This may come as a surprise to some people, but I can be a very awkward person. I’ve talked before, in this space, about being shy. Shyness is especially painful when you are also awkward.
I’m one of those rare people who don’t like to hug. I think my body language gives that away, but more often than not the signal is not picked up on. The moments before the hug are the most awkward. I ask myself, is it obvious I don’t want to do this? Now do I try to shake someone’s hand instead? Will I accidentally touch them somewhere I shouldn’t? I usually end up in some weird half handshake, half hug with my body twisted.
Sure, I could just hug everyone. But I’m awkward.
I used to hide the awkwardness with drinking, but that’s not an option anymore. So now I have to find other ways around it. This is particularly difficult for me in networking situations. It doesn’t make much sense. I’ve worked in this community for decades, but I still feel awkward at events, mingling and making small talk.
My modus operandi is to stand in one spot, or sit in my seat, and wave at people from a distance. I’m happy to talk to anyone who walks up to me, that somehow makes it easier than me trying to initiate the conversation.
I often wonder how this is perceived by the general public. Do people think I’m stuck up or snobby? There was this one instance at an Equality Florida Gala in Orlando a few years ago where an employee thought I was deliberately avoiding him and he said those around him were picking up on that. It wasn’t true. I’m just awkward and waved from afar.
I also find it hard to make friends. I know a lot of people through work, and I for some reason categorize work separately. However when it comes to me on a personal level, I tend to isolate myself for no reason. I’ve played on the same softball team for a while now, but I find myself only around them when the game is on. I’ll talk myself out of going out with the team by disqualifying myself for them. I don’t drink so why would they want me around. I’m a lot older than most of them.
This has made it difficult for me to make real, personal connections with people. I have my best friend who I care deeply for. She is probably the nicest person in the world and I assume she is loved by more people in this community than me — and rightly so. She’s kind of awesome.
I also have my husband. It amazes me everyday that he fell in love with me and married me. I should point out that the only reason he and I met is because he tracked me down at an event and made me hang out with him. He wouldn’t let my awkwardness make an excuse and walk away.
I’ve described this about him before, but falling in love with him was the first time I have ever felt a completely selfless kind of love. I am way more interested in him and his success than I am with my own. I can’t imagine there is much I wouldn’t do to ensure his happiness.
Before him, the idea of this kind of life was only in the movies and songs, a dream of mine that I had tried to force on the wrong people. Having him in my life is helping me be less awkward. It is helping me seek a deeper connection with those in my life.
I had the privilege of celebrating my brother’s 50th birthday this past week. My other two brothers, who live out of state, flew in for the occasion. It was great to be able to hang out with them and connect on a level we haven’t done for a very, very long time. We didn’t argue about politics, we just enjoyed each other’s company and relished the time we had together.
As I sat in my home trying to figure out what to write about for this issue, a man was being interviewed by Rachel Maddow. His family had been taken hostage in the recent Hamas terrorist attack on Israel. It was heartbreaking to hear the horror he was living in and I felt lucky to have the people in my life that I love.
I wish life was as easy as the words, “love conquers hate.” I wish it was easy to make happen. I encourage everyone to tone down the rhetoric of hate and find common ground. Make the world a better place.
We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.