I want to share with you my social dilemma. Now I am fully aware that this is not a social dilemma in the true sense of the word, but this is MY social dilemma.
When I was growing up, I was PAINFULLY SHY. Like I had no friends until I reached Grade 7 shy! I would keep so to myself that even I didn’t know I was there.
As I got older, I got less shy…or more confident, as that too could have been the root of the problem. I was still very much quieter than others, but at least there were eventually ”others”. I mean, one cannot go through life completely alone, surely?? Shame man…..all lonely and solitary?? Stop being mean!!!
Anyhoo..I might have found some people to call my own, but I was still exceptionally socially anxious. And yes, I am aware it has a name, but the minute I put a label to my ”condition’ it becomes a disorder….and I think we can all agree by now, that I do not have any space for yet another disorder!! So let us just agree that it was merely a trait as opposed to a disorder.
I managed to “blend in” socially by just keeping very still…pretending like I wasn’t there…and that seemed to work. But I still was a socially awkward, shy, self conscious and inhibited misfit.
Our social media in those days was the Citizen Band Radio…you know…’’10-4 good buddy’’ era. This is when life as I knew it, changed. I first met a friend…my special friend to this day…for those of you who have read my previous blogs, she is “The Deserter”. We were so similar, but therein lay the problem. We were both socially awkward, shy, self conscious and inhibited misfits. Sorry Deserter, but I know you would agree. We saw each other fairly regularly, but different schools, different areas etc, meant that we didn’t spend huge amounts of time together. So, when I was not with her, I was a misfit, when I was with her, I was one of two misfits. Hence, my social skills were not being challenged in any way. Don’t get me wrong….I was TOTALLY okay with that!! However, one cannot lead a normal life by hiding and being mute!!
Then I met another friend, who totally got me and loved me, but would have none of that reclusive behavior. We were young and free, and she just wanted to have fun (you know, like normal people). Go out, socialise, be where it was all happening etc. So she virtually led me by the scruff of the neck, and took me on her journey. Now and again, I would play dead to get out of something, and grab me by the scruff she did. A few times I told her my mom said I couldn’t go…..ha….no problem too big for her…she would call my bluff and phoned my mom and asked if I could go. Well actually, she knew my mom had never said I could not go.
Now this might sound like a dysfunctional and abusive friendship, but, in retrospect, I realise how much I would have missed out on if I wasn’t ruthlessly and relentlessly dragged out of my comfort zone!! I still continued to keep very still…pretend like I wasn’t there…move in stealth mode and leopard crawl to a destination to remain invisible.
Just because I would rather not have said anything, as I just preferred to observe and listen to other people, did not mean I was not enjoying myself. I was just doing what made me feel comfortable and safe. Often people asked me what was wrong. Truly, nothing was wrong…..ignore me and continue you exceptionally blessed and socially functional human, I would think, but just smile and insist that nothing was wrong. Of course the moment had been ruined, as I had now been noticed, and that never made me happy.
This lasted for, what felt like years then, but a couple weeks now, until I met my future husband. Let’s call him “Spice King” (aka SK), as he blessed me with my sprogs, Salt and Pepper. Now SK probably would not have been someone that a person who was looking for me to ”come out of my shell” would have handpicked for me. He too was not the most social creature, but he spoke…out loud…..so that was good.
When it came time for me to meet my future mother-in-law, I vividly remember SK driving us to the house.
” Just try not to be too shy, my mother doesn’t like shy people”, he said, looking slightly uncomfortable that he even had to make such a request.
Now, because I was but a puppy…..and one that barely spoke, I did not even think to question this any further. I mean, how can one not like shy people? Perhaps they could prove to be a bit annoying….as I am sure I was. Especially since on the rare occasion that I did speak….anxiety would grip me, and the sound that came out of my mouth was not unlike the squawk of a parrot. But after that, I tried to see myself from the viewpoint of others. I came to realise, that it was not the shyness per se, but how I was being perceived because of the shyness. I would come across as arrogant or angry…or both. So, I decided to start making more of an effort to….well……..talk.
This then created a whole new set of problems. When I did talk, it would be to say something. Now, that might seem obvious, but you really do get the people who talk, just for the sake of talking. Nope..not this nutjob….I speak if I have something to say. And yes….’tis true….I have a ”different” way of looking at the world. I like to call it correct, but that truly is just me. So, slowly but surely, the more I spoke, the more I put my foot in things. If you asked my opinion, I gave it to you….my opinion, not what you wanted to hear. If I had a completely different viewpoint, I expressed it….even though it was not the popular viewpoint. If compassion was called for, but I did not feel was deserved, I was not compassionate. And so began the unleashing of the beast. Slowly but surely, I spoke, and for the most part managed to aggravate, irritate and exasperate those around me. Even when I was using my snarky and superior wit and sarcasm (in the presence of people who did not know me)….I managed to aggravate, irritate and exasperate those clueless sods. Very often I would be witness to a face of horror and disbelief by the person in my presence.
So, this was, and still is, my social dilemma. I see myself…I hear myself…..and yet I cannot help myself. Even in my business, when I had Sybil working with me. He would be the social butterfly, the warmth, the person who made people feel comfortable. Me, I would say just one brief sentence, and people stared at me in disbelief. Sybil himself would laugh himself silly at what I had just said. I would then ask him if he thinks the person took me seriously, and he would laugh hysterically just thinking about what I had said, and then become very serious, and tell me that because the person did not know me, they might have been offended. So thereafter, I just tried to get back to my youthful social interaction…and say as little as possible. Of course, then they thought I was irritated or unhappy about something.
So honestly….what in the social awkwardness am I to do???? Perhaps the safest thing, is to retreat back into my mute world, and let me just thrash all my thoughts out in my blogs? Wait a minute….could that be equated with being a social media troll?? Nope…nope…I do not think so….the definition of a social media troll would be someone who ”purposely says something controversial in order to get a rise out of other users”. My motives differ, surely that counts for something?