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Dear Breakup Girl,
That's me! My God, BG, thank you for finally giving me a label for my problem.
Doesn't fix the problem, but hey, it's a start. I am, to the casual
observer, a very outgoing spontaneous person. I am in theater, I do comedy improv.
I am in sales, which means lots of interaction with people. My friends think
I'm witty and a shoe-in for finding "The One". I, however, do not.
I am 6'0" and 130 pounds. Every girl I've dated ended things kinda half-heartedly,
as if to say "I think this might be the best thing for both of us,"
only the majority of the time I'll have second thoughts, but they've already
found their next beau.
I have the ability to speak at graduation, to do improv in front
of large crowds, yet, I cannot initiate conversation with a cute girl I've just
met. The "eye contact" thing you mentioned hit really true with me,
too... I work at the mall, and walking around, I'll see attractive girls, and
I won't know whether I should smile or just look down to the ground so they
won't know I was looking. I smiled once, and the girl actually quietly smirked
and laughed to herself while walking by. She liked me, my friends say. She thought
I was pathetic, I'd say. I've been laughed at (not with) by girls
before. I feel like the main character in Swingers who is called "so
money" by friend,s but just comes off as a clumsy dope who can't get his
ex out of his head whenever another girl comes along.
Anyways, I've been tongue-tied for over a year now. Specific
advice for a "shy extrovert?" What to do?! Help mebefore my self-esteem
takes a swan dive off the Rock of Gibraltar and starts affecting my outgoing
self like it did in high school!
You do improv? Perfect. And not just 'cause of what Diane
See, everything I need to know I learned in improv.
You've learned it on stage; now apply it elsewhere. Specifically:
1. Don't "block."
IMPROV GUY 1: Yum! I'm so glad we came out for pizza.
IMPROV GUY 2: What? This isn't a pizza place. This is the Rock of Gibraltar.
Improv Guy 2 is blocking. Makes for bad improv, as well
Application: Listen to what your friends say. Take their
word for it. If that's what they say -- even if you think you have a
better idea -- go with it.
2. Never try to be funny.
Just as I told Paul.
Don't dig for the joke on every putative straight line. Keep asking questions,
making suggestions; forward the plot. Let it find you when it's ripe, good and
set up, when the groundwork's laid. Then it's funny.
Application: This approach takes the pressure off every
single exchange, every single interaction. Is there a punch line there, a phone
number even? Maybe, maybe not. So what? More getting-to-know; next setup. Meet
people in groups, through theater, work (where you feel comfortable). Let rapports
blossom. Go for the zinger when it goes for you. (By the way: I know listening
for the laugh got you in trouble at the mal and elsewhere, but that's different.
Sure, giggles sting no matter what, but I wouldn't focus so hard on the "at"
part of her laugh. Eye contact and smiling are good, but they make some people
nervous. And some people laugh when they're nervous. End of story. Don't dwell.)
Okay, Chris? You're doing fine. (Think of all those people
who'd say "Oh my God I could never get on stage, especially without a script!")
Just practice, make sure you eat and exercise, and before long you'll be saying,
"I need a location ... for a date."
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