Dating Cheat Sheet

Express your distaste of a remark with a pointed question
instead of a side-eye and a string of profanity.
Be sympathetic. Be kind.
Remind yourself that he does not represent his entire gender.
Remind yourself that cracking unfunny jokes isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker.
(On second thought, it is.)
Administer physical affection as needed.
No, seriously. Lightly touch that arm.
Do it.
Do iiit.
Ugh, never mind. You’re a lost cause.
At least maintain eye contact.
Fuck, you’re just too tired to care.
Refrain from ranting about the white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy.
Refrain from disclosing all your baggage except the cute stuff like “I’m so awkward lol” and “I’m an introvert haha”
Refrain from letting slip that you’re a 25-year-old mess who doesn’t have her shit together and is not sure she ever will
Too late
On to the next one


I Am The Awkward Asshole

I’m an introvert. That means I prefer staying in rather than going out. It means I draw less energy from social settings and large groups of people and more from “me time” or hanging out with just one or two close friends. There are plenty of people who are introverts, who are just like me. Right?

Then why does it never really feel that way? In many social situations I find myself to be the odd one out. The one everyone gets concerned about, confused by/offended by, dismissive of. Why is she so quiet. Does she not like people? What’s wrong? What a bitch.

It’s nothing personal, I want to shout. I’m just tired. Of people. I know that sounds bad, but introversion tiredness, it’s a thing, I swear! I cannot deal with social interaction for prolonged periods of time, no matter how good the company is. Yet I can’t tell whether people ever get it. It just feels like they hate me because it seems like I hate them, then I just end up hating myself all the more for it. Then I start wondering if calling myself an introvert is just a way of justifying the fact that I’m actually just an awkward, misanthropic asshole.


There’s really just no good way of going about it. No matter how I try to articulate it, I sound like a horrible person. You’re my friend. You want to hang out. We plan to do X activity. We do X activity. But suddenly person Y comes into the picture. I didn’t anticipate this. Person Y wants to do Z activity. You agree. I agree, because you agree and person Y agrees and I don’t want to be an awkward asshole when in all honesty, I’ve filled my socializing quota for the day. As person Y/Z activity goes on and on and on with no end in sight, I become more and more withdrawn. Inside I’m crying for solitude, but I know I can’t say “I need to be alone!” because I’ll sound like an awkward asshole. But my silence starts attracting unwanted attention. You become worried. Person Y gets kind of worried. I have to force a smile, but no one’s buying it. The worry turns into annoyance that I’m being antisocial and rude. Too late, I am the awkward asshole.

What’s so exhausting about talking to people, you might wonder. SO MANY THINGS, when you’re an awkward asshole. There’s this social script you have to stick to. Maybe it’s all in my head, maybe I’m just too paranoid and anxious and mistrustful. But when I talk or listen, I’m gauging your reaction. Are you listening? Do you care? Did I say the right thing? What do you want from me? Are you judging me for this? What is your expectation of my responses? Am I putting on the right face? Why are you looking at me like that? What else am I supposed to say? Where is this conversation going? What question should I ask next, what remark should I say to steer this conversation away from trailing off into awkward and miserable silence? What’s the point of this conversation? Why are we talking?


It’s all very overwhelming, repetitive, tedious. The small talk is contrived–I have to say the things people might want to hear. If I say the things I want to say, I lose the game. I always lose eventually, if not quickly, but the goal is to postpone losing. But the game of socializing itself–is not a game I’m interested in playing, again and again and again.

Yet I have to, to appear less of an asshole. (And you know, to network and shit.) The forced nature of conversing at a party or get-together makes me want to vomit, crawl under a rock and die (probably in that order). Too many things happening. Social interaction overload. System is crashing. Must reboot in solitude. With strangers, I am like this from the get-go. With people I actually know and like, I gradually transform from annoyingly talkative to annoyingly reclusive. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone involved when I’m involved.

