Being Socially Awkward Doesn't Make You A Completely Flawed Person
This is a point I've made here and there across the site, but it's so important that I gave it its own article for extra emphasis. If you're shy, lonely, or have trouble understanding or talking to people those things can be very discouraging and frustrating and prevent you from getting what you want out of life. It's completely understandable that you'd want to get rid of those problems, and this site can help with that. However, at the same time, being socially awkward does not make you a thoroughly and fundamentally flawed person. It doesn't make you a "loser".
Many people are very hard on themselves. Whether they've consciously thought about it or not they believe being socially awkward is one of the worst things someone can be. They think if someone is that way it makes them all-around worthless as a person. It's not hard to see how they might come to think this way. Many awkward people grew up hearing hundreds of messages from their classmates, family, and society about how there was something wrong with them because they weren't super dynamic, outgoing, and "normal". As a kid it's easy to uncritically take these messages to heart.
Neither of those two ideas are true. First, being socially awkward isn't that bad. So someone clams up and can't think of what to say when they get nervous at a party? That's hardly comparable to being a child abuser or a con-artist who swindles senile widows out of their life savings. Social awkwardness of one flavor or another is pretty common, not some curse that only the rarest few are afflicted with.
Secondly, awkwardness isn't the single determinant of someone's worth. Maybe this example is slightly exaggerated, but imagine someone who does the following:
- They have a job as a Special Ed teacher.
- They volunteer at their local animal shelter.
- They donate to charity.
- They're a loving partner to their spouse.
- They're a good parent to their kids.
- They play in a local bar band and create music that other people enjoy.
- They're taking care of their sick father.
- They're a skilled triathlete and always go out of their way to help people who are new to sport.
- They're generally friendly and good-natured.
Is anyone going to say this person is useless because they're also shy and unassertive at times, and occasionally blurt out inappropriate things without thinking? Also, it's highly likely there are people who like and respect this person for their many good qualities, and who hardly see their handful of awkward traits as deal breakers.
Sure, being socially awkward can be an inconvenient weakness that many people would love to get past tomorrow if they could. We all have weaknesses though, and they don't define everything about who we are or what our value is. Of course, most people see their social skills as more emotionally charged and central to their identities than the fact that, say, they just can't seem to get the hang of those tricky spreadsheets at their job. However, just because it feels true that being awkward makes you extra worthless doesn't mean it actually is.
"Stop being so touchy feely. I know I'm a total loser."
At this point I realize some of the people who just read all of the above are feeling relieved to be told there's nothing wrong with them. I know there's also a sub-set of readers who see what I wrote as too sensitive and wishy washy. I think there are a few things motivating people who feel this way: For one, they've so bought into the message that they're a loser for being awkward that they react hostilely to anyone who says differently. More importantly, they have a tough love, drill sergeant mentality towards working on their issues. They're harsh on themselves, see self-acceptance as weak, and use the stick of not being a "pathetic loser" to push themselves to make changes.
Deep down they worry that if they were easier on themselves they'd lose all their motivation to get past their social problems. In my experience that won't happen. If you have a social weakness and it truly interferes with your life then you'll still want to change it. However, self-acceptance may cause you to drop goals you actually don't care about and are more tied into your insecurities.