Editor’s note: Ask Lanie is the Lightning Rod‘s advice column. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your letters.
November 2, 2015 by Danielle Morrone
Calcium Neodymium Yttrium’s question:
I am an extroverted person, and have no fear of starting a conversation with strangers or making a new friend. But many people I’m around in school react as if I’m a weirdo- is that an upstate NY thing? If I talk to someone or make a joke, shouldn’t they respond? Do they not want to carry a conversation at all? If they don’t pointedly engage does that mean I should just shut up and not talk anymore? No one seems to want to participate in friendly humor. What’s the deal with this awkwardness? Real Name (Optional): Candy
First off, it’s not just a Upstate New York thing. This weird, awkwardness that follows high school extroverts can be seen everywhere. Now, speaking from the opposite end of the spectrum as an introvert, I can say that if they don’t actively engage in conversation with you, that doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention, or that you should just walk away. A lot of people like to think about what you’re talking about; they enjoy hearing you talk and seeing your passion.
Also, keep in mind that they might not really know much about the topic you’re referencing. They might not get the joke that your telling, so be mindful of that and try to share with them in a way that allows them to understand. I remember countless situations where I was talking to somebody and had no idea what they were referencing. Don’t let this be a dealbreaker for you though, because it’s good to have friends that know more about certain things,and that you know more about than them. I don’t think you want to be around people that have the exact same interests as you anyway; that would make life pretty boring.
Don’t assume that if they aren’t responding they aren’t listening. Maybe what you’re saying is interesting for them and they’re just holding it in. And don’t ever think that you should just walk away. If you have something to say, then say it. If what you’re saying matters to you then it’s important enough to be said out loud. The lack of active engagement does not diminish the importance of what you’re saying. My final note, keep in mind that a lot of people are shy. It can be uncomfortable for them to engage in a conversation or make new friends, and the fact that you can do that with such ease may intimidate them. What they need from you isn’t someone who can jump into a conversation and be super bubbly, what they need is someone who can guide them and make them comfortable in social situations. I recommend taking the time to help those people, because sometimes they can be the best of friends. More importantly, sometimes you can be the best friend that they ever had. Don’t shy away from being an extrovert, and help bring those that are introverts out a little bit.