• Either I don’t know how to be social, or I just hate people

    You know what’s really hard? Being in attendance at a party where you don’t know half the people and the others are mostly ones you vaguely know and dislike.

    What happens when you transplant the ultimate bogan party into a city bar? Go on, guess.

    Call me cynical, but I find it extremely hard to humour wasted people who think they’re being deep and meaningful, or females in too-high heels and too-short skirts (IQs usually diminish in relation to how high the hemline is). Oh, and I’m sure I saw a nipple or two flailing about last night. Seriously girls, put it AWAY.

    Also, I obviously need to learn to dance to drum n bass. You may laugh, but it requires a totally different style from the usual poppy/hiphoppy club fare.

    Lastly, I never in my entire life thought I would see a crowd of people dancing – yes, dancing – to Limp Bizkit’s Rollin‘.

  • Seven tips for making conversation (with strangers)

    talking.studentsI read this blog entry at The Happiness Project the other day and thought “what the hell was that?” Most of them, I thought, were fairly straightforward. I couldn’t argue with them. Comment on general topics, shared  interests, ask open questions, react in kind.

    But a couple of things she mentioned were so ludicrous, seriously!

    • 4. If you do ask a question that can be answered in a single word, instead of just supplying your own information in response, ask a follow-up question.

    Fair call. Up till this point:

    • For example, if you ask, “Where are you from?” an interesting follow-up question might be, “What would your life be like if you still lived there?” If you ask, “Do you have children?” you might ask, “How are you a different kind of parent from your own parents?” or “Have you decided to do anything very differently from the way you were raised?”

    Oh really? Let’s see, if someone asked me how I parented differently from my parents, thirty seconds after meeting me, I’d have to try very hard not to turn and simply walk away from them, or barring that, try to resist shouting “WTF?” in their face. That’s super weird, super intrusive and super personal. Not an appropriate third “getting to know you” question, in my opinion. I would not take kindly to someone who did that and probably wouldn’t speak to them ever again if I could help it, and yes, I WOULD tell all my friends about that creepy person I met who asked about my parenting style or upbringing immediately after asking my name.

    • 7. A friend argues that you should admit it! “We’re really working hard, aren’t we?” or “It’s frustrating—I’m sure we have interests in common, but we’re having a difficult time finding them.” Clearly this is a desperate measure, but my friend insists that it works. I’ve never had the gumption to try it, I have to admit.

    Well, good on her. Even I, the queen of social awkwardness, wouldn’t bring up just what an awkward time I’m having with someone. There are some times it’s best to be straight up, but this really isn’t one of them. What do you expect to happen after putting it out there between you? “Wow, we really have nothing to say to each other!” “Yeah…so….lovely weather isn’t it?”.

    I find that how well I make conversation really depends on my mood. Sometimes I just don’t feel like talking and will go out of my way to avoid crossing paths with people, even ones I know. Other times I just can’t be bothered making the effort, especially if after efforts to engage in dialogue, the other person doesn’t respond in kind. But if I’m feeling good about myself and what I’m wearing and how I look (shallow, yes) it makes a world of difference and I could almost pass for an extrovert-in-training. Not so much with people older than myself, or REALLY IMPORTANT PEOPLE – they make me nervous –  but definitely with people around my age.

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    Why I like phone interviews:

    It’s easier for me to stop, think and deliberately slow down. I’m a motormouth; I talk ridiculously fast and others have trouble keeping up. I also mumble, but over the phone I can slow my pace and enunciate more clearly and awarely.

    No eye contact. Eye contact has ALWAYS been an issue for me. I feel really uncomfortable about sustaining eye contact for any length of time. A friend once told me – “You have nothing to be afraid of, nothing to hide. Eye contact is the one thing you DO have, it shows you’re in control” Or something along those lines. I’m sure I didn’t phrase it right. But the point was, it’s a sign of strength and confidence. Yet I just can’t quite do it. Taking away the visual aspect helps my nerves. It also kind of stops me rambling on nervously to fill the air which I often do. I mean, I get nervous just being alone talking to a tutor – I know I’m babbling but I just can’t help myself most times.

    Holding the phone gives me something to do. In person I’m very fidgety. Kind of goes along with the eye contact – I can’t sit still, or even stand still (I shift from foot to foot). I never know what to do with my hands. I play with my hair. It’s pretty unprofessional.

    It doesn’t matter what I look like or what I’m wearing. This is a biggie. If I’m having ANY skin/hair/clothing issues, it colours my entire day. If I’m wearing glasses and not contacts, I don’t feel as confident (and I feel more geeky and like I’m not looking my best) and feel like I blend in with all the other bespectacled Asians around.

