1. Icebreaker Circles
Basically the point of these things is to go around one-by-one, and give the scoop on yourself, listing a few basic things, like, the junk that would be mentioned on a Wikipedia page about you. The funny thing is, if you don’t enjoy that ten seconds in the spotlight, this is a nightmare scenario. You wait in anticipation, dreading your turn as your mind races.
Oh, crap – what am I gonna say? My knees are shaking. My hands are so moist. Ew, I just said moist – did anybody hear that? No, dummy, these are thoughts, they can’t hear you… But what if they can? What if everyone here reads minds and they’re laughing hysterically to each other about how stupid your pants are, and the fact that you used the word moist. I’m on to you people; I know you can hear this, you bastards.
Then suddenly it’s my turn. The irony of the icebreaker is that I learned absolutely nothing about anyone, because I was too busy freaking the hell out. All I can recall is charismatic people speaking about their accolades and setting the bar higher than my moist fingertips can grip. I’ll shakily stutter out my name, city of birth and a hobby, then spend the next hour upset because I have hobbies that I like way more than the one I mentioned, and now these people think my life revolves around playing fantasy football.
Remember in Mean Girls when Regina tells Cady, “You’re like, really pretty,” and when Cady says “Thank you,” Regina’s like, “OH SO YOU AGREE THAT YOU’RE REALLY PRETTY???” That’s my fear. That by saying “thanks,” you might take it as me agreeing. And often we do agree with compliments, which we should. We should have confidence, and take these things in stride, but that’s an art I’ve yet to master. Say something nice to me and it typically goes something like this:
Compliment Giver: Hey, Chris – nice sweater.
Me: (nervously) Really? No, it’s actually terrible if you really look at it. See, there’s this hole in the armpit and like, it’s kind of hard to tell what color it even is. Are you green? Are you gray? Stupid f-cking sweater. AmIright?
3. Ordering Something That I Can’t Pronounce
Far too often, there’s an item on the menu that sounds delicious based on its description, but the dish’s name is some combination of letters that look like they have no business forming words together. The menu may as well be printed in Wingdings because I have no idea what it says, and now I’m going to order the cheeseburger. Stupid, I know, but I’ve changed my order countless times because I didn’t want to butcher the pronunciation of something. Even worse, when it’s something simple, I still rehearse it in my mind so I know my lines when the time comes.
This isn’t limited to things I can’t pronounce. If the title is something silly sounding, I’ll skip on that too… I’m looking at you, IHOP — with your Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity. WHY CAN’T YOU JUST CALL IT PANCAKES WITH WHIP CREAM ‘N FRUIT SH-T?! Now I’m going to order the Denver Omelet because that sounds respectable. Oh, you think that’s stupid? Well eggscuse me for not wanting to sound ridiculous.
(Seriously? I’m comfortable making bad puns to the world, but won’t ask a waiter for the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity — what is wrong with me?)
4. If People Can Hear What’s Playing In My Headphones
Is there anything wrong with a 24-year-old man listening to Big Girls Don’t Cry by Fergie? Is there everything wrong with a 24-year-old man listening to Big Girls Don’t Cry by Fergie? Unfortunately I don’t know. I don’t have these answers, and while I’ve considered bumping my jams and letting people judge my uncommon taste in music if they choose to, I’ve yet to do so. Every time I go to turn the volume up, my brain declines it. Somewhere in the medulla oblongata, a message is sent saying, “Hey! You don’t have self-assurance, what are you doing? Insufficient funds in the confidence bank, bro – get your finger off of that iPod.
5. Wearing A New Outfit
Okay, this can’t just be me – I know other people have to feel somewhat aware when they’ve got on new threads. It’s this outfits first appearance and if it’s not getting compliments, people must be thinking to themselves, “That there is an ugly combination of clothing.”
The funny thing is, even if the outfit did draw compliments, I’d be super uncomfortable (see #2). So basically, wearing new clothes is a lose-lose situation for the over-evaluating, self-conscious mind.
6. The Speed Of My Windshield Wipers In Comparison To Everyone Else’s Windshield Wipers
K, this one is preposterous, but so are the rest of ‘em, really. Methinks I’ll stop confessing my bizarre thought process now, seeing how being concerned with if the pace at which raindrops are swiped from your windshield is the popular one, probably comes off as a a lot of neurotic mixed with a little bit of crazy.