Socially Awkward Is Just a Nice Word for Incompetent

Socially Awkward Is Just a Nice Word for Incompetent

I’m socially anxious and therefore socially awkward by default. But when I’m feeling low, awkward doesn’t come anywhere close to adequately describing my social interactions. Totally incompetent is a much more fitting expression here.

Today it’s been one of these days. I thought a trip to the supermarket would cheer me up—because of Oreos. I always reward myself with Oreos when venturing out to get groceries. I thought wrong though. If anything, my outing made me even more depressed.

I attempted to reply to random people who tried to communicate with me, but it was pathetic. A Tesco employee nearly ran me over with her manipulation trolley because I wasn’t looking. She said, Sorry. Guess what I said. I said, Thank you. Thank you for what exactly?

In the supermarket

The cashier checked in my Oreos and asked the usual, Cash or card? No-brainer, right? Well, not really because I said, Yes. Yes to which? Duh. Wordlessly, I waved my card. The cashier got it. She even bagged my shopping, which is not a standard practice here.

I was so moved by her kind act that I was on the verge of tears. Why? Dunno. Probably tears of gratitude. Or tears of frustration. I wanted to say something—here my previous thank you would have been apparently appropriate—but I could think of nothing, so I grabbed my groceries and ran.

39 thoughts on “Socially Awkward Is Just a Nice Word for Incompetent

  1. Thank you for introducing social incompetence to my lexicon. I think I’m generally just socially awkward but there are definitely times when my anxiety kicks in to such a degree that I become utterly socially incompetent (now that I have the vocabulary to diagnose my state). I’m infamous for my conversation starter at a party on the subject of necrophilia. Yup. Pretty bad.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Necrophilia?! Okay, you win. I thought my favourite subject of suicide was awkward, but it’s not that bad after all.. You can imagine that I turned into a social butterfly at the psychiatric ward, where my favourite topic was a perfectly acceptable ice breaker.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t do small talk well so when a man introduced himself as a pathologist it’s – unfortunately – just where my mind went as I wondered if he had insight into why that was a thing. There’s actually no way to explain it that makes it better. My favourite ice breaker is actually about cannibalism. It actually works.


  2. You aren’t alone in experiencing social anxiety….I have it too, but I know where mine has sprung from, at least it wasn’t helped in adulthood by aggressive partners…


  3. I have read articles about saying, ‘thank you.’ We say it for most everything. Along with ‘sorry.’ So I figure we both apologize and are pleased at the same time. So weird. Pass the Oreos, Mara.


  4. I’m not so much socially incompetent as socially unaware. I live life inside my head a lot of the time. A bit of a dreamer, I guess… or maybe just middle aged and hormonal and forgetful. Any way you look at it, I’m a mess. But I do like Oreos. So there is that… xx MH

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They aren’t sold here either. Eye contact says you are genuinely interested in what the other person is saying. I love making small talk with total strangers or others…


  5. I always wondered how certain words come out of our mouths more quickly than what we (socially) should actually say… weird…
    Sometimes, it can be fun, though, depending on the situation…
    Enjoy the Oreos. Everything happens for a reason and today the reason was the Oreos. 😉


  6. Your depiction of social incompetence is far too familiar for comfort…

    I am guilty of all of this and more. Throw in a propensity to knock things over, walk into people and animals (how many times have I gotten tangled up in leashes…), fall down completely, misunderstand extremely basic commands and questions to the point of sheer stupidity, and suddenly spout bizarre, unsettling and creepy things in response to “compliments”, and you have my complete social profile. I tend to bumble in the way, as well- to the point of spoiling major events. Let us just say that my brief career as an event-covering, fast-slinging, super-photographer was over before it had hardly begun, as a result. At least I do not get bowled over by doors I failed to notice, anymore…there is that.

    I could REALLY relate to your reaction of flailing muteness at the end- a standard for me. The most basic of vocabulary fails me and all I can do is gesticulate, blankly stare, run away, or glare like a serial killer as I try to hunt down the word in the gauze of my mind- which must look rather aggressive. That’s not so bad. It scares people away. This is always a good thing.

    Happy munching,



    1. Far too familiar for comfort sums it up just right. I’m aware that many people have the same feelings but it doesn’t really alleviate the pain of my awkwardness. I walk into walls, I bump into people, I never know what to answer to a simple question… Just as you describe it. Fortunately, there are Oreos.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I fear I went off down a rabbit-tunnel of miserable over-sharing and mindless babbling, there, my apologies. I was painfully reminded of my most recent, and far too public, gaff that even made it into the local newspaper…(sigh) my delight of a sadist, I mean supervisor (always get those two pesky “s” words confused, no idea why…), found this to be an enormous source of great guffawing entertainment- I am still trying to convince myself (weakly) that I will not be this sorely incompetent in EVERY future job. (Bone-rattling, mirthless laughter ensues.)

        Anyway, here is what I do to get through the “Fog” when I am in more manageable situations, like in a grocery store- I am sure this is probably more pointless rambling, again, on my part…but here goes:

        I lapse into character. I discovered this approach in early childhood and still use it today (which I realise makes me sound a little insane- but let me assure you, I am far more than a “little” insane, so…pressing on). I will even use props (why am I admitting to this?) to complete the illusion to myself on particularly bad Fog days. Have you ever tried this? I dare not go into detail, I sound ridiculous enough as it is just suggesting this method (but it strangely works rather well for me in many situations).

        My mp3 player is another huge asset- it is light, small and has a very long charge time (so I can ignore people for days and days on end), being its main advantage over a Smart-Arse (phone)- I listen to true crime-, tech-, nature-, and literature-related documentaries, filmmaker and authour interviews, depressing world news stories, etc. Takes me right out of the unpleasant nuisance of having to interact with fellow humans- until they ask me what I’m listening to…

        Was there any help in this? I doubt it. At least you have your cookies, yes, there IS that.

        My thing is tea, very strong tea, which a chum sends to me from the UK every couple months. The tea here is absolute rubbish. So it goes.




        1. Please feel free to ramble on! It’s delightful to listen to someone else rambling for a change rather than just myself.

          You naturally piqued my curiosity as to what incident got you in the news, but I don’t want to add salt to the wound you incurred…

          Playing a role is great when with people and I attempt this strategy too. With varied success. People who approach other people who are listening to things are just rude. Earbuds mean Do not disturb. Clearly.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. 100% with you on all of these interactions. Let me just share this: Yesterday, FOR LITERALLY NO REASON, I was going to the (single occupancy) bathroom on my office floor. And walked right into the men’s. Then I stood there, like “wait. why is everything reversed? oh. there’s a urinal. that’s weird” before being like OH MY GOD and swivel-fleeing. I think it took a solid 3 seconds for me to work that one out. But thank the old gods and the new that one of my male coworkers wasn’t in there.


    1. Am I evil for laughing at your story? I guess I am, I’m not laughing at you though but at myself really because it’s so relatable! I’ve done this a few times myself. One time I worked myself all up because I couldn’t find any toilets with doors and I was surrounded by urinals. Then I got kicked out by a random guy who came there to pee. shrug Shit happens.

      Liked by 1 person

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