I've been frustrated with my social skills--or complete lack thereof--lately. People keep dropping me hints that I don't get until they spell it out in very loud small words, and I keep unintentionally insulting or annoying people. It sucks speaking fluent English but only beginner Human.
But here are two things I've noticed when berating myself for being denser than osmium on Pluto:
1) Most other people's social skills aren't so great.
The other day at work, I was uncertain whether I should do a particular test or if it had already been done. A coworker was checking records while I set up to do the test just in case, and then she looked across the room at me, smiled and nodded. So I did the test.
Then I got yelled at for doing the test twice when she'd just clearly signaled me not to. (It wasn't anything painful or expensive, just a waste of time.) And I was kicking myself, going "stupid stupid Holly, you can't read basic body language," when I realized--my coworker had given me a really lousy signal. I wasn't unskilled for misinterpreting it; she was unskilled for thinking that a smile and a nod would mean "no."
Sometimes I go around thinking that I'm in a world of tremendously subtle people who can all communicate volumes with a single look and I'm the only one who doesn't get it. It's important to remember that most other people actually aren't so suave themselves. Most communications in my life aren't suave person to galoot, but galoot to galoot. We'd do better just saying "NO DON'T DO THE TEST IT HAS BEEN DONE" than pretending that we're all suave here and galoots are an unexpected exception.
2) The best social skills in the world won't make people do what I want.
So there's a couple people in my life right now that I would like to date and fuck. But my relations with these people are, while very friendly and enjoyable, not really on a date/fuck level. And there's some horrible PUA part of my brain that wants me to think this is purely a failure of my social skills. Like if I could communicate in just the right way, drop just the right hints, it would change everything and "I like you, but I'm not sure if I feel that way about you" would instantly become "after our long romantic walk down the beach at sunset, you wanna do it doggy or cowgirl?"
(It's also horrible and PUA of me to even speak of a friendship as a "failure" because there is no penis-in-vagina. It's a very successful friendship! Sheesh.)
Now, there's no question that social skills do influence how people think of me. They have nothing to judge me by except how I present myself, so a good presentation definitely matters. But there's a lot of other things that matter too--factors in their own life situations and sexualities and thought processes that I can't even know about, much less change. Blaming everything on my own social skills makes me berate myself unnecessarily and it makes me disrespect the autonomy of my sexy friends.
I can--and should--be likeable, but I can't make people like me. They're social skills, not Social Fucking Magic.