Honest: I Think People Forget Who I Am

A month or two ago, Soren and I went on a date. I picked him up from work and we headed over to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner. It was a rare, but welcome night out just to catch up and eat together (also rare!). We sat down and deliberated over what kind of wings to try. It being my first time at the restaurant, I had no idea there were so many kinds of wings. But I knew I liked wings in general, so we went with the basic mild recipe. We waited for our food to arrive and people-watched. 

One of the waiters looked really familiar to me, which isn't crazy because I grew up here in Kansas City, but it was kind of crazy because we were on the other side of the city. I told Soren, "I think that guy's name is Ethan. I think we went to elementary school together. I think we were best friends and ate orange peels together at lunch." So Soren replies, "Well you should say hi to him and stop looking at him like that! You look like you hate him!" That sent me on a whole rant of, "Well, I'm just squinting to see if I really recognize him. What if he doesn't remember me? What if it isn't him? What if I say something dumb and he thinks I'm crazy? What would I even say to him - especially if he doesn't recognize me!?!" Of course Soren thought I was being ridiculous and even rude, but I maintained my position. 

So, I said nothing. I actually kind of tried to avoid looking at him, just in case it was him and he did remember me. Now I really do sound crazy right?

Around then, our dinner arrived. I typically order milk with my wings (much to Soren's embarrassment), but that night I stuck with Diet Coke and oh, I paid for it. That mild was not mild. I gave in to the heat after about three pieces and then stuck with my salad.

Neither of us could handle the heat! I could not stop laughing at Soren painfully working his way through those wings. He does not like spicy foods at all, but he also hates to waste, so he just agonizingly finished them off. 

We finished up and I definitely left feeling like dinner was a let-down, but not because of the food or the company. I felt small. Like I really had been a chicken and maybe even rude. As a self-declared introvert, I don't feel like I naturally possess all of the best people skills. I'm generally afraid of things like phone calls or potentially awkward situations. So in line with that, I honestly believe, like deep in my heart, that if I haven't seen someone for a few years - or maybe even a year - that they don't remember me. I also probably don't remember their name (I'm terrible with names), but even if I do, I would bet money that they don't remember my name or my face.  

Talking to my husband on the way home and in subsequent conversations I have realized that 1. I am probably wrong. They likely DO indeed remember me. And 2. Wouldn't it make their day if I said "Hi, I remember you!" first? I'm sorry if this is like totally normal human knowledge, but these ideas had never entered my thoughts. I was so worried about how I would feel if they didn't remember ME or if I didn't say the right thing or if I was embarrassed. Seeing a theme? Me too. Why hadn't I thought of it from the other perspective before? 

It feels great to be remembered! Any time that someone recognizes or remembers me I am so taken aback and it feels wonderful - whether I know them or not! I really want to work on this challenge this year because it is all about being brave and open and confident in the best way. I can't say I've done it yet, but I'm committing to it now. 

Have you ever struggled with this?  What do you say to people that you haven't seen in a long time and aren't sure if they remember you? (I'd really like to hear it - I need ideas!!!) 


  1. I have the same problem! And my husband gives me grief over it too! I would see people I used to know, really well, and I'd seriously do an about face in the middle of the grocery aisle to avoid them! So when we moved to Missouri 6 months ago I was in heaven! I didn't know a soul! Haha. Until I ran into Sarah two days in a row wearing the same shirt. I wanted to DIE.

  2. I am that way too. Fortunately I have friends who push me out of my comfort zone or I wouldn't be married to my amazing husband. We'd met briefly at a triathlon, but hadn't exchanged names. 2 months later I saw him again at another race, but he didn't see me. I elbowed my best friend and said "There's that guy I met at Tellico!" She urged me to go say hello and my response was "But what if he doesn't remember me?" Her answer was "Well, then you will just seem like a nice person." It took every bit of guts I had, but I finally walked up and said hello and what do you know... he DID remember me and was super excited to meet again! The rest is history.

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  5. ugh. I am the same way. I would rather look at the ground. THen later, I realize how insanely lame that is (and I am not an introvert).
    I had to giggle. I am not a wing eater, but my boys are. And my 11 yr old is all about 'hot'. His goal is to try 'blazin' (ew)

  6. I am so glad I am not the only one. I always assume people won't remember me and I come off looking like a total B....says a dear friend of mine. My 10 yr old daughter struggles with this as well so we have both been trying to at least make eye contact and say HI! Baby steps!

