Three years later, in 7th grade, I took speech. I had signed up for art, but that didn't work out. In speech, we had to get up each day and participate in "roll call," which basically consisted of standing up and answering some dumb question. My social breakthrough came one day when we had to give a favorite quote in a foreign accent or, if we didn't have a favorite quote, then we could just say anything we wanted to. I didn't have a favorite quote, so I came up with something ingenious. Imagine a bad German/French accent: "So zere ve vere: lockt in a room vissout sheez."
To my shock, people laughed. I had never had people laugh at anything I had said before, especially not anything in public. People had laughed at me before, but not like this. I loved it. From then on, I started volunteering for public speaking situations. I would go on mission trips and youth camps just so that afterward I could participate in the testimony night and get up in front of everybody and be a ham.
Five years later, I was the cool senior in the sophomore choir (and bass section leader. Bam.). For the spring concert, we had to break up into groups of 3-5 kids and pretend like we were mingling at a 1950s school dance. I wandered over to a group that consisted of another senior whom I knew and two sophomore girls. I stuck myself in the situation, I pretended I was witty and interesting, and three years later, I married one of those sophomores. It's suggestive at least that you can change your social abilities. I'm not saying I'm the best or that I've "never met a stranger." After all, my wife was a stranger once.
I said I didn't have a favorite quote in 7th grade. Now, my favorite quote comes off a Starbucks cup:
I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people
and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I
was very stumped by this for many years. And then I realized, you just
say, "Hi." They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And
that possibility is worth that one word.
Augusten Burroughs said that. I said hi to a cute sophomore once, and she ended up marrying me.