So, I’m weird. You might have gathered that from the title of this post, or maybe you already knew that. But yes, I am weird. Reallllly weird. Ok, not like the kind of weird where you collect decapitated Barbies or various hairballs coughed up from different cat breeds. But just the kind of weird that makes a little space between me and everyone else. You know that feeling?
Maybe it is partly my introvertedness, or my overexcitabilities, but I’m just sayin’. Yesterday I went to an event, a half-work/half-leisure event. The drive there is usually an hour. This time, there was a lot of traffic and I wound up having to drive two hours just to go to this event. From the moment I got into the car, until the moment I was actually INSIDE the building where the event was taking place, I was having an inner dialogue that went something like this:
Weird Me: “I’m turning around. This is stupid.”
Bossy Me: “No, don’t turn around! Get yourself together! You can’t be the only one who doesn’t show up! And besides, you want to see a couple of people there.”
Weird Me: “Ok. I’ll keep driving.”
A couple of minutes later:
Weird Me: “I’m turning around. This is bullshit. And, why do I HAVE to force myself to do things that I just don’t enjoy?”
Bossy Me: “OH! Well, THAT’S not selfish, now, is it?!”
Weird Me: “What I really want to do is turn around, go home and write all evening.”
Bossy Me: “Hm. That does sound nice.”
Minutes go by while I listen and sing to a song on my Bluetooth playlist. After a while, I come to a fork in the road. I have to decide now. It’s now or never. Turn left; go to the party. Turn right; go home. The tension rises in my chest.
Bossy Me and Weird Me simultaneously: “Ugh. This is kind of ridiculous now. Come on, decide!”
My hands on the steering wheel literally move slightly left, slightly right, back and forth in utter indecision. I come up to the fork, literally to that point where they usually have some sort of barrel or barrier, and if I didn’t decide NOW, I would most likely crash into it. Like Sandra Bullock in a SPEED movie, I turn the steering wheel swiftly. Done. Decision made.
Or was it?
Oh, I forgot to say which way I turned. (drumroll please) I turned left. To the party. My bossy other self won the argument.
But like I said, this didn’t end here. I found my way to the location, found a good parking spot, turned the car off and sat. Silence. Except, not quite silence because my conversation rattled on in my head. But bossy self pulled me out of the car by my left ear, dragged into the building, told me to just go in, try it, and leave if it truly is lame. So kudos to bossy self.
You might be wondering now why I am calling myself weird. Ok, the introverts (or other writers out there) probably have gone through this too and don't think this is weird behavior at all. The extroverts among you, however, are probably by now thinking I’m a bit strange. I mean, why be so freakin’ tortured for a stupid party? And parties are supposed to be fun, right? It’s not like you’re getting ready to have a colonoscopy, or take a big test, or something.
This is where my weirdness shines. I hate small talk.
I. hate. small. talk.
Or, it’s not that I hate in the sense of thinking it is totally useless. It can be quite helpful to get into a conversation with a stranger. Break the ice. But seriously, conducting such ice-breaking work is tedious and torturous for me. Utter torture. I’d rather turn my car around after having driven two hours, than have to conduct small talk. Now, don’t get me wrong. I CAN do small talk. I’ve trained myself throughout my entire weirdo life. But I feel like gigantic heel doing it.
So, what to do when you’re at a party with people you’re not really friends with? I’ll tell you how I dealt. I used mindfulness (you didn’t think I was going to post something without that word, did you? <eye-rolling emoji>). Yes, folks. It’s my go-to help for pretty much all of life’s predicaments.
Social Weirdness the Mindful Way:
I walked in, and noticed where I was first. I took in the room around me, the smell, when we moved outside to the party, I noticed the beautiful greenness of the trees the blue sky. Wow. How beautiful it is right where I am. Now.
I talked to people, thinking, “Oh, they are judging me.” Then I took pause to ask myself, “Are you perhaps judging THEM now?” People, let me tell you: I was. I went in to this event with a judgment that none of these people have any interest in me, and that I won’t enjoy talking to them. Bam. OMG!
I was the judger in this story!
So, instead of criticizing myself for judging, I didn’t. I chose to be mindful to myself, accept that I was the one doing the judging, (and not get all upset about it or ashamed) and decided to be mindful with others. I looked at people. I observed conversations and I noticed that they were all just as uneasy sometimes as I was. I noticed the beautiful smiles on their faces. I listened and asked questions.
This is where the magic happened. Suddenly I felt connected. I felt connected to people I don’t really know. We were all there together. Each of us with our judgments, expectations, beliefs, insecurities.
Suddenly I noticed felt humanity. I noticed our common humanity.
I still wasn’t really doing much talking. (I still don’t like small talk) But I became relaxed. I relaxed into the acceptance that I could just “be” there. Nothing else. And by just “being”, I belonged.
If you ever experience some social anxiety, take a step back and notice. Ask yourself: "what am thinking/feeling/sensing in my body right now?" Recognize things as they are in the moment.
Breathe. Take in your environment with all of your senses.
Allow yourself to just “be” in the situation. You do not have to do anything. Just be there and observe. No one will notice or think you’re the weirdo just standing there. Believe me, they are all focused on their own junk.
Place your attention on the other people. Notice how beautiful their laughs sound. Notice how someone starts to blush. Listen to the conversations. Listen to the separate words and not the meanings behind them. Just notice things. Notice the beauty of people. Their different skin colors. How their eyes squint when they smile.
You get the picture?
Be mindful, be flawed (be weird), be human, be alive!