If you recognize these 7 signs, you may be a socially awkward adult

Do you ever walk into a room and immediately feel like a fish out of water? Like, no matter what you do, you just can’t shake that nagging sense that you’re the odd one out? 

Well, welcome to the socially awkward club! (I’m another proud member.)

Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight: Being socially awkward is NOT a bad thing. In fact, it’s what makes you unique and, dare we say, endearing. 

But hey, recognizing it is the first step towards understanding yourself better.

Let’s have a look at the 7 signs that you may be a socially awkward adult. 

1) The elevator dilemma

There I was, standing in the elevator, enjoying my little cocoon of personal space when—ding—the door opens, and in walks someone.

My mind raced: Do I greet them? Should I smile? Wait, is pulling out my phone too rude? 

A socially confident person would feel like it’s no big deal, but to a socially awkward adult, it can be a mini nightmare. 

One time, I chose to say ‘hi’ but my voice cracked. The other person smiled politely, but I could sense they were trying not to laugh. Another time, I pretended to be engrossed in my phone, but then I accidentally opened a video with the volume way up. Talk about awkward.

These small moments can really put you on the spot because it forces you to be in a very tight space with someone you don’t know.

You’re not sure how to act, and that uncertainty can make the situation way more uncomfortable than it needs to be.

Thank goodness it usually lasts just a few floors!

2) Overthinking… everything

The mental gymnastics of overthinking, a sport I’ve unfortunately become an expert in — I practically deserve a medal. 

Picture this: A friend asks me to hang out, and I reply that I’m sorry but can’t for whatever reason. They text me back “Okay”.  

And suddenly I’m plunged into an analytical rabbit hole. Did they misunderstand my text? Why didn’t they add an emoji? Are they mad at me?

Once, I noticed a coworker raise an eyebrow during a meeting when I spoke. For the rest of the day, I dissected that subtle facial twitch. Did I say something wrong? Was my idea that outrageous? 

I finally ended up asking him… and turned out, he was just trying to stifle a sneeze.

The urge to dissect every little detail is like second nature when you’re socially awkward. While it can make you incredibly observant, it’s a double-edged sword. 

On one hand, you’re in tune with subtle cues. On the other, you’re reading a novel in a sentence that’s often not even there, putting yourself through unnecessary stress.

3) You’re the master of awkward silences

You know those moments in a conversation where the chatter flows smoothly, like a river during springtime? 

Yeah, for me those are often followed by a drought — a sudden, awkward silence that stretches on forever. The conversation is going great, and then, out of nowhere, it’s like my mind just blanks out. 

I scramble internally, but it’s like the wheel is spinning and not catching on anything.

I remember once having dinner with an old friend, and we were catching up after years. Between reminiscing about college days and discussing our jobs, there was a pause. A looong pause. 

My eyes darted around the restaurant, taking in the decor, the other diners — trying to think of something, anything interesting to add. Yet my mind offered me nothing.

Social awkwardness makes us hyper-aware of them and feel compelled to fill them. But remember, gaps in conversation are normal — and the other person could say something too. It’s not all on you. 

4) You’ve perfected the fake laugh

The fake laugh is my go-to move in any social setting where humor flies over my head. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in a group where someone cracks a joke, and everyone starts laughing.

I look around, bewildered, still processing the punchline — or lack thereof.

Rather than admit I don’t understand and highlight my ignorance, I unleash my carefully crafted fake laugh — and pray nobody would ask me to explain it later. 

It’s a skill, really, honed over years of social misfires and awkward gatherings.

On one hand, it’s a survival tactic, a way to navigate social mazes without drawing attention to our discomfort. On the other, it’s a mask that prevents authentic interaction.

But hey, give yourself some credit. Navigating social situations isn’t always easy, and if a fake laugh is your safety net, that’s okay. 

Just remember that your real laugh — your real self — is something that people will appreciate, even if it takes a little time for you to let it show.

5) Public speaking? Nope!

Public speaking takes me right back to high school, where presentations were the bane of my existence. 

I remember one time in English class, we were asked to present our thoughts on a novel we’d read. Simple enough, right? Not for me. 

I thought I would do fine enough in my head, but standing in front of the class I felt so awkward, I didn’t know what to do with my hands, and I felt like every kid in the class was silently making fun of me.

We may think we automatically have to be composed and articulate, just like the kids in the movies are.

Being socially awkward can make that feel impossible when even the thought of public speaking can make your stomach do somersaults

But behind that movie, there were hours of rehearsal to get it just right — and it’s just like that in real life too. You can always get better with practice, no matter how awkward you feel. 

6) You’ve been called “too intense”

As a socially awkward adult, you probably find it difficult to make new friends — but at the same time, you still crave them. This can lead to you coming across as “too intense”. 

I remember one time, I met someone who had the same favorite author as me. I was over the moon — finally, a kindred spirit! 

Barely five minutes into our first-ever conversation, I found myself diving deep into the hidden themes of the book, quoting lines, and speculating about the author’s next masterpiece. I could see the enthusiasm wane from their eyes as I rambled on, unaware of my intensity.

“I’ve never met someone who thinks so deeply about this book,” they said cautiously, a polite way of signaling that I’d probably crossed a line. 

My heart sank. I’d gotten so excited about finally finding someone who shared my interests that I steamrolled the conversation right past small talk into the deep end. 

When you’re yearning for connection, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is ready to jump from “Hi, nice to meet you” to “Let’s ponder the meaning of life,” all in one breath. 

But don’t worry, your enthusiasm for deep conversations is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a part of you that will eventually help you find your tribe.

7) Your circle is small but strong

For many, a wide circle of friends is the epitome of social success. But for you, having just a few close friends feels right

In fact, you can probably count them on one hand, and you wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I sometimes found myself wishing I could be the popular girl with her phone blowing up with invites to hang out all the time.

But then I realized, I really don’t have the mental capacity to nurture so many friendships at the same time. And, I would much rather get to know one person on a deep level than have 10 friends I only know superficially.

These are the people who have seen your awkwardness and not only accept it but embrace it. 

You can relax knowing that even if you feel you’ve committed a social faux pas, your friends won’t make a big deal of it.

They’re your sanctuary from the awkwardness of the outside world, proving that quality truly does beat quantity.

So, what now?

If you found yourself nodding along to these 7 signs, then congratulations — you’re officially a member of the socially awkward tribe! 

But let’s get something straight: being socially awkward is far from a weakness. In a world striving for perfection, your awkwardness makes you refreshingly human.

Embrace everything about you as part of your unique charm. 

You might stumble in conversations or prefer the company of a select few, but these quirks contribute to your individuality. They make you relatable, approachable, and most importantly, they make you, you. 

So, don’t aim to erase your awkwardness; instead, channel it into understanding yourself better and building meaningful relationships. 

Because guess what? You’re pretty awesome just the way you are.

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Hack Spirit! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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