How shall we interact with our fellow human beings?
To some of us, the answers to this question make it scarcely a question at all. Those lucky few are innately programmed with knowledge of what to do and say, and how to get along.
For others, the lack of this knowledge, or perhaps the questionable knowledge holding its place, can be a terrifying liability.
I am such a one. At a dinner party in 1990, an attractive, young woman began to interact with me through behavior I would today deem as flirting. At the time, my abilities with women, what I frequently hear on modern television to be termed “game”, was sorely inept. The attraction between the woman and I was mutual, so, I fast began to sweat and turn a bright red hue. I stumbled on my words, trying to construct clumsy sentences and failing repeatedly. Being a kind soul, the woman continued to talk to me without remarking on how nervous, or soaked, I was becoming. Others at the party were a different story. I began to feel as though everyone present was staring at me. They were careful about it, sure, but looking at them for sustained intervals, I repeatedly caught them taking visual account of me. This amplified my anxiety ten fold. The pressure built and built. Then, I couldn’t stand it.
I stood abruptly up from the table, rattling it and spilling a glass of wine. All eyes were on me now, and making no secret of it. Then came the real trouble. I screamed at the room, “What the fuck are you looking at!? What!? Stop fucking looking at me! Stop laughing at me!” They were silent, but clearly shocked. The silence became unbearable and I started to question the wisdom of what I was doing. I had to stop that thought fast, so I turned my anger on the young woman. “Stop humiliating me, you horsefaced bitch!” The silence persisted. The woman, who I should explicitly state was attractive and faced like no farm animal whatsoever, began to cry. What to do now? I took a glass of water from the table, and poured it over her head. A large man at the end of the table stood, and began approaching me. I ran for the door. Just before crossing through the doorway, I turned, and without a plan of what to say, uttered in a stuttered scream, “You! I- You all should die of disease!!!” Then I was gone.
That was many years ago. I never spoke to anyone present again. Since they were mostly work acquaintances, I did not return to my job at the telephone book company on Monday morning. Nor ever. I took only the shame I’d brought on myself, and resolved to start over somewhere new.
My behavior at the dinner party demonstrated poor social skills. The sad truth is that these were the only kind I had. Because of that, I can share the event with you today, free from the shame. When I was awakened, and began my spiritual path, I was able to look at myself honestly and start the slow path of change. Slow it has been, but steady. Today, I can interact with all manner of people, including women I’m attracted to, without explosive behavior. I am not perfect, and do sometimes make mistakes, but I am accountable for my behavior today, and when I err I take actions to correct it. I don’t need to hide from anyone. For example, I returned to a Denny’s in Sioux Falls last year and made restitution of $672 for a destroyed booth and portion of carpet, some results of my behavior in the restaurant three days prior. However, I proudly can say that such incidents are now rare.
Today, I can approach people and situations without fear. Or panicked violence against strangers. This is called social skills.