I have it down to a fine art, being socially awkward.
Mostly I cover this side with the role of Friendly Person. I'm sure some of you know this role. You change your face, your voice, even what you might talk about: you are Friendly.
This doesn't mean making new friends, it's just a way to get by, especially if small talk is involved.
I am a temporary Queen of Small Talk. My favourite is the weather because I like talking about the weather anyway. And if I also like the person wanting to talk small, I slot in other little subjects good for tiny chats.
Chitter-chatter when I am feeling on top of things is fine. I can do it, the pretence lasts long enough for me to be a Friendly Person. And then...
The times when the Friendly role won't fit. It's like waking up and being two clothes sizes bigger overnight. I get up, do what I always do, and it won't fit. The small talk that worked yesterday doesn't work today.
The words I normally use, sentences well-worked and easy, they come out all wrong. I can hear them, the tone, the muffled feeling of not having it quite right. And my smile, it doesn't work either. I can tell my face is doing something else, though I have no idea what.
Oh for the ability to just be socially apt for a couple of minutes at a time! But no, it isn't that easy. Those days when socially awkward will not be hidden, mistakes happen.
Easy conversations are suddenly hard. As my phrases fall apart, so the conversation wavers like a heat haze. I am in the middle of it, trying to make it stay still, watching the other person to see if they notice I'm doing it wrong (I do recognise this behaviour makes me no less awkward).
Invariably I will say something kind of stupid - not fully stupid, just stupid enough to make me cringe. And then I'll try to cover it up , which of course is like putting make up on a pig.
Good grief, why do I bother?!
Well, mainly because I have to talk to people a lot for my work and it's best to come across as nice and friendly. And usually it's fine and social and I don't mind. Then on the days I do mind and it isn't social, it's awkward because I am awkward. The whole thing becomes awkward.
One lucky aspect is that my work means seeing lots of people in small-ish time slots so if I show myself up it is over quite quickly and I can move on to the next person - and do it all again. Though I might have to cringe at myself every single time, other people only have to suffer it the once.
So the next time I see them I am hopefully back to 'normal', with no weird smile that was only half-born and no stupid comments either. Back to desperately covering up the fact I am totally, irredeemably, socially awkward.
Bliss for those times when I meet someone worse than myself! The empathy is palpable and so is my relief that, for a small-ish amount of time, I don't have to worry over odd comments about the weather and wrong smiles.