Sometimes I find it hard to interact with people, which means that I do not interact with them in the right way. I might come across weird or I’ll carry out a weird little action without giving a proper response. There are many times when people have said hello to me, but instead of replying back with hello, I just smile (sometimes awkwardly) and usually walk away – when telling some of my friends I’ve done this they say, “No Shaniqua, that’s not a response. You need to say hello back”.
On numerous occasions, I will say something without thinking, which can be taken the wrong way. It is not as bad when speaking to those closest to me, because they know me and are used to my personality, but those who are new to me can get the wrong impression. However, there are times when I think that what I’m saying is not rude, but others will not see it this way, including those close to me.
There was a time when I was introduced to an individual for the second time and I sat down on a step to speak to him for a short time, but I was slightly uncomfortable and I wanted to finish eating my soup. So after a short time I simply asked, “Can I go and eat my soup now?”, which my friend thought was rude but I was just hungry and wanted to finish my food in comfort. However, I did return to speak to him later so that he knew I had no issue with him. I now see that what I said was kind of bad, but I can just be very blunt at times and I say what’s on my mind without realising how it would sound once spoken out loud.
I also have the tendency to mess up good situations that may have been leading somewhere, as I become unusually awkward and struggle when I start to feel slightly uncomfortable. In the past, there have been a number of occasions when guys have smiled at me, but I’ve just laughed like an idiot, totally ruining any chance of further interaction. However, I learned to stop doing this a long time ago, as I grew up and matured.
There are also times when I haven’t continued or held a conversation as well as I could have, especially with guys and more specifically, with guys that I’m interested in. These are broken down interactions that bother me the most, as I’m always left thinking what I should have said to keep the conversation flowing and what I could have said to keep the interaction interesting.
However, there are two things that really make me feel awkward and mess me up when interacting with others. One thing I really can’t handle is having people stare at me, as it makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable and slightly agitated. I will purposefully avoid eye-contact, struggle with keeping the conversation flowing because I will keep asking, “Why are you staring at me”, and I may eventually walk away if the staring becomes too much. A really close friend of mine came down to my church once and he was continuously staring at me, which I could not handle at all. I kept on avoiding him and I barely spoke to him because the situation was so weird, but he never acted like that again so we’re all good.
Although I don’t get completely thrown off like when people stare at me, receiving compliments can also make me feel slightly awkward. When given a compliment, I will always (well, almost always) reply with “Thank you”, but there are times when I don’t take them very well. After saying thank you, I don’t know how to take the conversation further, so I either don’t carry on the conversation effectively or I just walk away.
While travelling on the tube one day, I smiled at a guy I was interested in and he smiled back. It turned into a ridiculous situation of back and forth smiling, with awkward shuffling in our chairs, until he finally spoke. The words to come out of his mouth were, “I like your jeans”. I was completely thrown by the comment, so instead of saying thank you I responded with attitude, “Is that what you’re looking at, my jeans”. He nodded and smiled, so I just said okay and put my earphones back in my ears. The conversation ended there, but it could have gone further if I’d just thought of something else to say in return and not shut down. However, I was confused by the compliment given to me and I had no idea about what to say in return, ruining the interaction with a guy I was never to see again.
More recently, another individual smiled at me and I smiled back, I looked again and they smiled, so I smiled back. Seeing them sitting on their own, I went over and spoke to them. They said they were cool, he asked my name, he told me his name, we shook hands, I said it was nice to meet him, and then he said “You’re really cute”. I was not expecting this to come out of his mouth, so I said “Thank you”, smiled and then turned around and walked away to find my girls. After having someone tell you that you’re “really cute”, I really did not know how to the carry on the conversation and I felt slightly awkward. Yet on this occasion, I had the opportunity to redeem myself, as I saw him later in the day and started a conversation that actually went well. I was also able to speak to him at other times throughout the week, meaning that I had not completely ruined things by quickly walking away without saying anything.
I sometimes find interactions difficult and there are times when I respond in a weird way, a bad way or the wrong way, but this is just one of the quirks that makes me who I am. Hopefully people, especially guys, will be able to see past this and take the time to get to know me. Then they’ll see that I can really hold a conversation…