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Speaking of being uncomfortable, talking to people that I don't know very well always makes me feel a bit funny in the stomach and awkward. A phone call from an unknown number basically gives me heart palpitations. It's that serious.
It's not that I don't like meeting new people. Heck, I love making new friends and learning about new people's lives, it's just that I don't think that I'm very good at making conversation. I get nervous in anticipation of awkward pauses and so try to think of anything (anything) to make sure that there are no gaps in speech. I've had conversation with people I've just met about their pets (not too bad), their hopes and goals for the next five years (a bit heavy for a first meeting) and the colour of their toothbrush (weird!).
Let me tell you a story from about five years ago, when I was fifteen. (This is bad by the way, please don't judge me.) It was a Friday night and I was at a church dance. I can't quite remember where it was. Either Sheffield or Northampton. Not that the location is relevant to the story. There was about ten minutes of the dance left, and everyone knew what that meant. Two words. Slow dance. Uh oh. My worst nightmare - having to making conversation with either a stranger or someone relatively unknown while you awkwardly hold each and sway. Great. Normally I would have anticipated that the slow dance was approaching and rushed off to the bathroom, but for some reason on this night I didn't. So, some boy comes over to me and asks me to dance. Even worse than my inability to make conversation is my inability to say no. We're about a minute into some slow cheesy song and I've gotten past the introductory stuff that isn't too hard, but now my hands are sweating and I'm about to go into cardiac arrest. My brain is buzzing whilst I try to think of either something I can say or a question I can ask or a way I can out of this awful, teenage swaying situation. So what do I do? I suddenly stop dancing, grab my phone from my pocket and say "oh, my Dad is calling me, it must be important, he wouldn't call me in the middle of a dance otherwise." So I pretend to answer my phone and have an imaginary conversation with my Dad whilst I just walk away from this poor guy That's right, I just walk away. I don't even go back to apologise or offer some kind of explanation afterwards. I just leave him standing there whilst the song finishes. Even when it has finished and I'm stood in the comfort of a circle of girl friends and I see him walking toward me I reach for my phone again and launch into another imaginary conversation.
I'm a horrible person aren't I? I told you it was a bad story. I'm surprised (and grateful) that I haven't been cursed in all romantic endeavours since that awkward, awkward night.
Admittedly, as I'm getting older, I am the grand old age of 20 you know, I'm getting better at it. I'm learning that conversation doesn't have to only come from me and if there are awkward pauses, then that's ok. It's not the end of the world. Please make note of this though, if I'm talking to you and ask you either about your pets, five year plan or toothbrush, take pity on me please.