I don’t really like talking about this “problem” with other people, because it will alienate (and, as a matter of fact, HAS alienated) people. It’s confusing for people because I can be very hyperactive and loud and obnoxious. That is at the beginning of socializing, when my energy is at its peak. Then it’s all downhill from there. If I keep going, it’s because I’m focusing on doing something that doesn’t actually involve interacting with people, like singing or dancing. Or probably I’m forcing it. I should probably stop feigning happiness so much. I do everything in extremes, so people think I’m always happy and smiley. Not to say I’m always pretending, because I am happy some of the time, just not as much as people might think. I just put on the smile because that’s what people want. Sometimes my mouth actually hurts from forcing a smile so often in front of people. I was conditioned to do it, and it fucks me in the ass because when the tiredness kicks in and I do a worse and worse job of pretending until I can’t even bother pretending anymore, everyone notices immediately and goes omg what’s wrong Learkana are you ok?


Sometimes I am physically tired, but most of the time it’s a mental exhaustion. I start zoning out, drawing a blank, very much aware that I’m behaving like an antisocial dickwad but feeling too apathetic and miserable to care very much. There’s just something about human interaction that wears me out, I guess. Is that so hard to understand and be empathetic to?

Again, I don’t know if I can dismiss my unsocial behavior simply as introversion, when there are so many other factors to consider: I’m afraid of appearing superficial. I’m afraid of sounding stupid, among strangers and friends alike. I can’t comprehend the idea of talking to a stranger just to talk to them. And I can’t fathom why anyone on earth would want to talk to me just to talk to me–obviously I was their last resort, their backup plan,  in which case, screw them!

Then there’s the assumption that because I prefer to be alone some of the time, that I want to be alone all of the time, which is not true. Well if it’s not true, then why do you act like you want to be alone, you might ask. I’m not acting, I want to scream. This is who I am. I’m not a fucking social butterfly, I’m a weirdo loner caterpillar but weirdo loner caterpillars fucking need love, too, okay?! And the love we crave shouldn’t require us to break from our cocoons and fuck this metaphor doesn’t work because all caterpillars become butterflies so now you’re going to think that all introverts are stubborn little fucks who can actually become extroverts if they really wanted to okay goddamnit let me think of another one okay I’m not a butterfly, I’m a solitary bee and bees most definitely cannot become butterflies therefore this metaphor actually works but my thinking-out-loud tactic has probably totally convinced you that I am just a self-reinforced awkward asshole but whatever RESPECT MY BEE-NESS.

Anyway, the point is, my way of being has often made me feel guilty and ashamed, and whether or not it’s all just in my head and completely my fault, I’m tired of feeling this way. I am me, I’m not going to change all that much from the way I am, so I shouldn’t have to apologize for it because that’s just shitty, having to apologize for being you. And I know there are certain things you should apologize for, especially if you’re being a dickface, but is not wanting to hang out with people for hours on end the most terrible thing ever?

“You miss you,” my friend Nicole would say whenever I would try and describe my self-diagnosed introversion.

And maybe it’s just that simple. (In which case I become the queen of narcissism…but, like I said. It’s a lose-lose situation, and I guess I need to resign myself to that.) Or I guess start talking to people, who knows I may even come to enjoy it. LOL WUT AS IF

tl;dr I’m an introvert aka an awkward asshole aka a weirdo loner catepillar solitary bee wait what


