I have begun to hate the term “socially awkward” and all that it wrongly (I think) implies. This term gets used a lot in my line of work and I’m as guilty as everyone else of using it as a descriptor or explanation of someone who doesn’t quite fit the mold of “normal”. I hate that word too, FYI. If someone isn’t “normal” then obviously there must be some cause for alarm, something we need to have fixed, something that is lacking. I think usually all that is lacking is a desire to be in that self-righteous category of “normal”.
The phrase makes me think of Gollum – now there’s someone truly socially awkward. Hiding out in the dark, unable to develop and keep real relationships because he keeps killing people, really down on himself – and not wanting to be that way. But if someone isn’t relating to you in a way that you find normal and comfortable, that may say more about your awkwardness than that someone.
One of my favorite movie lines comes from Ghostbusters, where Peter (Bill Murray) is on a date in a fancy restaurant and his buddies bust in and are all excited about something they’ve discovered. As people nervously look around at the disturbance, Peter tells them “you’re scaring the Straights”. I feel like saying that all the time (usually about something I’m doing) but if I did, people wouldn’t get the movie reference and assume I am talking about sexuality. Which is a shame because the whole scene is so apropos to everyday life. No one wants you to do anything to scare the Straights. Otherwise you are labeled as weird, dangerous or socially awkward.
Don’t like networking or don’t want to join a club? You are SA. It can’t be that you detest small talk and your “club” is your group of friends or a solitary hobby. Don’t dress like everyone else? It can’t be that you have waaay better fashion sense, or like to play with styles or colors. You say what everyone is thinking? It can’t be that you are straightforward and hate wasting time with bullshit. Or just the opposite – you don’t say anything? It can’t be that you’ve learned people will look at you like you have three heads if you say what’s on your mind. Can it?
Using the “socially awkward” label really says more about your awkwardness with difference. Weird is wonderful.