I Don't Know How to Talk to People - the Confessions of an Extrovert
How do I cope with being an awkward extrovert?
Let's get straight to the point. I used to be a very awkward person. Most of my friends would say I still am. Yet I somehow feel that I've changed. Through developing strange ways to cope, I've created a sort of shell around myself. This shell is literally double the awkwardness. Now I know I'm not making a lot of sense here, but give me a couple paragraphs to explain this strange phenomenon that both empowers me and degrades me at the same time.
So let's begin with the awkwardness. I'd like to start by making a bold claim: everyone has experienced some kind of awkwardness in their life. It could be anything from an awkward silence when you didn't know what to say for what felt like a very long time, to not asking for help because you don't know the person enough to ask for it.
As an extrovert (90% of the time), I feed off of human interaction. Talking to people I know is like taking a couple hundred shots of heroin (not that I would know, please don't do drugs). But yes, even the simple act of someone saying hi to me can pull me out of a slump.
But I absolutely do not know how to interact with people. What do you really talk about? How do you make deep connections? How do you start conversations? (These are not rhetorical, please tell me if you have these answers.) But seriously. I could not, for the life of me, talk. By the end of ninth grade, I had decided in my mind that I would never have more friends than my tiny friend group of five people, in which I knew three people well. Then began tenth grade. The pivotal year, some could say. I changed dramatically, and I don't know why. But here's how I did it.
I noticed that, for my age group, there was only one universal thing that brought everybody together. And that is laughter. There are two sides to it: let's call the person who laughs the laugher, and the person who makes them laugh the laughee. I'm pretty sure these are scientific terms.
Anyways, when two people laugh together, it seems to build some strange friendship between the two. They remember you from that joke, and they remember you laughing. And usually the relationship is favoring the laughee, because the person remembers them for making the joke, versus the laugher only being remembered because they laughed. So I realised I could have the advantage if I became the laughee.
I decided my universal mission was to make everybody I wanted to be friends with laugh. And slowly I figured out that the best way to do so was making jokes at someone's expense. But because nothing in me can make a judgement of someone out loud, I decided I would make jokes about myself. At first, it was self depreciation. Now in the beginning it was funny, but the more I did it the more depressed I got, and the more people got legitimately worried about me. So I decided with the practiced caution of someone who has no clue what they are doing, that I would be totally and utterly stupid. This could range from tripping on stuff randomly, to wearing wigs and running down the halls, to making terrible puns. Oh, the sheer number of people that laughed, both with me and at me. The more stupid stuff I did, the more people remembered me. And the more friends I had. Suddenly people would randomly text me with: "you're so lame lmaoo remember that time you *insert stupid thing*"
Now presently, I'd say I have 50 superficial connections and not that many deep ones. And I simply can't figure out what to do to make them deeper. Will I always be that person who did something stupid in their mind?
If you were reading this article for some kind of answer or solution to being awkward, I'm so sorry I might have misled you in the beginning. But do grow with me and tell me your stories, so I can learn from them with you.