Being Less Naive And Innocent And Getting More Of An Edge
Individuals who struggle socially are sometimes so inexperienced with other people and the world that they come off as really naive and innocent. This doesn't apply to everyone who's socially awkward, but some people who fit that description have spent so much time on their own that they don't know things that most of us take for granted. This is particularly likely to happen with people who are high school or university aged, where there can be big gaps in life experience between one student and another.
The whole point of this article is a bit subjective. There's not anything inherently wrong with being innocent or a bit naive. Overall people tend to sort themselves into liked-minded groups based on their interests and values. The edgier folks find each other, as do the less edgy ones. I'd also argue it can be a whole other problem if someone has too much of an edge. In general though I think it's good if someone can find a nice middle ground. Most people have at least a small amount of edge to them, so if a person comes across as extremely guileless and wholesome they may be unnecessarily handicapped in their social interactions.
Being overly innocent and naive has the following drawbacks:
- Overly innocent types can be looked down on as clueless goody goodies.
- They may not be invited to edgier events, because people assume they wouldn't enjoy themselves or know how to handle them. Again, for an extremely innocent person an edgy event could be nothing more than a party where there will be alcohol.
- They may be seen as too "nice", in the bad sense of the word.
- People may worry a wholesome person is going to be judgmental towards them (e.g., for getting drunk and making crude jokes).
- They may simply have the wrong idea about certain things, or be missing useful information about how the world really works (e.g., they may see every last person who smokes as depraved and evil).
- They may be afraid of things that are mostly harmless (e.g., seeing dance clubs as dangerous, sketchy places).
- In more extreme cases their innocence could lead to them being taken advantage of.
One thing I've noticed about innocence is that it seems to be a trait we sometimes like in other people, but don't necessarily want for ourselves. When another person is innocent we can sometimes be condescending and see them almost as a cute little pet. "Aw, look at how adorable and charmingly helpless they are!" There's a gender stereotype element that can come into play here too. In general guys are expected to be wise to the ways of the world, but some people like the idea of women being sheltered and inexperienced.
Learn more about the world
If you think you may be too innocent and want to get a bit more of an edge the first thing you can do is try to learn more about the world and the grittier side of life. It sounds dorky but you can even do this to a degree by reading or watching movies. The idea isn't to become some broken, jaded person who knows too much, more to shed your more extreme naivety.
You also want to try to get a more balanced picture of things you may initially have seen as completely bad. For example, an innocent person may have a simplistic view of, say, smoking weed and think everyone who does it is a horrible person. With more experience they may see there's a lot more nuance to it than that, and that plenty of otherwise decent folk smoke up occasionally, and that they're good little citizens otherwise.
If you want, try some edgier activities yourself
I'm not going to be dumb here and encourage you to do anything that's so edgy it's illegal or could otherwise get you in trouble. If you want to do that it's your call. Just know what you're getting into. However, there are some things that you may see as edgy that are actually pretty harmless. Like someone who's been really sheltered may see going to a bar as this crazy, rebellious act. It may broaden their horizons to give something like that a try. It's really just another way to learn about the world.