Avoiding Awkward SituationsPartiesEliza Hurwitz

I celebrated my graduation party this past weekend. As a shy person, I tend to get nervous about big social gatherings, especially if I’m going to be the center of attention. Needless to say, I was feeling a little anxious about how the evening would pan out. Amazingly enough, however, the party was great with very few awkward encounters. I thought maybe I should share my tips for party success.

Find An Equally Awkward Person:

Talking to another awkward person can be comforting. So what if the conversation is forced and a little painful? So what if there are awkward silences or failed jokes? All that matters is that you and your awkward friend are in a safe space together, giving each other permission to be as awkward as you need to be. I suggest finding your awkward counterpart early in order to give you both ample time to get the worst of your awkwardness out of your systems before moving on to normal people.

That being said, beware of what I call “awkward clingers.” They cling to you because they seek solace in your shy demeanor and they empathize with that look of terror as you embark on conversations. They take joy in the beads of sweat dripping down your face. They are nice people, but trust me: they are too much to handle for one awkward person.

One time my parents were having their friends over for dinner and I was having a conversation with my mom’s friend, who is a textbook awkward clinger. I was telling her about the internship I was about to start. I told her repeatedly that I was excited, which would be no big deal except that she kept repeating that this must be exciting. This went on for far too long. “Oh, that’s exciting,” followed by my reply of, “Yeah, I’m excited” gets old fast. We both realized that we were trapped in an awkward conversation loop and one of the only ways out was to trail off. Eventually there was just a long pause and I knew I had to end it. But how? I saw some hummus from the corner of my eye and I knew it was my savior so I said, “Yeah! Ha, I’m gonna get some hummus. I’m excited.” I got out of it but it was pretty grueling and if I hadn’t seen the hummus, who knows? I might still be telling this woman how excited I am. To ensure this doesn’t happen to you, play matchmaker and try to pawn off an awkward clinger on another awkward clinger. Believe me, they’ll thank you for it.

Find A Friend in Food:

Just as I demonstrated in my “exciting” conversation, not only can food save you from a dying conversation, it can also be used as a conversation-starter. Food talks are always fun because they’re easy and to the point. Plus, if the food is right in front of you, it makes it extremely easy to know exactly what to say. It’s almost like having note cards, only they’re edible. Food can also stop awkward conversation dead in its tracks. If you’re really not in the mood to talk to someone, just stick something in your mouth and chew. Any food will do, but if you suddenly find yourself in a place without food in reaching distance, then just pick up a napkin, toothpick, bottle-cap – whatever you’re close to. Then you can either pretend to eat it or really go for it and stick it in your mouth. No conversations will be started with you then!

Make Yourself Feel Special:

Before the party, I recommend doing something that makes you feel even more beautiful and glamorous than you already are. For my graduation party, that meant shaving my whole leg. I’m talking both legs, not just the shin. This party was a big deal, so I went all out! I felt like a million bucks! A smooth million, that is.

Other suggestions include but are not limited to: doing your hair differently or wearing a special outfit, a new perfume or eye-catching accessory. Anything to ensure that you feel your best when it’s time to get your party on! You could also go to the extreme and make a huge change in your look, that way you can guarantee the topic of conversation. No need to have that awkward clinger style “exciting conversation” if you’re sporting a Mohawk, nose ring and/or a new set of gold teeth.

Find an Activity:

When I just stand around at parties, I forget what to do with my arms/hands. Should I just leave them dangling there? Do I hold them? Should I keep them still or move them? And what about my fingers? Why is everything so confusing? To put a stop to these questions, I make sure I’m partaking in some part of the party action. This could be as simple as holding a glass or two or waving at people or just randomly, though it could be as complicated as playing charades or dancing. Any activity at the party that gets you out of your head and gets you moving is fair game. Just make sure it’s appropriate for what is occurring at the party. You don’t want to be playing charades in a corner by yourself when you really should just be waving.


Finally, remember to let loose and have fun. After all, this is a party. And not just any party – it’s a party that you shaved your whole legs for, so make it worth the effort. Don’t put pressure on yourself, though, and remember: if you run into trouble, be sure you know where the hummus is.

Image via nesrineren.edublogs.org

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=38003769 Elisa McCauley

    Absolutely love your posts! Totally relate!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashley.berry1 Ashley Berry

    I swear you’re talking about my life.

    I laughed so hard about the charades in the corner thing that I was crying. The boyfriend looked at me like I’m crazy. He doesn’t get it. He’s not awkward like me…

  • http://www.facebook.com/thelonelytourist Jonna Isaac

    The friend in food is hilarious! I would go even further and say if the conversation is really unpleasant, you could feign choking, which is awesome two-fold: 1. you’re out of the conversation, 2. you have an awesome new topic, that probably everyone at the party will be familiar with— that time you almost choked at that party that was happening right now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/annielambert Annie Lambert

    So funny, and so true! I only shave my whole leg for special occasions. Otherwise, it’s such a waste.

    And that part about not standing in a corner playing charades by yourself? I think I laughed for about 5 minutes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hpclifford Hayley Clifford

    I feel ya on the socially awkward thing. My biggest thing that I can’t figure out at parties or just at small little get-togethers is if I’m on a “hugging level” with someone. If one of my good friends(who of course I’m on a hugging level with) is leaving at the same time as a casual acquaintance, do I hug the casual acquaintance too? If I don’t hug the person, I feel sort of like a cold person. But if I do, I will be wondering the rest of the night if I crossed too far over into their personal space.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528004179 Jane Murphy

    I love this article! I’m also awkward in social situations – pretty much any, but parties are the worst. So, thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1346316826 Katelin Turner

    I also shave my whole leg for special occasions. lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1281496995 Jessica Finney

    I’m going for the gold teeth at my next affair. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/rockinItalmajor Robyn Pennington

    Nothing is more terribly awkward when you literally have just put something into your mouth and someone asks you a question. Then you have this terrible pause while they just stare at you and you chew like a maniac and try not to choke. But overall, I agree that food can be a great distraction – just make sure that you take really small bites so you can eat quickly when the inevitable question comes up mid-bite. I really liked your article :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennylonussen Jenny Lonussen

    Great tips. Thanks from a fellow shy/awkward person :-)

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