sexta-feira, 12 de outubro de 2012

A post about penguins

Socially awkward penguin in natural habitat

In a world where social awkwardness and speech restraint are a rule among the ordinary folks (us) in everyday situations, it's not really a surprise to conclude that oh my god, how weird we all are. What is it about these politicians and celebrities who always seem to know the right thing to say? The exact thing to say - yes, that spot-on comment that instantly turns a casual conversation into something hilarious, highly interesting, or very, very clever. Why does it work for them and not us? What's lacking in us? What blocks us? Or even - how are they superior?

I only wish I knew. If I did, believe me, I wouldn't tell ya. I would be there, enjoying the marvels of being extroverted and fierce and oh so cool, making friends in every queue and boasting my social skills in your face. Gladly, for all of us, I am no such thing. I am incredibly awkward, and the only thing that makes me feel better is knowing that you are too.

Why are we like this, I ask again. Why is it so hard to talk to people we don't know? How do we even befriend anyone, for instance, since we never seem to know what to say? How do we calculate how much we can say to someone we've just met? What's allowed and what's not? Which is an intimate question - and therefore to be avoided - and which is okay to ask? How do we greet? How long do we say goodbye? And yes, the latter is important and extremely relevant, have you ever realised that we take, like, minutes to perform the ancient and long ritual of parting?

You are there, you know, talking, when you suddenly feel the urge to leave. ASAP. So what do you do?  You raise your watch and and exclaim, "Oh, look at the time!". Because, you know, you are always late. You really want to keep talking to that person, because they are always very interesting, but time isn't allowing. You must be somewhere else. Not here. 

And you say that aloud. In that condescending tone. You apologise, solemnly polite, in a flattering manner, praising all that person's qualities, and how do you always want to be by their side, but can't. And very reluctantly, you say goodbye. They also say goodbye. You say you'll keep in touch. They say it was nice talking to you again. You say see ya. They send lots of kisses to your granny. You say goodbye again. They say goodbye. You turn to your back and start walking away, walking away. You realise, surprised, that both of you are following the same direction. You joke about that, the spirited person you are. You feel like dreading dangerous waters. God, what do I do. You panic. They keep walking by your side. You turn to a corner you don't actually know where it leads. You actually don't know where you are anymore. But it's okay, because you are oh so relieved it doesn't matter.

See? People dance around each other and the steps are so stupidly complicated and well-rehearsed. We all know these tricks but no one taught us that. It's not in a book, although it should be. Life happened and we happened to learn how to act, end of story.

I'm kind of okay with that. I understand. It's awfully necessary.

But today there I was in the lift, praying for no one to call it too while I was still there. You know the feeling. You also think lifts are supposed to make one trip at time - they're not supposed to catch anyone else in the middle of the way. Only you. Alone. Because it means you won't be found in any embarrassing situation with strangers. You won't be locked in a box with someone you don't know - neither want to know. 

And you won't be found staring at your phone, moving slightly to your sides, typing to your imaginary friend, trying to be casual about the whole thing. You know you are tense. The lift exhales tension and it's very heavy. You already said "good morning", and you are now planning what to say when you leave. You can't just leave. You need to say something otherwise it will sound rude. But the problem is - you already said good morning. You can't say that again. What will I say, you ask the clever part of your brain. It instantly replies: bye. 

But sometimes, you just know you can't say bye. There are situations and situations. Especially if the trip was long and you already muttered it was "bloody cold". So you panic. And you end up by saying bye, leaving quickly to catch whatever transport it is you're supposed to get.

Life's funny.

The funniest thing is - it's universal. There are universal signs of affliction, such as there are for happiness and boredom and "leave me alone, jerk". How did we all learn that? How are we so alike and yet so different? How? Why?

See, even funnier.

I wish I were cool and all of that, but now I realised we all deep down are insecure about ourselves. Even , you know, Obama. And he showed that recently, didn't he? I mean, the man must have lots of people working for him and telling him the best way to proceed in these stressful moments of his life, and of course, a hell of a high-quality education so he's almost never caught out of guard, but, hey, he's still only human.

A perturbed, confused, flawed human, like you and I. Well, I hope he is, anyway.

I've been thinking too much, researching even more and analysing a lot the the diversity of human façades and the way they vary from person to person and country to country. I'm paranoid about it.

The British always complain about this unfortunate trait of themselves - social awkwardness - but it is not exclusive. Let me tell you the conclusion I've got from my thorough research - we're all fucking weirdos. And that's it.

More of Socially Awkward Penguin Meme here.

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