I am a self-pitying ne’er-do-well who sits on the couch binging and procrastinating. Or maybe I am just a narcissist…coz I do write a lot of stuff about myself! Oh who am I kidding? I am not grandiose enough to be a narcissist. Let’s just stick to self-pitying loser.
However, I have been able to grab the concept of how to succeed in life…well theoretically for sure. I know success and knowledge comes through sharing. That is by sharing information and learning from others. Each lesson learnt is an ingredient. And then you use it to sort of create your own recipe. Even life gives you the proverbial lemons only when you ask for it. You may make lemonade or you may squirt them in your eyes— that’s up to you. However, what do you do if all you love is to be out of sight and out of mind? Like me.
I sleep with a blanket covering me from head to toe. Every morning, I put on my puffy jacket and wish it were my invisibility cloak. Well, according to random “psychological evaluation” I did online, that is an indicator of constant need to be hidden and being afraid of facing reality. The psych evaluations may not be clinically approved but they do seem to point somewhere in the region of truth. I always think that no one should see me and I shouldn’t have to talk to anyone. I have done ridiculous things to avoid people like taken four flights of stairs to avoid being stuck in the elevator with someone for thirty seconds, waited to get to home to pee just so that I don’t bump into some girl in the toilet and simply put on earphones without any music to pretend not hear someone call out my name! But I know all those people who have met me the second time, are in on my secret. Well, second because since I started working, I had to learn the skill of the “introduction” and the one of “small talk”. You can’t look dismissive or disapproving of someone you’ve met for the first time. You might need their help to continue getting paid! I am passably friendly when I meet someone new. It is not easy. My heart is always pounding in my chest at the idea of meeting new people. But on the second time I meet someone, my kitty gets empty pretty quickly. After I have used the material about the weather, how is work, and how are they, what do we do? Get personal? Why? They might not be interested in getting to know me more; I most of the time am not. So I become quiet quite suddenly and then just lay low in a room full of people. They do know something’s off but they’re too civil to ask. Can I blame them for trying? I just wish they won’t look at me. But if they didn’t or if they were as chicken as I was, I would have no one to talk to. Once I do find the people who are not repelled by me (and vice versa) or who do not mistake my silence for my arrogance, I am as verbose as one can get. But it’s that awkward duration of a couple of months or a year when I will just be lurking around the corners in parties….happy to be invited but vehemently trying to avoid further interactions.
I can almost relive the trachea collapsing pressure of participating in my first conference. The outcome was not surprising. I won no hearts. My trachea did almost collapse while presenting my paper, I failed at making any contacts with the important people in my field as I couldn’t ask them for their cards or even give them mine, and worst was I couldn’t even have lunch because I didn’t want to stand alone next to a pillar. The only way I have ever given a good presentation is when I know the group I am talking to (and like them) such as my classmates. Too bad conferences don’t last for a year or I could have really gotten to know those smart people and thrown a few zingers during my talks (Huh! It had to be called that just to spite me).
Why am I not more outgoing? I have tried. Really hard. Every time I move to a new place, I have a window of about a month before the nerve wrenching shame kicks in and for every simple (read: silly) thing I do, my brain sets up a jury of 12 to evaluate my actions and the jury always comes out with the verdict— guilty of causing embarrassment.
But, there’s a protocol for being a human being and we all have to live up to the social expectations of humanity. I concede that indubitably, it has always worked out for me. I met my boyfriend through a series of small talk sessions. He is the loquacious one between us and has no problem “making conversations”. I even managed to make a few good friends in life. While my stories do not end like every sappy movie about a shy girl who ends up winning the beauty pageant, or the prom queen title or even becoming the Princess of Genovia, I think it’s good to go through the grind and becoming better at simply “talking to people”!
The mere idea that I am using air quotes shows I am not ready for it. Hey! Still trying.