Many years ago, before I was in a long-term relationship, before I was the vixen and romantic Casanova that I am today (that was a joke, I'm still a nerd), I was also awkwardly navigating the dating pool, probably more awkwardly than your average 20-something girl. Like a lot of you that I've noticed, I also suffer from social anxiety, and to this day I still struggle with the simple task of calling a doctor's office, or ordering a pizza! Writing is easy, I can carefully decide what I'm going to say, delete and edit as I go, but conversations are hard! What do I say? How do I say it? And there's no deleting something once it's said, it's out there, and never going away!
During the height of my awkwardness, I was a frequent customer of a convenience store near my house, normally stopping in once a day for coffee or lunch or what have you. On one of my trips, I noticed this rather handsome fellow who worked there and I was immediately smitten. He was adorable and nice and everything that I could have ever imagined that I wanted in a boyfriend (f you read my previous MyTake, you'll know that I was most certainly putting him on a pedestal here): I knew nothing about him and yet I was madly in love, but I digress.
So I started stopping in more frequently to see him, and then eventually to start talking to him. The conversations were just as awkward as you can imagine, rife with intense blushing, boring small talk, and me far too afraid to ask for his number or drop any significant hints that I wanted him to ask me for mine. Looking back at these moments I still suffer from feelings of intense anxiety, just thinking about how I acted makes me embarrassed, and I've long since moved on from my convenience store crush! Months passed, I continued stopping by and buying stupid things just to have an excuse to see him and talk to him, and I gradually started to get an idea of when he worked and when he had off.
Thus comes this biggest blunder in history...
So one day I'm there, I'm talking to him, things are going as well as could be expected, and time came to say goodbye, so I told him I'd see him Friday, as that was when he worked next.
“Wait- do you know my schedule?” He asked jokingly, and in a fit of panic I replied- “I'm sorry!” And ran away, never to face him again.
My sister was waiting for me in the car, and when I told her of this interaction, she about died laughing. Here I was mortified, and she thought it was the funniest thing she'd ever heard in her life. She offered up a least a dozen things I could have said to make the situation better, to diffuse it so he didn't know that I was a crazy stalker, but in my intense state of panic all I thought to do was apologize, effectively admitting my guilt and the fact I was crazy and knew his schedule. I knew then that I could never go back in there and face him again, so I avoided it for the longest time, returning only when I knew that he wouldn't be there, because I was insane and memorized his schedule...
I had high hopes that he thought my weirdness was quirky or endearing, but I think in the end he just thought I was strange, which admittedly I was. But due to that mortifying incident, I learned a few things about myself and dating as a socially awkward person...
1. It wouldn't have worked out
Despite my thoughts to the contrary, the odds were that he and I weren't very compatible. I didn't know anything about him except for where he worked, and that he was nice to me, a customer, which I believe was in his job title. If he was already freaked out by me, I can guarantee that he wouldn't have been very tolerant of my other strange quirks, and thus it wouldn't have ended up well. You need to be realistic about your dating aspirations and your feelings (love vs. lust, infatuation vs. liking), and avoiding placing the object of your affection on a pedestal.
2. I should have wo-manned up
Okay I know that I just said we wouldn't have worked out, what with my being a dork and all, but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't have just been brave. When it comes to dating or asking people out, the worst thing that anyone can say is “no.” And I know, I know, that's what everyone says, but it's true. Nothing ventured is nothing gained, and to this day I don't actually know how he would have answered, because I was never brave enough to ask. Considering things turned out the way they did, I would have lost nothing by just asking him for his number.
3. Force yourself to be uncomfortable
This ties into wo-manning up, but you have to be willing to put yourself out there before you even ask for a date or a number. Sure, it's nice and safe at home in your room,but you're never going to meet someone there; even if you're dating online, eventually you'll have to go out and meet that person. Sure you'll be nervous as hell, and the other person might even be able to tell,but the ideal person won't mind, and will maybe even find it endearing. I was terrified to talk to him, but I made myself do it, and I think I'm better for the experience.
4. It isn't the end of the world
So you did it, you forced yourself to be uncomfortable and talk to them, you manned up and asked them for their number, you were positive you were compatible and they still said no. Well that sucks, but unfortunately it happens and it will probably happen again. You may never know why you were turned down, but no good will come from dwelling on it. Instead, be proud that you went outside your comfort zone and take what you learned and apply it towards the next person! I could have easily been consumed in self-doubt and sadness, but instead I moved on to the next fish in the sea!
Dating can be hard, dating when you're socially awkward can make it even harder, but it's not impossible. My best advice is to own up to that awkwardness: it's what makes you, you! You'll never be that suave womanizer or confident gal, but you don't have to be! Just be that dork, be that girl who says the wrong thing sometimes, or the guy who blushes too much; better to be yourself than have to pretend to be someone you're not to get someone who was probably not right for you to begin with. When the right person comes along, your interactions will come as naturally as breathing, and instead of seeing the “creepy” guy or the “strange” girl, they'll see you for who you really are.
Which admittedly, is still going to be awkward, but the right person won't mind at all.
And as a side note, I ended up catching up with my crush on Facebook a year or so after my initial crash and burn to apologize for being a total loser. Turns out that he DID think that I was quirky and endearing, but had a girlfriend at the time, so yeah, dorky girl for life.