Let the Awkward One InApril 25, 2011
“I think I figured out one of the reasons why I’m socially awkward,” I say.
“Is it because you’ve spent the last five years lost in your own fantasy world of writing a blog about a ninja chick, a Wiccan pimp, and superheroine whose legs don’t work?” says Bernie the Half-Cyborg Cat.
“So your social awkwardness is based on your thirst for the blood of the living?” says Bernie the Half-Cyborg Cat.
“No, it’s based on the fact that I don’t feel socially comfortable unless some sort of invitation is offered to me,” I say. “I need some sort of outside prompt, whether overt or subtle, before I can shed that wallflower mentality.”
Bernie the Half-Cyborg Cat purrs contemplatively. “Interesting… especially since once people know you then you feel free to let loose with all the crazy, inappropriate stuff running around in your head.”
“Yeah, like I need clearance from the tower before my crazy plane can land and unload its cargo,” I say.
“You have two social speeds: awkwardly shy at the low end of the knob, and warp speed eccentric with no filter on the high end,” says Bernie. “And the outside social invitation prompt is sort of like that person signing a waiver to allow you to crank it from 1 to 10, seeing how there aren’t any midway settings on your dial.”
“I think it’s also that I have personal boundaries and I see my potential social trespassing as an invitation to invade my boundaries,” I say. “So I hang back as if to not provoke someone to attempt a breach of my boundaries.”
“You have spent way too much time amongst cats,” says Bernie. “We have our boundaries, especially with people we don’t know, but after we’re cool with you we’re jumping up on your chest while you’re laying on the couch and sticking our asses in your face.”
“Or I’m overcompensating for social anxiety by vacillating between two extremes: withdrawn shyness and opening Pandora’s Box of impulsive behavior,” I say.
“It could be worse,” says Bernie. “You could be boring.”
At that seems like the worse sin of all, socially speaking: to not be interesting. And perhaps the invitation (whether illicit or explicit) is a validation along the lines of “you’re interesting enough to join.” And once that validation is made the fear of not being interesting fades and the full beast can come out.
Or it could be that I’m just bullshitting myself for being an inconsistent, fearful, self-loathing, socially-inept twat who wouldn’t know how to cultivate personal relationships even if given a magical textbook on the topic with all the answers jotted down in the margins by the last pathetic soul to own the tome.
“Shut the fuck up and pick up the sparkly stick,” says Bernie the Half-Cyborg Cat, swatting me in the ankle with his paw. “Your navel-gazing is interfering with my schedule. I’ve got a nap in a cardboard box slated for 3pm, right after some sparkly stick playtime.”
It’s not that cats don’t ponder these crises of self, it’s that they’ve evolved beyond them.