Please Don’t Take Offence… I’m Just a Little Weird.


We all have those days when we just don’t feel like talking to other people. It’s not that we don’t like them… It’s just that the particular day you’re having is what you would define as an “off day”. Perhaps you’re bummed out by an unpleasant mark or you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Perhaps conversations with others have never come easy to you, simply because you’re shy or you don’t know how to carry a conversation and respond to social cues. Or, you avoid talking to others in any way possible, in which case, I’m afraid to say, you’re a socially awkward person. Take it from someone—yeah, me—who is just now starting to explore what it means to have dynamic and meaningful discussions for the first time as a young adult. Yes, many of my attempts at conversation come across as forced and uncoordinated, but they reflect the kind of person I’ve been for most of my life.

I’ve always struggled to make conversation with others; it’s been a constant struggle of mine ever since I outgrew my overconfident personality in grade school. That doesn’t mean I’m rude or that I dislike other people—I’m just a little unsure about how to respond and act around others in social settings. This tendency of mine to shy away from talking to others has led me to live a quiet lifestyle: I read a lot of books, watch a lot of YouTube, I don’t attend very many parties or social gatherings and I rarely use social media. Does that mean I’m weird? Well… Maybe a little, but by no means am I a rude or inconsiderate person. I often go out of my way to accommodate others, even if they choose not to acknowledge it. It’s just the way that I am: I’m an introvert who makes subtle attempts at being extroverted. They may not always have the desired effect, but they are just that: attempts to finally put myself out there.

If these qualities are reflective of you as well, socially awkward weirdoes unite! But seriously, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Try to outgrow your necessity to avoid conversations, and instead find some other way to interact meaningfully with others. At our core, we all have the desire to get along with everyone. Sometimes that gets lost in translation, or by an apparent inability to communicate effectively.

To those that love to talk, please don’t take offence. We socially awkward students just take time to come out of our shells. Please don’t confuse our reluctance to share information with abrasiveness—we want to get to know you, but we might not know how to do so effectively. We all have ideas that are worthy of being shared. Just remember to be patient and to give others a chance, because there is surely some social context in which we all feel a little weird.

Social interaction, Our Long Lost Friend



By myself, as usual.

I spot an available Mac in the Mac lab in IB.

I slide into a chair and fire up the computer, tea in hand, iPhone tangled in wires, earphones rested in ears.

I click on Microsoft Word.

I see the girl to my right lean towards me and whisper:

“Can you watch my bag?”

What do I say?

  1. NAH.
  2. *tight head nod, still staring at screen*
  3. *look over and smile* Of course!

Ten points if you guessed the second one.

Ah, the day-to-day struggle of a UTM student. Watching other people’s things, participating in class, taking public transit, being a group member—a series of social interactions. I don’t know about you, but as the years have passed and I’ve developed into an average third-year UTMer, I have become less and less inclined to interact with people even though my day is full of potential interactions.

Imagine yourself as a first-year student. You just got out of high school, super-involved, super-excited. You hop off the bus; you thank the bus driver. You walk into lecture; you smile at the prof and your peers. You take a seat; you try and make conversation with the people next to you. Someone asks you to watch their bag; you smile and say okay and wonder if your new best friend just asked you to watch their things. The possibilities! The people! Life!

Naiveté. Yes, I am blaming university for my decreasing social skills and general life excitement.

Personally, as the years have passed, I prefer to stick my earphones in my ears, keep my head down and text through the hallways, and grunt as opposed to talk. Often, I find that I don’t want to say things anymore, don’t want to meet people anymore. Is something wrong with me, or do the years of solo studying, music-listening, texting, reduced social events, and oversized classes have an isolating impact on the average UTMer?

I’m going to guess the latter. Haven’t you seen the posts on Spotted? You know, the ones about being sad and not having made any friends at UTM.

Let’s think back to my impromptu list of social interactions that we all have in an average day, and some more: passing your bus driver, sitting beside people in lecture, being a group member, buying food, coffee, or a book from a cashier. These interactions are what we make of them, and, personally, I haven’t made much.

I’m not going to advise you to join a club. I’m not even going to advise you to do a 180 and magically keep your head up in the hallways and smile at everyone.

I think that it’s more important to make the few social interactions that you are presented with worthwhile. Think of them as practicing your social skills in the little time you get to be social on campus, for the real world.

You know, the place with jobs and lives we all work for in our time here.

Can we make a pact to work on our social skills together? University should not be the land of retreating into our shells—these are supposed to be some of the best years of our lives.

So, the next time we get off the bus, let’s thank the bus driver. Let’s say “hi” to our cashiers, let’s put our hand up once in lecture, let’s smile at two people a day, let’s create quality small talk, let’s make eye contact with people we talk to, even the people who ask us to watch their things.

Together, we can get our social skills back, UTMers! This is not the end of our personalities.