  • Caring for your Introvert

    I’ve always considered myself classically introverted. I enjoy being alone, spending time by myself relaxing, reading, recharging. I have no problem with my own company. I rarely feel lonely. I’m pretty sure I could hack living alone, as long as my friends lived reasonably close and so did BF.

    I can only ever remember feeling really down and alone once – I was flatting with a friend, who’s very social and has a big group of friends who she often sees and calls up. I sort of stopped talking on the phone sometime after the age of 14 or 15 and almost NEVER call my friends.

    Anyway, one evening she had a long phone convo with someone, then her BF came over and stayed the night. Mine didn’t. And just for some reason I felt really, really isolated, and had a bit of a cry and felt sorry for myself. Why wasn’t I a social butterfly? Why didn’t I have three hour conversations on the phone? And why wasn’t BF there with me that particular night?

    I rang up an old friend – one who was my three-hour conversation buddy back in school. She listened, patiently to all my silly emo angst….and I don’t know how she put up with it…my back and forth over analysis of my crushes, and what did that one fleeting moment of eye contact mean, and why didn’t he smile back, etc…..She’s great. The kind of friend you want to have – you can go weeks, months without seeing each other, and then catch up like you’ve never been apart, no awkwardness. Since finishing school and going our separate ways the intervals in between have got longer and longer, but it hasn’t changed a thing. That I think is a great friendship, and I hope we’ll always be friends.

    Getting off topic. That aside, around friends – true friends, that I’m comfortable around and show my true colours with, because I don’t feel self conscious or try to impress them – I sort of come alive. I’m more sparky, energetic, funny. With everyone else, I’m shy (which comes across as stand offish). After maybe talking to someone at uni once, I won’t usually approach them next time I see them.

    The Atlantic has a great article on ‘caring for your introvert’.

    “Do you tell this person he is “too serious,” or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?” – SO very me.

    I can’t yet tell if I’m introverted or just shy. Do I  grunt or wince when “accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?” Sure, sometimes. I’m very ruled by my heart. If I’m having a shitty day, well I’m sorry, I can’t hide it. Do I need to be dragged to parties and then take forever to recuperate? Hell yeah, and it’s not because of the hangover. I am useless at small talk (working on it, and improving, but still not that great). “Introverts are people who find other people tiring.” Well, yes, sometimes. Is that…bad?

    “after an hour or two of being socially “on,” we introverts need to turn off and recharge.” Um, sometimes.

    “For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: “I’m okay, you’re okay—in small doses.” Totally. Most people are used to have friends in and out all the time, coming over to watch Grey‘s together, make popcorn, do facials on each other, whatever. Not me. Hate unaccustomed visitors! Most nights I come home and have a quiet evening with BF before bed. I know, sounds boring, but on the whole it suits me, with the odd night out.

    I am not, however, “dynamite” at presentations. In fact, the exact opposite – I would rather eat feet than give a presentation. My voice goes small and tinny, my entire body flushes red, I try to speak slowly but end up going at double speed.

    Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not.” Okay. Maybe just shy, then.

    How many people are introverts?

    About 25 percent. Or: Just under half. Or—my favorite—”a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population.”

    Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Haha, interesting. They apparently have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion.

    BF is an extrovert to the core. He’s a storyteller, a performer, a lover of the spotlight. He usually hogs attention wherever we go, which suits me just fine. He doesn’t really spend time alone. When we lived alone, just us, on nights I worked late I’d come home and be really annoyed that he hadn’t even started dinner. In fact, he’d usually be out with friends. He didn’t like being home without me, by himself. The whole ‘coming alive around others’? Yeah. Not really enjoying his company, always needing something to do? Yeah.

    He really needs some hobbies.

    The only thing a true introvert dislikes more than talking about himself is repeating himself. Oh. MY. LORD. Starting a new year at uni means incessantly repeating yourself. Where I work. How old I am. What school I went to. ETC. Can’t stand the repetition! It’s also a pet peeve of mine (alongside bad spelling) when people tell and retell old stories (BF, looking atcha!)

    Unfortunately it’s an extroverts’ world. They make impressions. They exude charisma. They get ahead. They’re seen as normal, what we should aspire to.

    We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking. Hence, why people call us quiet. I often think over what I’m going to say two or three times. Not always, of course. But in serious situations.

    How can I let the introvert in my life know that I support him and respect his choice? First, recognize that it’s not a choice. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s an orientation.

    And, when you see an introvert lost in thought, don’t say “What’s the matter?” or “Are you all right?”

    Thank you. Couldn’t have said it better myself.