Social Uncertainty

I am not good at remembering names, and I’m only slightly better at remembering faces. Even in a world where I’ve got social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn to help refresh my memory, I often find myself feeling somewhat awkward in group social situations because, while I may have met some of the participants before (multiple times), many of their names escape me. The result of this is a shyness in approaching a familiar face whose name I forget. Or, although more seldom, the resulting embarrassment of introducing myself to someone who knows my name (and whose name I “should” know).

There are any number of tricks to help remember names such as selecting a distinctive feature of the acquaintance and associating his/her name with it in some way. Or using his/her name frequently in conversation in hopes that it will improve your memory in the future. However, tricks only carry you so far.

The downside to being uncertain of names and faces is the resulting shyness in social situations. However, the solution is not necessarily a better memory, but, instead, increasing my risk tolerance. It’s freeing to realize that it’s impossible to go through life being certain of everything. Getting a name wrong is far better than not talking at all, hanging out by the wall, and feeling awkward.

So. Forget a name. Forget an occupation. But do it by acting.

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