Ask Max: I’m Awkward


This week on Ask Max we have a question from a college girl who needs some help getting over her awkwardness. Read on for the problem and my advice:

I am a long time lurker and love your blog.
So I’m in college and would like advice on how to be less socially awkward. I do have shy nature so this is where the awkwardness kicks in. I’ve joined clubs and dance teams but I still don’t have a group of people I fit in with. I’ve tried mingling with other people but failed. Though the college I attend does tend to be cliquey, I would still like to have friendships with people.

Feeling Friendless

Let me tell you a story about Max. When I was a teenager I went t our neighbourhood mall to pick something up for my mum. As I was headed toward the exit I bumped into one of our neighbours. Both her family and mine had lived on our street for years, so  I’d known her my entire life,  but this was the first time I’d ever been alone with her. She stopped me with an enthusiastic “Hi Maxine! How are you honey?” and I stood frozen in place. I felt so shy and awkward that I literally could not speak. She kept trying – asked what I was doing at the mall, if I was headed home, did I want a ride? And all I could do was stand there, with a maniacal smile frozen on my face. Finally she asked, “do you know who I am?” (I think she thought I was having a psychotic moment) but still I couldn’t answer. She gave up then, telling me to “get home safe” and went on her way.

If that isn’t awkward, I don’t know what is. So I definitely feel your pain.

Now that I’m grown I no longer stand paralyzed in fear when I spot an acquaintance on the street, but I do still have more than my share of awkward moments.  As a matter of face, just the other day at work I was frozen outside of a meeting I was late for, stretching my hand to open the door and then pulling it back because I was to shy to walk in mid-stream.  I ended up missing the meeting. But I have learned to get over it to the point where I can be a functional human being most of the time.

Like almost every other question I’m asked, the answer starts with confidence. Worrying about what people will think about what you say or do is part of what breeds shyness and awkwardness and confidence is the antidote to that. When you feel right about who you are and what you do, you won’t second-guess yourself as much and you’ll be able to relax and go with the flow. So get right with who you are. And if you aren’t, do what I always tell people to do: fake it til you make it.

On that note, one of the greatest tools in my arsenal against awkwardness is grooming. When I feel as though my looks aren’t on point my confidence wanes and then awkwardness increases. If I’m in a group of people looking like shit, I get self-conscious; worried that they’re paying more attention to my frizzy hair than to what I’m saying and I start to retreat inward. Clothes, shoes, hair, makeup – use them like armour against the oh so fabulous cliquey girls at your school. You probably feel weird mingling with them because you think they look better or are better than you, so do what you can to help level the playing field in your head. But also realize that they probably feeling the same way you are – they just do a better job of hiding it.

My last piece of advice for you is to remember this: no one is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about yourself. It’s not a test. When you approach a group of acquaintances to say hello after class, none of them is pulling out their mental scorecard and judging you on your mingling skills. It’s just not that deep. People want to like you so just give them a chance by relaxing and being who you are. If you go into it all nervous and fidgety like you’re being graded on your conversation skills, you confuse people and make them uncomfortable. So if you’re noticing that people are a bit standoffish with you when you approach them, that’s probably why. So go into your interactions assuming that you will like everyone and everyone will like you and you’ll be fine.  In other words, get over yourself.

That’s my advice, what say you readers? Do you have any advice to help get over awkwardness? Are you awkward yourself? Speak on it in the comments.

bag lady. digital nerd. beauty junkie. shoe whore. i'm a sucker for big words and box-fresh kicks. know a little bit about a lot of things and have something to say about everything.

Comments 7

  1. Manny says:

    Plan what you’re going to say in your head so you don’t stutter. Only the initial thing not the entire conversation, and smile. It’s friendly and makes you seem open.

  2. Cheekie says:

    LMFAO @ your awkward moment, Maxie.

    Oh, and this:

    “no one is thinking about you as much as you are thinking about yourself”

    Something I have to repeat to my neurotic self over and over again. Lawdhamercy gawd.

  3. Most says:

    Great advice Max! Now, after you’ve dolled yourself all up as Max suggested, and after you’ve allowed the whole “no one is thinking about me as much as I am” ideology to ingrain itself into your brain… just ask someone to be your friend.

    I’m serious.

    All it takes is one. Maybe there’s a girl in one of your classes or in one of the organizations your in that you think would make a good friend. The next time she’s like… “hey I’m going to the cafeteria to get some food…” just be like… “oh, I’m hungry too, can I roll?”

    I also would suggest joining a sorority. Everyone who’s in a fraternity or sorority likes to tell everyone that they had tons of friends and were super popular before they joined their organization -and some of us were – but the truth of the matter is, some of us definitely were not – and all of us – regardless of how many friends we had already, joined our organization because we were looking for a deeper level of companionship than we’d had to that point. Do you research, go to all the different informationals or rushes, read about the history, then pick one, see the process through to the end and you’ll be well on your way toward building lasting relationships. There’s no guarantee that you’ll meet your new bff – but it’ll definitely put you in a position to bond with people you might not have met otherwise.

    1. max says:

      This is actually really great advice. The last few new jobs I’ve had I’ve basically done this. “Oh you smoke? Immediately be my work friend!” something like that. People just laugh and go along with it and once you have one friend it’s that much easier to make more.

  4. Hidi says:

    Hi 🙂

    My advice for college girl is smile. Strangers love a smiling face; people will think that you’re friendly and want to engage in a conversation with you. In addition, it is always nice to see a pleasant face.

    As for me, I do have my awkward moments; I think everyone does. 😉

  5. Graduate. says:

    I agree with this advice to a point. Confidence is huge, and yes you have to stop second guessing every thing you say/do in front of people. But in order to do that you have sort of not give a fack if like u or not, cause you know you’re amazing. Be friendly to a point, open to convo etc.

    However, since you’re in school, you probably don’t have all kinds of money to buy shoes, clothes, makeup, hair etc.
    Don’t fall into that trap of spending $$$ to fill a void or ease insecurity, especially when you haveny even started a career yet.

    Groomming is key, play up what you have, work your best features,eat right, keep yout body nice, and buy yourself quality pieces that will last, when you can afford them.

    But don’t break the bank trying to fit in with all the little skanks at school. Their likely not even worth it. Just study hard and get out and go make your mark on the world.Then go stunt on bitches when you can afford it.

    And while your there find other awesomely awkward friends to hang out with. Maybe appraoch someone who has always seemed really shy as well… You guys can be shy together. JUST BE YOU. F*CK trying to fit in.

  6. Graduate says:

    Sorry for the duplicate comment.

    BTW… MAX! your awkward moment at the mall when you were young, soooo funny and cute. That is just like my daughter. She can get frozen sometimes and people in my family think she is being rude, but I know her and I can tell she is thinking a mile a minute on what to say and gets so flustered that nothing comes out. You just made my day with that one. Glad to see you grew out of it!! (OBVI) So there’s hope for her yet.
    And the next time it happens, I’m gonna say “it’s ok baby, mama knows you meant to speak” instead of gettig frustrated with her. LOL LOL Poor ting.

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