23 Oct Thoughts on social awkwardness and friendship
Thoughts on social awkwardness and friendship.
When was the last time I felt at ease talking to people I just met or barely know?
I don’t know often what to say to people in social situations. I feel the terrible pressure to make sure the conversation keeps going and there is no ‘awkward’ moment of not knowing what to talk about ..
My brain gets overloaded and disorganised when I am supposed to talk about certain things I have not yet formulated into words. I get terribly vague and inarticulate as if I have a brain of a pea size.
I used to hide myself physically and/or psychologically. I always disliked cocktail parties (but always love small parties with friends at home when I am in mood). Once or twice, at opening of something or a few gatherings of ‘who would like to give airs of this or that’ to others, I just had to escape because it was too suffocating for me. So I found a comforting place no one can find me or bother me: ladies’ bathroom.
My husband had to ask people around to find me eventually.
I often thought and still think at times that no one is interested in me, and I have nothing of any value to say. Or rather, I felt my opinions were not legitimate or intelligent or interesting enough.
I am at my best when it is 1-1. Even then, I still have difficulty focusing my eyes on the person I am conversing with because I feel as if I am looking at something I am not supposed to see. I have to actively tell myself that it is ok to look at the person.
Perhaps because I saw too much that I didn’t want to see when I was younger.
There was one period in my life in early 20s when I just couldn’t look at people. I didn’t know where to gaze at! I would sit at the table in the conservatoire canteen, and constantly look around restlessly. I was terribly nervous and too stimulated by a sheer number of people around me.
My dearest friend whom I was sharing a flat with said in one afternoon- so lovingly,
‘Mookie, it is ok. Look at my eyes’.
That was an act of love, and true friendship. My eyes get filled with gratitude to this day when I think about it.
I stopped looking around, reassuring myself that it is ok to look at people. I don’t have to be embarrassed or even ashamed to be me.
I felt no one wanted to be my friend, and I felt people were ‘extremely kind and generous’ to hang out with me. I saw it as an act of charity so-to-speak.
I never fitted in anywhere really- particularly in institutions: How much I hated every single meal at the boarding school, being terribly anxious about with whom I can sit, how much I felt left out in the gatherings of peers, how much I felt I could never be part of the college, etc.
I felt I was a permanent outsider, orbiting around a star I could never get close to. It felt as if I would circle aimlessly for millions of years to come.
Looking back now, The gravity that kept me orbiting was not the gravity I thought it was.
I realised that I had to accept myself that I am who I am, and ‘it could be worse’ as Danes may say. It is too bad that I am not the person I thought I had to be in order to be loved and ‘popular’.
I accepted that I didn’t have to be perfect and know and do everything ‘right’, and I don’t have to feel inadequate for not knowing all the political issues, for not knowing this musician did what ( I cannot care less anyway), for not knowing the economic trends, for not knowing what the heck I am supposed to say.
The real lesson is that the gravity wasn’t really there ever. Perhaps i looked for the evidence that the gravity existed because of my early life experiences.
I created the constitution and order of a galaxy in my head. Well, at least that is how it seems now.
When I shift my focus from the uncomfortable feelings inside me to the person I am conversing with, I am not at all shy and awkward as I always believed I was.
All this is to say that, in the end, it doesn’t matter how I appear to others in a social situation because I have loving and beautiful friends. I don’t think they chose me because I was ‘cool’ in parties. I don’t think they chose me because I knew all about which product to use for spots. I don’t think they chose to be there for me because they thought they could gain something from me.
They embraced me with all the shortcomings and peculiarities that I carry, and they continue to be there when I am in need, they continue to accept me that I am indeed neurotic and complicated at times, they continue to love me despite all the disappointments I caused, and fundamental f—k-ups I did.
They continue to forgive me even if I have been a selfish, needy, self-obsessed, and arrogant person who wasn’t a good friend really.
My heart was filled with joy, gratitude, and love this morning when my dearest friends left. It is always sad to say goodbye but this time it also had a different meaning: these friends have been the witnesses of my life last 18 years- the path I have taken, the life experiences I have had, and how I got to be where I am now.
I just wish that I were a better friend… I wish that I had more love in me to give more.
It is ok. Look at my eyes! I am looking at your eyes now and you can look into my eyes too!
I am so grateful to have these beautiful, ever so loving people in my life. One of the most precious gifts that I received in my life.