Social Anxiety: Why is it so difficult to say “Hello”?

Serious question. There are plenty of options but none fit me. “Hi”, “Hiya” and “Hey” are too camp. “Alright” is too closed. “Safe” or “Wag-warn” are long gone, maybe on Facebook. There’s “Yo” but I’m also a 25-year-old English teacher. Plus, does anyone actually say “Hello” apart from Adele? Then what’s left? As a result, I normally say something cringey I instantly regret, say one of the above in a stupid accent or say the French or Spanish, this only adds to the dread of social situations.

Even if there were a simple word that didn’t sound strange, I’m also terrified of talking to people in general. If I spot someone I know in public, the first thing I do is try to avoid them. Why make a fool of yourself if you can just avoid the situation altogether? For people I don’t know very well, it’s a winner; it avoids awkwardness and small talk. The problem arises however when I come across a family member or a good friend, somehow who I would genuinely enjoy talking to, but I just can´t get past that first hurdle.

Recently, one of my best friends walked onto my bus, instead of shouting something offensive at him or taking the piss out of his clothes and getting him to sit next to me; my automatic reaction was to duck my head and avoid him. Thankfully, he went and sat upstairs. Once the bus approached the city centre, I stood up and walked to the front of the bus in anticipation of a big queue of people, it paid off as the queue must have blocked his view of me from behind. I jumped off the bus quickly and walked off before I heard a shout from behind. The shame I felt afterwards was immense.

On another occasion, I spotted my older brother in the same bar as me in town and I was too afraid to let him know I was there. At the time, I thought So I shout his name, he comes over, then what? I just saw him a few hours ago at home, what the fuck would we talk about anyway?

After the awkward “alreet”, if it’s a girl, it’s time for hugs and kisses. It’s not the physical contact nor the proximity which causes the issue, it’s the confusion. Do I have to give them 1 kiss on the cheek, or is that just for my Nan when she’s ill? Do I give 2 kisses, or is that forward? Do my lips actually need to touch their cheek or do I just pretend?

Hugs can be fatal; flailing arms can end up in all sorts of places. Also, once embracing, do you hold the hug momentarily or let go straightaway? Do I rub their back or is that the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard? What if we go the same side and our heads clash?

Finally, there’s the pressure to make conversation. In social situations, I can often be loud and occasionally I like to be the centre of attention; talking to the group as a whole is not the issue. However, speaking with someone 1 to 1 can be a catastrophe; I´m awkward, weird, really really nice or painfully boring. Even if I’ve known you for years or we´re best mates, my favorite conversation starters include: How’s the job going? What are you drinking? How old are you now? Is your birthday still the 13th September? Yep? Sound. Have a good night mate.

Just to remind you, I apologise in advance. If we bump into each-other, especially if we´re alone, no matter how much I love you, my immediate reaction will always be to pretend I haven’t seen you… unless I’m off my tits.

If we absolutely have to greet each other, here are some rules:

  1. Ladies, commit to two if we´re kissing. Lads, get off me!
  2. If we´re hugging, stay right, I’ll do the same (going the opposite direction is the same side you dingbat)