Day 3 —Write about the worst time you’ve ever put your foot in your mouth.
It’s incredible how just a few words can lead so much embarrassment and discomfort. For someone who is inexplicably socially awkward despite coming from a family of extremely extroverted individuals and growing up attending social functions on an almost weekly basis, this can be a common occurrence. But if I had to pick the worst time, it would have been around when I first started University.
Having grown up extremely sheltered, the openness and freedom of university shocked and awed me at first. For the first time, I was not being dropped off or picked up by one of my parents but instead, walking to class on my own. I was making friends on my own (my religious conservative parents previously used to pick and choose among the people I was friends with and tell me who I could keep being friends with) and I reveled in this newfound freedom.
I feel like it’s necessary to note that if they could, they would have continued to keep a tight grip on me. But they cared too much about our “reputation” to do anything differently from any of the other parents – I count this as a very well-disguised blessing. It meant that to a degree, I had freedom. I took advantage of this freedom and jumped right into the campus life. I was incredibly friendly – something I’m capable of doing, although it’s not my natural state of being, so to say.
It was almost like a cheerful exterior that had an on-switch I could turn on whenever my family wasn’t around. As I’ve recently started discovering, it’s only my fellow Maldivians that I am awkward and silent around. But total strangers I have no connection with whatsoever? Well, then. What’s your name? What course are you in? I’m in -insert course-, I just joined in September! Are you new too? Can I have your number? Yeah, I’ll text you at lunch time!
Somehow, I was able to make a ton of friends within the very first month itself. But despite my sudden burst of extreme extroverting and socializing, I was still incredibly innocent and socially inept. For example, the first time I was invited out to hang out with friends, I jumped at the opportunity. I was 16, but it was quite literally my first time hanging out with people with no parents or patrons present. We went out to the campus pool, only to be shooed away because it was quite late.
We then called up a couple more friends and headed to the family karaoke place, a block away. It was a blast and more fun than I’d ever had before. Afterwards, the first clue that I got that I was a bit out of depth was when everyone was ready to head home, but no one lived near where I did. I did not want to go home alone in the dark so I asked one of the guys to walk me home. It ended up with all of them walking me back to the shop lot in front of my apartment after which I split to go home and they decided to rent a hookah at a shawarma place.
Not that long after, one of them caught me outside the class just as I was leaving the class. I was invited to one of our mutual classmate’s surprise birthday party at another classmate’s student residence apartments. I was blown away. I’d never been invited to a party before! At least not unless it was an open invitation to the whole class anyway.
Needless to say, I was all up for it. I met with one of them outside and “casually” walked past the security guards at the door of the student residential complex (casual hijab flip, anyone?) and up to the tiny 2 room unit my classmate shared with two others.
We set up, arranged stuff, etc. Most of the decorating had already been done. Not long after the birthday boy arrived and the surprise was a huge success. I got very into the spirit of things. We did the obligatory birthday stuff – the song, the cake, the smushing of said cake in people’s faces. I went along with everything, took selfies with some of my classmates, updated my Instagram, ignored the disappearing of the birthday boy and his girlfriend into one of the bedrooms and sipped some fanta over by a wall.
It was at this point that things went downhill.
There was a girl in my class that I was quite attracted to. It was purely physical and quite superficial – I liked the way she looked. At this point, I was only just starting to realize that I could be attracted to both sexes and quite far from accepting it. I figured that I just really wanted to be friends with this girl because I really liked her. Our conversation started off very normal and friendly. She was, if I remember correctly, from Kazakhstan. I was fascinated by her name, which I won’t publish here but at the time, I remember thinking it was the perfect name for a mermaid (can you tell how innocent and love/lust-addled my brain was at this point in time? Odd combination, I know, but it was what it was)
I asked her for her Instagram so I could tag her in our selfie. So far so good.
Then I took her number. Because we needed to stay in touch, right?
Then I asked her for her facebook.
I could tell at this point that I had committed some kind of social faux pas, so I quickly dragged myself away from her. Somehow it was always awkward with her after that. I don’t know if I came off as an idiot or trying-too-hard. I would not blame her for thinking either, seeing as I was both.
I was a little less adventurous after that and found a more comfortable middle ground between being extroverted and introverted. I am no longer in that course anymore, having changed my mind about the degree I wanted to do at the last minute. Now I’m up for the September intake this year for a different foundation program for the degree I want to do and here’s to hoping that goes well. 🍸