Back in college, while most of you had issues talking to girls, I had my own battle to deal with; being a part of a decently long conversation with anyone without making a fool of myself. I struggled to gain acceptance in a friend circle of any size. Large & small. I remember trying hard to impress with talking about relevant topics, so I would pre-decide what I'd talk about first, and then strategize a time to throw an open ended question to my friends and wait for the credit later. I soon realized that this plan backfired, when any of them would answer my question, they'd expect me to follow up with a supporting statement. This is where I'd go expressionless, tongue-tied and absolutely blank.
Here's a gist of my problem in real time:
Me: "Oh did anyone watch that episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. yesterday?"
Friend: "Yea, dude.. Rachel is so hot. I also envy all their lives in New York"
That's it. I'm done. My speech glands would throw in the white towel, I'd smile awkwardly, look around shyly, hope somebody else would say something else to change the topic, or someone would shoot me in the head to put an end to my misery. Yep, It was that tough to continue a stream of a fruitful conversation.
The worst comes when I'm in conversation with two friends, and one of them walks away, leaving me with the other. I still remember the beads of sweat that I try to keep from rolling down my head. I stare at this friend, and start a silent timer in my mind; in hope that I would see through this time without a moment of awkwardness. This one time I will never forget, It was more like a life changing experience for me:
It had been just a few seconds since my friend and I were left to ourselves, and I already began feeling the tension in the air. I began with "So.. What's up" to fill that void. He looked at me suspiciously since it had already been an hour since we met each other. "You tell me" he responded. I scanned around to look for any distraction, so I could talk about that. I didn't see any. I tried hard to think of something to say, to keep me in the game. I suddenly saw a bulb glowing in one dark corner in my mind, and this is what I said: "So, tell me more about your girlfriend. Do you like her?" I thought it was a relevant question. Honestly, I wasn't sure. I'd just have to wait and watch how he responded. He stared at me for a few seconds and said "You are not good." I thought i heard that all wrong. Just to be sure, he said it again "You aren't good to talk to".
A part of me died; right there.
Those beads of sweat trickled down my head onto the rim of my spectacles, and the condensation that formed on my glasses blurred my vision. That's all I remember, but that was enough to let you guys know just how agonizing it was to maintain an interesting conversation full of relevance, and practicality.
People have given me all kinds of advise to get around this by saying "don't be the first one to speak" and "wait for the other person to ask you something first". But I'm not that way. I need to initiate. It wasn't long before I gave into believing I'm probably just built this way. I can't for the life of me imagine myself having a one on one intriguing conversation about where our country is heading, or what is wrong with the socio-economics of today's world (i don't even know if socio-economics is a word, but you know what I mean) Instead, I have taken to the path of the unknown. I've set sail to a place full of awkwardness, as i ask you not about your profession and where do you stay, but ask about why do i feel your head looks bigger than normal, or if you ever worry about dying alone in life?
The point to this all? Something new.
We're always going to be friends, and you'll meet millions of friends after me. But this is my way of getting to know you better. And for you to distinguish our friendship from the rest. Embrace that feeling of awkwardness. Needless to say, you don't have to answer them, but I'm really hopeful you would. Even though you may feel this is completely unnecessary, you'll hear a silent cry from that part of you inside, who really wants to answer that question. So go for it. Let's see where it goes.
Follow me @awkwardnik to be a part of the hot seat, where I'll ask you one awkward question a day, and you play sport. You don't have to; but it would be just another way to get you thinking about something random.