Sunday, 24 February 2013

Social Anxiety or Pariah?

Every other day I say to my self "I need to get out more". I need to practice my social skills. I don't have many friends where we now live, I have not had the opportunity to really network yet. Should be easy right?

I have managed to get a few phone numbers from people, but in the past, I have made some bad choices when it came to befriending people, so I am a bit wary. I am taking my time this time to exercise caution ... that's OK isn't it? We have only been here a year ...

I find it difficult at times to go out to places with my youngest LJ, where there are lots of people, as he still tends to run off a bit and is still learning to play appropriately with other kids due to lack of exposure to these situations I suppose, a bit like his Mum really?

And there it is ... The realisation, that I do feel inept, unable, uncomfortable and a bit of a fraud.

I can talk with a mouth full of marbles underwater, and at times, this can be a very valuable strength, but when I am a bit anxious, a little intimidated or just feeling like a fish out of water, this is what I revert to ... ultimately, what I know! Talking, or, in my case, offloading information and lots of it!

I do know how to have conversations, I have them all the time with my long time friends, I do know how to actively listen and not just wait for my turn to talk, I do consciously know many good social manners for interacting with others, but when I am making new friends and I feel a little stressed, it all goes out the window!

I long for a few local friends but feel when I do get a chance to meet and make that initial impression, I blow it EVERY TIME! I get so excited at the sniff of an invitation, for my kids or me, and then I get anxious.

I prepare for the occasion, I pack extra "props" for LJ in case he might need distracting, I ponder what to wear and make sure we are all clean and shining, I put on my best smile and off we go.

It is always nice to meet the children my son goes to school with and have the time to chat with them, and put a face and a name to their parents, and then, it happens ... I become, "that woman that won't shut up".

I see other parents observing and coming in to "rescue" each other with a change of subject or a request to attend to "a little issue", (my observations panic me more), they are all aware of each others discomfort and manage it within the community that already exists for these people, protecting themselves/each other from the outsider who will Just. Not. Shut. Up!

And then, I go home, feeling stupid, knowing I can do better ... and I will, next time.

Next time does not come, LJ gets no more Birthday Party invitations, parents run past me at school, always in a hurry, stating before I even get a chance to speak "I can't stop, we are in a hurry". And I know what I have done, I know how annoying that person who is me is, I can't stand her either, she bores me to tears too, but I cannot make her go away in those situations!

Thank God I have my old and dear friends, thank God I have a Counsellor who cannot run away or avoid me and has no choice but to listen to me and thank God my children still have friends at school where I cannot muddy the waters.

One day she will find another place to live that woman who will not shut up, but for now, me and her, we are friends, and I will just have to be the one who tolerates her.

Happy Ending: If I am to rely on having conversations with myself, at least they will be intelligent!

Do you get a little anxious in a social situation?  How does it impact you? How do you deal with it? How do you make new friends?

Am I not pretty enough?
Is my heart too broken?
Do I cry too much?
Am I too outspoken?
Don’t I make you laugh?
Should I try it harder?
Why do you see right through me?
Chorus: Am I Not Pretty Enough - Kasey Chambers

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