you were wondering.
An added issue is that most everyone by their mid-20s seems to develop the habit of saying: nice to see you. It is a practiced response and many people seem to say it without much consideration to whether they have met you or not. I like believing that politeness should be genuine, not generic. It is perfectly normal for two people to have run in similar circles and never met each other before- stranger things have happened, I assure you. My social anomalies give me a heightened sense of awareness around strangers, so I usually know if I have met you before. People who actually take the time to remember make themselves memorable to those who pay attention.
There are two things I have found that make meeting people easier: first would be that they are already a friend of a friend and you are meeting them in the context of people you already know. This makes any situation more automatically more relaxed because you are with people who put you at ease.
And the second? The second would be having a few drinks and hoping for the best.
Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.