I used to be a very, very socially awkward child. Not "I couldn't ask out my crush" socially awkward--this was the real thing. I would, literally, crawl around on all fours pretending to be a cat, or roll around on the floor of the classroom making my markers walk like people on the carpet. In middle school. And I wasn't just eccentric but absolutely terrible at making friends--I've gone several years of my life with literally zero friends. In 7th and 9th grades, and my freshman and sophomore year of college, I didn't know anyone well enough to go over to their house or have them at mine even once.
Let me put this in some perspective, something that will partially explain it: I skipped 3 grades. 4th, 8th, and 11th. I was 15 when I graduated high school, 19 when I graduated college. Yeah, yeah, supergenius, got in the paper, awesome, except for this: if you were in college, and there was a 15-year-old in your dorm (a really weird one who would do things like stick needles through her hands and walk around going "hey look!" to people) which parties would you invite her to?
I don't want to blame it all on circumstances, though; I was a social moron. I was never socially phobic or antisocial--I always wanted to be liked--but until about age 20 I had absolutely no idea how. I was simultaneously so loud and inappropriate that people cringed, and so meek and shy that I could never ask someone to do anything social with me.
I also realize, although I was largely oblivious at the time, that my appearance reflected my general eccentricity. I wore nothing but relaxed-fit jeans and solid-colored baggy t-shirts until I was maybe 19. I had some sort of incomprehensible moral objection to using any products on my hair or any makeup on my face until about the same time, and my standing order at Supercuts was "as short as you can make it and I still look like a girl."
The worst part, though, was I simply didn't know how to hold a conversation. For many years something as simple as phoning the registrar's office to ask a question was a daunting task. And talking socially? Ugh. My two modes were "total silence" and "HI I LIKE CATS DO YOU LIKE CATS I LIKE CATS AND ALSO WOLVES I SHOULD BE A CAT WOLF MEOW AHWOOO HA HA."
But here's the interesting part of this sob story: I got better.
It's still an ongoing process, but around age 20 I started being able to talk to people. I started dressing and wearing my hair normally, and I started attending social events. I started dating guys who weren't weirdos. I started having a lot more friends. Maybe most significantly, I started being able to understand how people reacted to a behavior, and became able to predict in advance whether something would go over well. My struggles went from "why don't they like me yelling POOP when other people are talking, poop is funny" to "should we hug or just shake hands?" I wasn't unable to learn social cues after all; I was just very, very slow.
I still embarrass myself more than I think normal people do. I'm still learning to find the line between being meek and being self-centered, and I know I cross it all the time. I can't always tell when I'm taking a joke too far or when I'm not taking a friendly or sexy advance far enough. The worst part, right now, is the paranoia: did I just do something terrible and they're just humoring me to be polite? Will I only know I was wrong when I don't get invited back ever again? Will I never know but secretly they all think I'm a floor-crawling Special Child?
(I was crawling on the floor last night, too, but I don't usually, it was kind of a silly semi-kinky thing--I was only following orders!--and other people were playing along, so I think it was okay. I'm honestly uncertain though.)
But even that is fading, it's more of a joke by now. I'm getting, at age 24, to be a regular sort of person. I look regular, I talk regular, I can eat lunch with you or come to your party and not be That Girl. I can go on first dates and job interviews and by the end of them the person will actually like me. I think I'm emotionally ready for high school now.
How this impacted my sex life is probably another entire post (or this entire blog, really), but clearly there was a big-time impact. From fucking only the weirdest freaks during my freak years, to developing bizarre fantasies through my eccentricity, to the sudden and sometimes overwhelming explosion of possibilities as I become socially competent, the story of my social awkwardness is all tangled up in my sex life.
I don't want to get all bootstrappy, to be "I did it so can anyone!" about my recovery from weirdness, because a lot of people in my situation have real disorders and bigger challenges, so I'll just say that I'm so fucking glad that I was able to do it.