I am an awkward penguin.
That's not to say I literally waddle my way through life, but most days, it certainly feels that way.
Generally speaking, I'm pretty ok with this fact.
The thing is, I can usually suffer through this because I often avoid being in situations where I will have my awkwardness maximised. I'm happy to live in my bubble of social ineptitude as long as I'm not in settings where I'm forced to be in the spotlight.
Like being caught off-guard in a meeting and floundering for words, especially when I'm the lone person sitting opposite more than one person, or being at a party where I only know one person.
The level of discomfort I feel is tantamount to that of walking into an exclusive boutique only to be given the eye because you simply don't look like the clientele that is being normally catered to.
The amount of social interaction I can endure is directly related to the level of comfort I feel amongst people.
I've written about being somewhat of an introverted extrovert before (with the emphasis on the introverted part), and what usually happens is that people often assume that I'm surly, not having a good time or both.
Truth be told, my tendency to shy away from being in the spotlight, is definitely a combination of the following: having a social threshold that only extends to people I allow into my bubble, the fact that I'm a better listener than a talker, and me preferring to be locked inside my own headspace.
The problem with this is that I've spent so much of my time inside myself that I've developed an inner sanatorium that's tailor made just for me. In my head, I play out different roles; those roles being a version of myself that doesn't or can't seem to manifest itself outside of the one that exists.
It must be the book lover in me, but I guess I’ve always been better at living my life in a dreamscape in comparison to communicating with actual people.
Ask me a question and I’m liable to stumble my way through an answer. Tell me to interact at a social event and you’ll find me in the corner of the party, playing with someone’s cat instead.
But you know what, I’m okay with this.
For the longest time I’ve actually believed that something was very wrong with me.
That because I’m not as loud or shine as bright, I would need to overcompensate by filling silences that just made me feel worse about myself afterwards. That I’d need to be a stand up comedian in order to be valued as a good conversationalist. And mostly, that I’d need to compete to have my voice heard.
I’ve come to learn though that silent moments are only as awkward as you make them, that many people often appreciate a good listener instead of having someone talk over them and mostly, I’ve come to the realisation that pretending to be a person you’re not comfortable with being will only make you resent the people who are naturally, and effortlessly extroverted.
And hey, some of my extroverted friends consider me a gem in their lives, so who am I to want to change that. Right?