Sunday, 2 August 2015

Awkward Turtle Alert


This week I confess that I have found myself enveloped in a feeling of inadequacy; unshakable and corrosive. Author Dorris Lessing once said “when writing about oneself one is writing about others”, which is why I feel it may be cathartic for me as well as possibly beneficial to others to articulate this feeling of inadequacy. For some unbeknownst reason I have always drilled into myself the idea that speaking to somebody else about your worries and those subterranean issues/anything deeper than trivial conversation to be weak. Although I know this is a standard I only employ for myself and would never label anyone else as less than for reaching out to another, it remains immensely difficult for me to follow suit. Old habits die extremely hard, which is why I am using the outlet of my blog as a personal pensieve.

Newton’s third law tells us every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so what caused this feeling of dissatisfaction to descend over me like a very grey and unwanted cloud? Well my fellow socially awkward turtles, it was of course a series of social gatherings. I want to preface this by explaining that whilst I would definitely class myself as an introvert, this does not mean that I am incapable of being an outgoing person on occasion. I can only speak for myself and what I find accelerates my anxiety and sometimes this in itself can be a murky issue to define. Sometimes I will find myself getting anxious in a social situation I envisaged as being unproblematic, other times events that I dread turn out to be perfectly fine and enjoyable. Amongst friends and a certain network of people who I click with, I think I am very outgoing and chatty, but frequently when I’m around new people, people I haven’t seen in a long time, or people whom I deem superior to me, I withdraw into my little turtle shell. When I get like this, I feel paralysed. I fear I come across as disinterested or dismissive when in reality I’m internally panic stricken. I often think of anxiety as like being in a car that accelerates from 0-100 in five seconds; blitzing down a motorway when you’re not even in the driver’s seat and feeling completely out of control.  I know there will be people reading this that really cannot empathise with the feeling at all. To those pure extraverts, my anxiety and the feeling of inadequacy that often ensues is an anomaly, like when people tell me they don’t find Friends funny or don’t like Stephen Fry; it simply cannot be comprehended. On the odd occasion I have tried explaining why I find some social situations difficult, it’s reciprocated with a non-committal shrug of the shoulder and a clichéd “Ah these situations are all part of life” type phrase, which only serves to further exacerbate my feeling of frustration towards myself. Why can’t I just get over it and not care about what people think?

In the space of a week, I found myself in numerous situations where I felt awkward and uncomfortable. An unexpected situation arose whereby extended family where all gathered together and the inevitable “so what are you doing with yourself?” type questions ensued. I immediately felt talentless, dull and painfully self-conscious. As I have gotten older, I seem to have lost the ability to small talk. I find it absurdly difficult to talk about myself to new people or acquaintances, instead I do my best to quiz them about themselves and often feel like I’m grasping at straws in an attempt not to look idiotic. My social ineptitude felt further highlighted when I looked around the room at the ease at which others seemed to converse. In particular I paid attention to the confidence some of my female relatives had. Everything just appeared so effortless, their beauty, their demeanour and their ability to express an opinion without fear of judgment or worrying about looking stupid. Is this profound confidence a gift from birth or is it FedExd to you on your 21st birthday in a box with a red ribbon? If the latter is true, I’d like to request priority posting on mine, please.

I think perhaps the worst part is the personal ramifications after these social events. The anxiety lingers even when I am removed from the discomfort of the event. Even though I know it is futile, I find myself replaying the situation over and over and over in my head. Dissecting every minute and beating myself up over perceived stupid remarks I may have passed, or scolding myself for not making enough of an effort to converse; I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I’m afraid this post is lacking in the inspiration department, but if I crack the code on how to master these social situations, I shall let my fellow awkward turtles know ;) Perhaps this blog post is the first step to success, admitting that I have a problem! Perhaps like the old story of the turtle and the hare, us awkward turtles will finish first in the race to becoming a contented, carefree socialite ;)

Until next Monday,

Love always, Amy. x

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