Sunday, 9 February 2014

Erratic Behaviour

At some point, I cannot say when, it isn't very recent - probably when I started working management or so, I started a process of realising that things I find scary are often things I am not good at and that the reason I am not good at them is because I haven't learnt it. So I started picking up new skills, slowly expanding my comfort zone.

Trying new things. Going places I wouldn't have gone before.

One skill I picked up, something I became comfortable with, during the past five or six years, is talking to people in small groups, people I don't know. Preferably without a lot of background noise, because it will distract me and make it hard for me to get what is being said and what is going on, but still, the conversation, the people themselves do not scare me (some people do but this is another issue altogether ;) ).

If the group becomes too big, or there is too much going on in the background (sound, visual things, etc), there is too much input and I quickly fall out of the group, losing track of the conversation, unable to participate. I have a bit of a filter issue I guess, I see and hear and smell and touch and feel so much, and I remember most of it, and my brain has to process all of it. This constant barrage of impressions and input is, I think, a big part of my need to be at home in a controlled environment to recharge so much. It is also the reason for my need for my headphones when I leave my home, to limit things a little bit, an aural barrier between me and the world.

And here comes the thing that is still scary to me. Slightly larger, or fluctuating, groups of strangers or semi-strangers or acquaintances, a lot of background noise, unfamiliar surroundings where I am still taking in all the impressions. I don't know how to do it, I don't know how to talk to strangers in these surroundings, I get paralysed and afraid of I don't know what, while my brain tries to process all the information.

Ironically I am totally okay with going one step up - going to concerts alone, or to larger settings where I am just a person in the crowd and don't have to handle much social context. (I come to dance!)

But anyway, I figure there is probably some skill here too. I know that the ability to get to know people, to network, is a skill that can be learnt and I am working on that. I want to be able to go places and hang out with people and have fun when I feel like it, without having to message all my friends to ask if they want to go somewhere. I want to be self-reliant socially - I am not sure that is the right words but I think they make sense in the context. I want to learn this thing.

So I put myself in situations where I have to try to learn it and sometimes it goes less well.

Yesterday I felt like I was behaving Very Strangely, I was so off, so out of balance mentally and emotionally, and feeling so isolated and not knowing what to do about it. It took almost an hour before friendly faces even started to register (but man, were they appreciated, though I probably didn't express it well), I was so overwhelmed, pressed against the wall. I am pretttttty sure behaving eccentrically is not helping my case. Not sure what to do about that however.

I do think I need to try to get enough of a network that I will be able to go places and not go there alone, but being cut loose after a while when I have started to acclimatize. Dunno. I am speculating. I know I am much braver, more relaxed, if I have someone I know or sortof know with me, so I can focus on them - force my focus! - if it becomes a bit too much. And I guess I feel less like a weirdo if I am not going places alone :)

(Note to the last one: There are places in the world where going places alone and drinking beer does not bother me in the least. Stockholm, and specifically the synth scene, is not such a place however.)


4 comments:

  1. I understand what you mean, because I'm pretty much the same. Going out of the comfort zone in professional situations is fine. For instance, I enjoy getting exposed to new scientific challenges. Going to a noisy bar or to a concert is no problem, because I feel no expectation to interact with the people around. But going to a party (say an aniversery) where I'm supposed to socialize with people I don't know, I find very stressful. I think I'm a natural born introvert who has learnt to behave, kind of, in the most common social settings, such as work-related situations.

    Cold As Heaven

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    1. I am both introvert and shy (the kind of shy that really wants to be liked and is convinced that won't be so pulls away), neither of which is really noticeable a lot of the time because I know how to behave like society expects - in most cases. But I am also slightly sociophobic and sometimes my brain freaks out completely. Let's say if I go to a really big place where I can dance, or is big enough that there are so many people that it is unlikely that anyone will notice that I am being awkwardly alone - that's fine. Or at a concert where being there alone isn't that weird. Or in a smaller group; with friends say (closing out the external world by will) or at someone's home or similar. Up to maybe 6 people if strangers, or 10-12 known ones. Also fine. Then there are these smaller bars where there are nowhere to hang out alone and not look awkward standing by a wall; which are small enough that if you circle slowly you'll do laps often enough that it will be noticed by pretty much everyone. WHAT SHOULD I DO OH NOES. Heh. So yea, Friday I went awkward on the world. Poor world.

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  2. How do you feel about talking on the phone? That's always been one of my major dislikes, calling people, presenting myself, .... I always tried to avoid phone calls as much as I can. I'm really grateful to those who invented e-mail and SMS.

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    1. I can be ok with it if I know the person well. But I really avoid it as far as I can, and to a large degree I am more or less phobic of that too. Phone rings -> I give it a startled look, check the number, flip it over so it goes silent and ignore it. Mostly.

      SMS is the same, but email is ok. I like email, and while I won't necessarily open SMS I will read and answer email in the phone.

      Weird how the mind works, hmm? All those little associations...

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Be nice!