“Ms. Skarin, you know you are odd, no I guess a better word for that would be unique.” The slender figure of the counselor in the chair across from mine shifted as she folded her arms gently.. She had dark brown hair and kind eyes.
I stared at her blankly as I often did when someone made a statement that I had to process. I would often think to myself later, Why didn’t I say what I meant? Why am I different? Why don’t I fit anywhere?
I idolized my dad when I was young. He was quiet like me. He had a muffled and monotone voice that I began to recognize in myself. We both had our own worlds that we carried around like turtles. People ask me what happened to the “quiet girl” who never talked. You ask me. I’ll tell you.
I started to realize my dad was different from other dads, as I became a teenager—even the ones that drank or smoked or cussed. He was always going to church or a prayer meeting. But, when it came to taking time off or hanging out, he didn’t do that well. He only went on a family vacation once in my life. I began to mention to people that I was like my dad and they would always say, “You’re nothing like him.” But, I knew I was in a personality kind of way, and I knew my mother was the opposite.
My mother’s personality traits were extraverted, but the negative of that was narcissism. She loved to make cutting and sarcastic remarks about people (My youngest sister emulated her in sarcasm.) She was fired not less than a few times as the head of the nursing homes she worked for. My mother finally landed a job at Western State Hospital in Washington where it was difficult to fire personnel. I was like my mother in some of the gene aspects such as thinning hair and bad teeth. She was very petite with red hair and triple A shoes and I was stocky with blonde hair and triple E shoes.
The negative part about my socially awkward personality was compliance. But, you can only fool me once. I’ve been told I have a high emotional intelligence, which means I know myself very well. Maybe this is why I don’t go along with the status quo easily. My personality changed as I matured and I began to see myself as—Who I am as a Child of God created in His image. This gives me a sense of security. What can be more secure than knowing that I belong to The Eternal One and that my security is based on what Jesus accomplished on this earth through his death and resurrection. I am constantly being changed into Who I Really Am from Who I Thought I Was based on What Other Flawed People thought of Me. I seek to emulate Jesus. He’s got the flaws covered.
I am hardwired with a socially awkward personality.
Heidi Mackenzie, PsyD, notes that (in Healthline):
“People who deal with social awkwardness may struggle with small talk, but they’re often great at diving deep into topics they’re passionate about.”
Ty Tashiro, PhD, who also has a socially awkward personality, is quick to add:
“Awkward people shouldn’t feel compelled to change. Kind people don’t look down on awkward people. …awkward people can be interesting, bright, and motivated, and they can be loyal friends.”
To explain how awkward people see things a little differently, Tashiro says,
“Most people see their social world in the center part of the stage. But awkward people see their social interactions a little left of center.
“So while that does mean awkward people will miss some things, they also see other things with more clarity.”
I tried to join as many groups as I could over the years. I began to notice that I wasn’t making eye contact. I started to watch how people had a back and forth conversation, like a game of pingpong. I would try to jump in a conversation but my words hit a wall and bounced off the table and rolled away. I didn’t get any of their small talk so I would blurt out whatever was on my mind. The more social cues I picked up on the better I got, but, I also have accepted that I won’t be who they want me to be. Kind people get me.
Two quotes from the audience after a speech Ty gave made me say, YES!
“Whenever I speak, the conversation ends.”
“I’m good at talking when I have things to say.”
For quite a few years while living in the State of Washington alone—I would hear these words as they played over and over—with a jump skip—like a square peg in a round hole—friiiip—like a square peg…I am finally free of those words as I have fully accepted that I am unique and exactly as I was created to be. Not like my mother or father but like a child of my Creator—accepted, signed, sealed and forever—I belong.