We’ve all experienced awkward moments. I’ve enthusiastically waved at a person who was waving at the person behind me. I’ve mistakenly sent a really personal email meant for “Mama” to Mahmed at Target customer service. I’ve confused the gesture of a simple handshake with that of a full bear hug. I’ve fallen to my face in a large crowd, released painful gas in a crowded elevator and accidentally made prolonged eye contact with a convicted felon while serving on jury duty. I might be the most socially awkward person on the planet.
But the worst form of social awkwardness, for me, is being the lone gal in a large group. There is nothing worse than standing alone like a reject while everyone else is engaged in conversation. The mere thought of it makes me want to vomit. However, I’ve learned a few tips for dealing with this specific circumstance of social awkwardness.
1. Your Phone Is Your Best Friend
What in the world did we socially awkwards do before the days of cell phones? I used to bite my fingernails down to the nubs (I want to take this opportunity to thank the technological advancements of today for saving my cuticles).
So, it’s pretty simple, really. Just pull out your phone. Check Facebook, Google Corey Haim, strike that, Feldman. Text everyone you know. Hold the phone to your ear and pretend you’re having a conversation with someone who finds you extremely interesting. Just make sure it is set to silent if you do this. Your awkwardness will be greatly increased if the phone rings in your ear while you’re pretending to talk on it.
2. Cling To Another Social Misfit
On the unfortunate occasion that you don’t have access to your smartphone, scour the room for another socially awkward individual. He/she should be pretty easy to spot, standing away from the group, texting with both thumbs like a mad person. Introduce yourself and then cling to them like Gorilla Glue until the function is over. This person will be as thankful for you as you are for them.
3. Fake It Till You Make It (Out of There)
Under the absolutely horrific circumstance that you don’t have access to your phone or another lonely individual, just jump into an ongoing discussion with others. Yes, this will be hard if you are shy, but you don’t have to be knowledgeable about their topic of conversation. If they are talking about an upcoming trip to Disney, and you’ve never been and feel you have nothing to offer to the conversation, don’t worry. Pretend to have travel agent type knowledge about the Magic Kingdom. Just use the word “Epcot” often and you’ll be fine.
4. Become a Foodie
Pretend that the plate of hors d’oeuvres setting before you is the most important meal you’ve ever feasted upon in your life. Carefully observe each chunk of bleu cheese on the salad. Use the tiny fork to maneuver the massive meatballs around the dish. Savor each bite and chew slowly, as if you are your great-grandmother at Christmas dinner. Gaze intensely at the artichoke dip. People will assume that you are so enthralled by the meal that you are perfectly content eating it all alone.
5. Become an Artsy
It doesn’t matter that the most interesting piece of art in your home is a wrought iron rooster that you scored at Hobby Lobby for 60% off. While you are at social functions, deeply admire vases, lamps, wall art, etc. as if you are completely captivated by it. If you are convincing enough, people will either leave you alone because they think you are in some kind of artsy trance or they will ask your opinion about the piece. If they do ask your opinion, just refer to the “Mosaic Period” a lot. Wait, is that an art period or a dinosaur period? Or neither…
6. Throw Back a Cocktail or Twelve
I don’t advocate the use of alcohol to self-medicate, but a glass of wine does have the power to loosen the chains of social awkwardness. Mr. Merlot will have you feeling like a social butterfly in no time. Just take heed: If drinking gives you the overwhelming desire to climb onto the dinner table, thrust your hips and sing “Pour Some Sugar On Me” into a steak knife then Mr. Merlot may actually contribute to your social awkwardness. (If alcohol isn’t available, come equipped with a couple of Pixie Stix. Those ought to do the trick.)
Don’t be afraid to slip off to the bathroom for a while. However, this can be tricky because you don’t want to be gone so long that people assume you are a social reject suffering with explosive diarrhea.
8. Fake an Illness and Hightail it Outta There
So you spent half an hour on Wikipedia learning about Stephanie Tanner’s drug addiction, clinged to another socially awkward chick who referred to her imaginary friend equally as often as she referred to her favorite sock puppet, pretended to know all of the tourist attractions in Dubai, chewed a bite of quiche for seven minutes, stared at a painting that resembled your preschoolers latest fridge masterpiece, drank three shots and played five games of Candy Crush while sitting on the bathroom vanity and you’re still having a horribly awkward time?
It’s perfectly acceptable to fake the most excruciating migraine or hemorrhoid flare-up you’ve ever experienced in your life. Just thank the hostess for inviting you (even though she did a crappy job at making you feel comfortable at a function where you knew no one) and go home. You’ll heave an incredible sigh of relief as soon as you get in your car.
Above all else, remember that you are not the only person to suffer with sweaty armpits and heart palpitations at a social event. It could be worse, actually. You could be the annoying bubblehead who just spent 45 minutes loudly talking about her luteal phase and laughing like a hyena.
If that’s the life of the party, I’d rather be socially awkward, thank you very much.