Things I Find Awkward

  1. Working on the 12th floor of a building and having to ride the elevator allllllllllllll the way up in miserable silence with strangers
  2. Running into people I’ve just said goodbye to
  3. Passing by the same people over and over again because okay I was going to leave but then I realized I forgot something and now I have to go back and then leave again but then I realized I was going the wrong way to begin with so I have to pass by them again and it’s like ughhhhh why is my incompetency so glaringly obvious even to random passersby
  4. Recognizing an acquaintance from a distance who is walking from the opposite direction of me but pretending not to recognize them and waiting the appropriate amount of time until I can attempt to nonawkwardly and noncreepily acknowledge them at the precise moment we pass each other (give or take a few seconds)
  5. Recognizing an acquaintance from a distance who is walking from the opposite direction of me and one of us giving a sign of recognition WAY too early so there’s this agonizing stretch of silence as we both are forced to wait until we are within hearing distance of each other to make forced small talk which wouldn’t have been necessary if we had both followed our social cues to begin with
  6. Saying hi to someone who doesn’t see me
  7. Saying hi to someone I thought was saying hi to me but in fact they were saying it to the person(s) behind me, like why did I even think I deserved a friendly gesture of recognition, I’m such an idiot
  8. Meeting a sort-of friend and wondering whether I should hug them or not
  9. Meeting a date for the first time and wondering whether I should hug them or not
  10. Having to partake in saying affirmative things on a co-worker’s birthday even though I don’t really know them so I start worrying about what to say and also worrying about not knowing what to say when it comes time for so-and-so’s birthday year after year after year of still not knowing them and then confronting the very real possibility of having to make myself get to know people just so I can say informative friendly things on their birthdays oh god
  11.  Eye contact
  12. Wondering if I have a period stain and trying to figure out a way to discreetly check out my ass
  13. People I don’t particularly like appearing to like me for some reason
  14. Not being sure of whether someone likes me (platonically OR romantically)
  15. Small talk
  16. Not hearing what someone says the 3rd or 4th time they repeat it so just nodding and smiling like I heard
  17. Coming out of the bathroom and seeing that my date has been waiting right outside the door for me and it’s like ackk I just peed and now I’m seeing you
  18. Going on a date and establishing the payment procedure (it’s like ahhh is he going to insist on paying and am I going to have to insist on saying no and of course I don’t think he should be obligated to pay for me because I’m a girl screw chivalry/benevolent sexism but well he was the one who asked me out technically and I know this mothafucker has more money than me but if I asked you out well I wouldn’t want to pay for you tbh so let’s just pay separately but how do I bring that up without sounding like an asshole just that whole conversation is erghhughhhaghh)
  19. People on BART who get out of their seats way too fucking early and try to bump me aside when it’s like bitch I’m getting off at the same stop as you calm your ass down
  20. Crying in front of people/in public places and knowing it’s awkward but crying anyway cuz the feels
  21. Sexile
  22. When I’m trying to make a joke and end up sounding more aggressive or serious than I intended because I’m just that intense sometimes and everyone just looks at me weird
  23. Realizing that I no longer have someone as a Facebook friend and not being sure of whether I deleted them or they deleted me
  24. Mentioning to the barista of the coffee shop I go to regularly that I’m interested in watching this one movie, later finding out the barista watched it before I got a chance to, then realizing when I finally get around to watching it that the movie is ripe with freaky sexual stuff that will be absolutely uncomfortable small talk the next time he casually asks whether I’ve watched the “weird” movie I unintentionally recommended
  25. Being around strangers who are singing/rapping along to music only they can hear
  26. Getting caught singing/rapping along to music only I can hear
  27. Having to introduce myself to someone by shaking their hand when my hands are wet because I just got done washing them so they probably think I’m gross
  28. Farting around people who aren’t my immediate family
  29. Taking a shit in public restrooms (I just can’t)
  30. Knowing that the person in the stall next to me is taking a shit
  31. Friends talking about doing something I’m not invited to
  32. Finding myself talking about doing something around friends who weren’t invited (and I don’t think I have the jurisdiction to invite them)
  33. Finding myself talking about doing something around friends who weren’t invited (and I don’t think it makes sense to invite them because they’re not really a part of the social circle involved)
