I am an introvert which already makes any social situation difficult for me to overcome. Growing older you’d think I’d become wiser and prepare myself ahead of time to avoid such situations where I just put myself in an endless cyclone of awkward situations right? I thought so too. I stand in the mirror and practice what I’m going to say before meeting with an author. How I’ll ask them to sign my book and maybe any questions I might have if I feel so moved to keep talking. Writing things down so I’m not so much as making conversation but reading my thoughts. All this preparation and what happens?I loose my ability to speak. Every time. This past residency at my MFA program was filled with awkward moments. The first one taking place in an elevator. Already I’m in a tight space but at least I’m alone, until the founder of the MFA program stepped inside. She’s very kind and gives off a heartwarming aura which means she’s bound to say something before either of reaches our floor. She asks me how I’m enjoying the program. An easy enough question. How do I respond? I made a noise that sounded something between a burp, a moan and a growl. Yep, that’s how I’m enjoying the program. When I opened my mouth to try and give a human response rather than some guttural animal noise, the doors opened and she wished me luck. Face palm. Unfortunately, she also saw me do that and did the polite, lighthearted laugh as she walked down the hall. Probably should have waited for the elevator doors to close. I don’t know why I can’t pull it together when it comes to meeting authors. Asking them to sign a copy of their book for me should be easy enough? Yet, without a doubt I do something or say something to draw a laugh or make them glance to the side. The worst incident happened during this same residency after getting over the emotional shock that I managed to make a completely normal situation awkward with the founder of the program. I enjoyed one author’s reading, his voice being one of those deep, slow, southern accents that just lulls me and makes every muscle in my body relax. Like Morgan Freeman but slower and add more of a southern twang. I had to buy one of his books and get him to sign it! But every time I tried to walk up to him, say something to him, I squeaked. When nervous or excited I am prone to squeaking so, as you can imagine, I could not let my first impression be that of a little black girl squeaking while holding a copy of the author’s book in front of him. I told my workshop leader my dilemma and she alerted me to the fact that he would be leaving in the next hour! So like the sane person I am, I stood in front of the room he was holding his workshop in, practicing what I was going to say. So yeah, I stood in the hallway talking to myself. He comes out and I grab his attention with an ever so confident “UM” followed by a graceful shoving of his book between us. He laughs and says that my workshop leader told him that I would come around asking for him to sign my book which makes me want to die. I’m incapable of asking for things by myself, conversations about my awkward behavior have been circulating through the faculty all leading to this moment. Then I squeaked. I tried to hold in but instead of saying “thank you” I squeaked. We parted awkwardly. I kicked the ground and tripped awkwardly. And I sighed because I’m so awkward! Then last week I was having a phone call with my current mentor and told her that I managed to get said author to sign one of his books for me. She laughed and said she heard about that situation and I died. Fell onto my living room floor and drowned in my own embarrassment. Awkward.

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