Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Inertia (OOTD)

I've always considered myself to be a "people" person. You know, chatty, extroverted, happiest when surrounded by large groups of friends, etc. I have never thought of myself as "shy," and have never had issues with public speaking. What I have recently found, however, is that I'm awful at walking into a room of people I don't know (but who seem to know each other) and striking up conversations with them. I just feel so - well, shy. I don't want to intrude. I don't want to insert myself where I may not be wanted. Who am I to be interrupting their conversations? Suddenly, I don't know what to do with my hands or feet, and my limbs seem completely extraneous. Why am I here, taking up space and air?

I get into these situations, and it's as though I have no momentum. I sort of just stand there, wondering what to do next. Awkward? Yes. A little awful, even? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

Top: Crew Neck Tee, Gap (similar here and here)
Skirt: Mesh Midi Skirt, H&M (similar here, here, and here)
Scarf: Gleaming Intersection Scarf, Anthropologie (on sale!)
Headband: Sky and Land Headband, Anthropologie

So, if nothing else, these experiences (mostly incurred while attending blogger meet-ups and other events I've been invited to, as a blogger) have made me reassess myself and my social skills (or lack thereof). My husband, who also attends similar events (mostly tech-related gatherings) and is a self-identified introvert, seems to do a lot better at these things than me, but I'm not usually there to see how he goes about it. So, I'm reaching out to the rest of you who may have more experience with this stuff - how do you go about, meeting and introducing yourself to people in a non-structured social setting which you attend alone? What strategies do you use in these situations?

And as an aside, I've learned a thing or two (from the perspective of a guest) on how to host these events well:

1) If the host is good, they'll know you and greet you as soon as or very shortly after you arrive.

2) If the host is really good, they'll introduce you to other guests, with whom you might find something in common, to help you find your footing and break the ice.

3) If the host is really really good, they'll keep an eye out for singles or standing-on-their-owns, and engage them with another person or group quickly.

Note to self: be able to do all of the above, the next time I host an event. 


  1. pretty! love your outfit!!! xoo

  2. I totally agree, I love a good host! I am getting ready to throw my husband a birthday party, and it will bring together some people that don't know each other, but I am hoping to play games and such to get people mixing and mingling!

  3. littlegirlbigclosetAugust 17, 2011 at 11:45 AM

    Carol, you look so-ooooo-ooo beautiful. What a lovely outfit! Not a stitch out of place!
    I completely understand the feeling of painful awkwardness you describe in this post. I would actually describe myself as an ambivert, and although I make friends easily and enjoy being in social situations, in the kind of situation you talk about here, I would feel just as out-of-place and oddly embarrassed. It's actually happened to me before, more than a handful of times. And because I am so (maybe overly) sensitive to this issue, I go out of my way to be as gracious a hostess as I can possibly be whenever I throw a shindig, which is quite often. When I see the lone dinner guest or awkward girl in the corner who somehow didn't get absorbed into any of the conversation circles, I make every effort to remedy the situation.
    I come from a tiny nuclear family. When I first started dating DH, and started getting invited to all the family get-togethers, it felt so uncomfortable being the only one who didn't know any of the 60-odd first cousins. I'd just stand in a corner shuffling my feet and staring down at my plate, and wait for someone to direct a comment at me :-/

  4. MINDOFMR.BLOGSPOT.COMAugust 17, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    I feel your pain!  I know exactly how you's something I'm working on too-  but being at ease like that does not come naturally to me.

  5. Go in convinced that every person present has something completely fascinating about them that it's your job to discover. :)

    They actually do, and you won't get to all of them, but you'll have fun meeting the one's you do. and even better, when people feel you treating them like they're interesting, they start to feel interesting in ways they never imagined or had entirely forgotten about. And they'll think you're interesting, too. 

  6. Great timing with this post Carol! I actually went through this during my time in SD, and you know? Because I didn't want to engage in mindless small-talk and feel really uncomfortable, well, I think you know how that ended up! The point I'm trying to make, I think, is that sometimes you feel uncomfortable based on insecurities and uncertain of being welcomed into a new environment. For other times (like in my situation) it could just be your gut telling you that you don't feel like trying! And I think that's okay.

  7. Just want to let you know that you are not alone carol. I feel the same way when I attend meetings and events, especially when the people involved are higher up in the hierarchy (in career and social status) than me. I find it awkward and tend not to say much, for fear of sounding like an idiot. And will they even take me seriously? It's even trickier when people at these events are already in their own little groups! Im too scared to interrupt and join in. I think I need to work on my confidence in these sorts of situations,
    You look lovely carol!

  8. Funny that you mention this b/c I have grad school orientation tomorrow and I'm sure that I'm going to be in this exact situation at the mixer.  Ughhhhhh.

  9. I'm ridiculously introverted too.  And my mom is often very puzzled by it because I'm a high school teacher.  She's always amazed that I can stand in front of a class of kids and deliver lessons everyday.  What she doesn't understand is that its different when I'm talking about math, it's easier for me.  The kids are not there to figure me out or get to know me and there's no awkwardness.  I don't need them to like me. 

    It's very hard for me to talk to others in similar situations like the one you described above.  I get so overwhelmed and self conscious to "butt" into someone else's conversation.  I'm almost like a deer in head lights.  My husband get shy too sometimes but like your husband he handles the situation better.  He's the kind of guy that people find easy to talk to.  So whenever I'm in an uncomfortable situation with new people I rely on my husband to break the ice and start the conversation going.  When I'm on my own I usually just bomb. 

    This is an excellent post BTW!

  10. Love your notes for hosts :)  And I really, really love your skirt! I think sometimes with that its just getting used to a new type of social situation.  We do well when we are familiar, know the routines, etc.

  11. carol_prettythingsAugust 18, 2011 at 2:37 AM

    So true! And thank you!

  12. Totally feel you on this one! I think I'm a generally gracious and friendly person, but in unfamiliar group gatherings, I feel like a turd. What I try to do is look like I'm at ease, smile a Mona Lisa smile, and hope someone will come to me. Because I find it almost physically impossible to go insert myself in someone's conversation.

  13. honestly, i got into photography cuz i was too shy to walk up to people and talk to them. getting a picture of them for a major website is a good icebreaker.