  7. Well I Have this freaky amazing memory of people's faces and often see people that I know I know from somewhere. Sometimes I wonder if our paths have just crossed a few times and I remember their face yet have never spoken with them but my mind races to figure it out. It drives me crazy when I can't figure out where I know them from. I often do say hi and sometimes it goes great and other times I feel crazy. Just the other day at church we had a visitor and she looked so familiar. She said she was visiting from Logan, Ut which is the small town I went to college in so I asked I knew her from there. After telling her she looked familiar maybe from USU, we figured out we were not there the same years. I ended the conversation by saying that we must have been friends in heaven :)
    On the other hand, a few months ago I went to a two day women's conference. A woman sitting in front of me the first night looked so familiar and I could not decide why. I didn't say anything to her. The second day of the conference we ended up sitting next to each other and I just had to ask her if we know each other. We discussed a number of reasons we might have met and came up with nothing. I was starting to feel crazy and then it hit me. She was the host of one of my cousin's baby shower. I had met her that once a few months before. It sure is a small world!
    Be brave! Sometimes you seem crazy, sometimes you don't, but I think it's worth the risk!

  8. I was so bad at this during college. I would meet people and then pretend we had never met when I saw them again. I thought they didn't recognize me and I would seem weird if I remembered them. I look back now and should have owned my great memory! I saw a show on 60 minutes about individuals that never remember anyone (even their own mother) and those that remember everyone and how though both "pretended" to cover up their "oddities". I thought to myself that is in a way what I was doing. I by no means remember everyone I come across but I do have a pretty good memory and was "pretending" to be something I was not to not risk being thought of as weird/different.

  9. Oh my….it's like you are my socially awkward twin ;-) I am terrible at social situations. So bad. Phone calls + me = disaster. I can NEVER remember other peoples names… I give the worst first impressions because I get so overwhelmed in groups of more than 2 or 3 people and just stop talking. Plus, OMG the squinty eye thing…it's totally just my concentration face, but I'm pretty sure people think I'm a big meany, LOL. We just moved to a new town, leaving behind the safety of my already formed social circle, and I keep telling my husband that I wish I could skip the getting to know you phase with people and jump into being best friends…because I'm a great best friend, just a sucky acquaintance. :-)

  10. So glad I am not alone feeling like this. I have a great visual memory, and ALWAYS remember faces, but never know how to act, do I say hi? Do i pretend and feel weird? My latest awkward meeting happened last week, I was at the pediatrician office with my son, when my brother's ex-girlfriend walked in. Ohh, knowing myself, I hoped she talks to me first, but she did not. And so my pretending has started. For the next 30 min, I wanted to simply disappear. I really hate this weakness and shyness, but so far i was unable to break it.

  11. I feel like that too! I usually try and avoid someone if I recognize them because I'm afraid of an akward conversation! I am definitely more of an introvert though too so I am more likely to avoid interactions with people I don't know that well

  12. I totally know how you feel!! (Although I can't imagine people forgetting you! You really have always seemed very memorable, and I mean that in the least weird way possible.) I used to be so self conscious and down on myself about it after so many times when I remembered someone and they didn't remember me. I love what you said about thinking about it from their perspective though. It's funny, but the thing that helped me the most (I think) was this project I did for a social psych class at BYU where I was forced in a way to see it from their perspective~ I went up to random people on campus that I had never met, hugged them, and started talking to them like I knew them to gauge their reactions (if they pretended to know me, admitted they didn't, etc.). I realized they all probably felt bad for not remembering me when they really didn't know me! But I think some were flattered anyway for being "remembered," haha.

  13. Kilee
    This made me laugh. I've totally been there, and regretted not being the one to say something. Loved this post!

  14. Hee hee, I am just the opposite, although wouldn't describe myself as an extrovert necessarily. If I see someone who looks familiar, although I am really TERRIBLE with names, I always bowl over and say "hey, don't I know you?". My husband thinks it's hilarious, but I think that because I was always thrust into situations of having to get to know new people as a child (lots of moving around, and being sent on transatlantic trips every year on my own to visit my father) I just go for it with new people. BUT that doesn't by any means mean that I don't occasionally worry about whether people may think I am foolish, or feel hurt by people who are rude or rebuff me in return. It's not particularly nice being ignored or getting the cold shoulder, but I've learnt to shrug that off. There are always going to be cold people who make you feel bad, but then, that is their negative karma and negative energy they end up carrying around. The quote you posted about smiling rather than not smiling back is just lovely. Go for it - at the end of the day, you honestly have nothing at all to lose.

    Would love to invite you to come and link up to the #AllAboutYou link and pin party every Tuesday. Won't spam your blog with a link, but do pop by my blog and you will see it. x


  15. Gah, I seriously could have written this post! I do this ALL the time, and then I end up beating myself up and feeling ridiculous about it later. I might not remember what happened last week, but for some reason I totally remember everything and everyone from the time I was in elementary school through high school. I'm sure that no one remembers me though (and especially not as well as I remember them!). I always see people and then completely freeze up...case in point, last year at SNAP I was SO worried that no one would know who I was that I didn't even approach or meet hardly anyone because I was locked into some serious social anxiety panic. I totally missed out on the opportunity to get to know people and form connections because I was afraid of putting myself out there and not being known. Ridiculous, right? I swear I'm going to make up for it this year! :)

  16. I love your storytelling. Cute. I know I am late but I recently discovered your blog and I am going through reading old posts.


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