  34. Finding myself talking about doing something around friends who weren’t invited (and I didn’t invite them because I knew they’d be too busy/wouldn’t be interested, but couldn’t be bothered to invite them as an empty gesture of courtesy)
  35. Finding myself talking about doing something around friends who weren’t invited (and I just plain don’t think they should be invited, period)
  36. Leaving voicemails through which I end up rambling on and on like a dumbass
  37. Talking to hot people I don’t really know
  38. Talking to hot people I don’t really know AND they’re being nice to me
  39. When people start complimenting me out of nowhere
  40. Talking aloud to myself and making weird gestures as I articulate my thought process as per usual and realizing other people can probably hear/see me
  41. Saying something that wasn’t really funny or clever but the other person didn’t hear me the first time so I have to repeat it and this time it’s definitely not funny or clever at all
  42. Saying something that was pretty funny or clever but someone in the group didn’t hear me the first time so I have to repeat it but this time it’s not funny or clever and wow, did I really just butcher the delivery of my own witty remark
  43. Being the only person of color in a room
  44. Being the only Asian in a room
  45. A stranger with a really thick accent asking me for help and I really want to understand them and help them out and I definitely don’t want to come off as some racist/xenophobic asshole but for god’s sake what are they saying someone please help
  46. When a dude hits on me and I’m not interested but I can’t outright reject him because my friend is snuggling up to his friend and now I’m like obligated to hang out with this douche
  47. When a dude hits on me and I’m not interested but I can’t outright reject him because he’s a regular at the bar I kind of want to be a regular at, too
  48. When a random dude on the street says something demeaning and I don’t say anything back because I feel scared and powerless and ashamed
  49. When a random dude on the street exercises what he feels is his right to have a one-sided conversation involving me (“Hi cutie what’s your name cutie can I have your number okay then bye cutie”)
  50. When a friend who is nearly flawless complains about the one pimple on her chin and I’m like, bitch, that’s me on a good day
  51. When I accidentally find myself following someone out in public because I just so happen to be going in their direction and now I feel like a creepy stalker, so much so that I take some random roundabout way just to avoid seeming/feeling like one
  52. When I spot someone I kind of know and take some random roundabout way just to avoid having to interact with them
  53. Seeing someone I know strictly in a professional setting (like a teacher) in a public setting (like a nightclub or a grocery store) oh god
  54. The time I told a gay friend I had “2 gay things” to tell her and then I was like well shit that came out wrong and felt like the dumbest straight person ever
  55. When I’m talking about oppression against a particular marginalized identity that I don’t have, to someone who does have that identity, and I feel really self-conscious because I’m trying to be a supportive ally and not some kind of appropriating/colonizing expert and I’m just hoping that my well-meaning intentions come across
  56. When someone with more privileges than me in society demands that I explain to him why he has privilege because he certainly doesn’t feel like he has any
  57. When a white dude points to dictionary.com’s definition of racism as proof that he has experienced racism
  58. When a white dude says he doesn’t have any privilege because he doesn’t own any slaves
  59. When a white dude has to racially code my attractiveness
  60. When a dude asks if I have any hot Asian friends who are single because I am evidently not attractive enough to merit existence in any of those categories, thanks a lot
  61. Misaligned high-fives
  62. Trying to high-five someone who just leaves me hanging like a doucheface
  63. Misaligned hugs
  64. Trying to hug someone who just leaves me hanging like a doucheface
  65. Trying to hug someone who very reluctantly reciprocates and I’m just like fuck why did I initiate that shit for
  66. Hugs in general tbh
  67. Making out
  68. PDA
  69. People who don’t know they’re being awkward
  70. Me
  71. People sneezing and me having to resist the urge to say “Bless you” in case people interpret it religiously or when people don’t say “thank you” in response which is not to say I want gratitude but more like wth they’re leaving me hanging better just avoid it altogether
  72. Having people say “Bless you” when I sneeze and then maybe 2 more times before giving up because when I sneeze I fucking sneeze a lot
  73. Jokes that are so unfunny and stupid that I end up laughing at how unfunny and stupid they are but the person who made them thinks I’m laughing because I think he’s being clever and funny
  74. People who think they can say homophobic shit around me because I’m straight
  75. People who think they can say anti-black/racist shit around me because I’m not black
  76. Sit-down dinners with people who would be somewhere further down my completely speculative list of people I would save from a hypothetically burning building