I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
July 1, 2011
I wouldn’t exactly call myself a master of social interaction.
That whole I’M SO OUTGOING! SMILE! JAZZ HANDS! thing? It’s just a defensive technique I learned back in my cheerleading days.
Don’t get me wrong, I can hold my own at parties and gatherings. I’m completely comfortable on a stage or in front of a camera and I do just fine with a small group of friends, or even one-on-one over a cup of coffee.
But the truth is, one thing holds me back from being a social whiz. And unfortunately, that one thing is pretty major:
I suck at running into acquaintances.
In fact, it’s fair to say that acquaintances are the bane of my existence. For one thing, they’re everywhere I turn- in the aisles of the grocery. In the parking lot of the gym. At the pool. On the phone. In my neighborhood.
IN MY GRILL.
I’m not talking about acquaintances I interact with regularly on Facebook or my blog, or parents of my daughter’s current friends and classmates, or former Bible study members. If we’ve shared an experience or had lots of small conversations, I consider you to be a friend- or at least a would-be-friend-if-either-of-us-had-time-to-pursue-that-thing-called-friendship.
No, I’m talking about people like my 20-year-old stepdaughter’s 2nd grade teacher. And the guy I interviewed ten years ago about a tax protest. And that photographer I worked with on a one-day shoot when I was 25 years old. And the former manager (ca. 2004) of the Regal 12. People I know, but don’t really know. People who look vaguely familiar, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why.
These are the kinds of people that make my social life a living hell.
A big part of the problem is that I am utterly incapable of faking emotion. In general, I consider this to be a good thing- It keeps me honest. But it is definitely NOT a good thing when I run into you at the bakery and WHO THE HELL ARE YOU AND WHY ARE YOU SMILING AT ME? is written all over my face.
As I get older, I find myself analyzing my actions more in an effort to improve. In doing this, I realized the other day that I’ve developed a really pathetic technique to limp through the running-into-an-acquaintance process. After an acquaintance has been spotted, eye contact has been made, and interaction is unavoidable, here is my patented, five-step technique. (Warning: Don’t try this at home.)
My 5-step process requires a lot of thinking, doesn’t it? Running into an acquaintance is emotionally exhausting for me– and all I wanted to do was pick up a few things for a salad!
It occurred to me as I mulled over my process that I’m far from alone– social awkwardness is a surprisingly popular topic on the web. If I’ve learned anything online, it’s that a lot of us out there feel like social misfits underneath our piles of makeup/Dodgers caps/mullets/confidence wigs.
And so I’m bringing my problem to you, Internet. I’m offering it up for your dissection. I’m beseeching you to come to my aid.
Help me solve my acquaintance awkwardness…
LEST MY FIVE-STEP PROCESS ONE DAY BE — USED ON YOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUU. (Please read that with an echo effect. Thank you.)
Image via The Consumerist/Flickr