Long standing awkward person
Now that the world is reopening half my social media seems to be celebrating hot girl summer while the other half are mourning the loss of banana bread in their pyjamas and legally enforced solitude.
I am a shy introvert with a particular aversion to hanging out with boyfriend’s friends. This started as a teenager when I very rarely had anything to say in a group of my then boyfriend’s group. In hindsight this probably had more to do with them being a gang of vaguely racist, homophobic, stereotypical farmers I had nothing in common with than any hard-core social awkwardness on my part.
Nevertheless I decided I was pretty useless in a meeting new people context and I remember buying a book on social anxiety. This was just as interesting as it sounds, I remember nothing from it and probably gave up after a few chapters.
Still awkward, still scared
Skip forward to being 32 years old, I survived university, working abroad for a summer and turning up at various Buddhist retreats and mum clubs without knowing anyone. However when the guy I am seeing (long winded title for someone who is too old to be referred to as boyfriend) invited me to his 40th birthday party all my old people meeting stress came right back.
For anyone who knows me in real life this isn’t a surprise as I have complained at anyone who came near me about how stressful this is. I’m quite happy hanging out with my guy I am seeing on a one to one basis, and a select few other people, but then I can happily self isolate.
Unless you are bringing non verbal babies along then the rule of six is excessive in my opinion.
Learning how to communicate in a socially acceptable way
When I was on maternity leave I had an inability to make conversation beyond the topics of babies and intense hatred of men. This didn’t seem an ideal way to be successful on Tinder so I read a book on how to talk to people. As my brain barely worked in 2020 this information didn’t last long so I had to panic read this book again in preparation for the very scary prospect of talking to people.
The general gist of the book was that people bloody love talking so chill. Ask questions and try to know enough to avoid sounding like an idiot, but not so much that you become a conversation dominating show off. Let the other people be a conversation dominating show off and that is a good way to make people like you.
One thing they did recommend was to learn a little bit about a lot of things, that way you can at least figure out some questions to talk about what they love and use the right words.
For example she suggested you spend an afternoon playing squash and you’ll have a basic idea of the game and a squash enthusiast will have a great time chatting when you start using all the very exciting squash lingo. (the spoiler alert is that I did not have time to take preporatory squash classes and did in fact manage to mantain a satisfactory level of conversation). However that was basically a very long winded way to get to the point of this which is…
Trying 52 new things
The author suggested trying a new thing every week so that you have a wide variety of experiences to call on when chatting to strangers. Whilst I admit this is a bloody big commitment to being good at small talk (noting that I am still actively avoiding conversations with people I do not know well) I feel it is probably a fun thing to try after a really boring year.
So here I am committing to 52 new things for 2021 and also realising that I barely went anywhere for four months and this list is going to kick off with the bar very low so you may look forward to a post about being a shit mum and forgetting world book day coming soon (technically justifying this one as it is our first time celebrating).