Sunday, January 20, 2008

small talk

We were blessed to be invited to Friendtabulous, the yearly shindig thrown by friends of ours. They always host it this very same weekend, year after year, for the express purpose of being in the same place as the people they love best. I really enjoy their company, their children and their home, as does the rest of my family.

I admit with embarrasment that I was dreading the party. Nothing different than any other party...I dread them all. I have Small Talk Anxiety, which, when coupled with Meeting New People Anxiety, practically gives me a stomachache. I've been this way all my life, I think, at least as much as I can remember. I was terrified of college, knowing that I knew a grand total of zero people there. Conversation with people I don't know is completely frightening.

Does anyone else have this problem? That is what I would like to know. I don't understand it at all. I am a fairly intelligent, well-educated and well-read person, I am pretty much up-to-date on what is going on in the world, and have a well-rounded pool of interests. And, as a parent, I know that in a room full of other parents, I can count on making Child Conversation, that is, conversation based on the interesting/ridiculous/bathroom-related things my people say and do. And yet anxiety sets in.

Part of the work I've done with Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County is to stand in front of groups of strangers and speak at length about what we are doing in my community. I can ask for large amounts of money, I have been known to challenge people to volunteer, to donate furnaces and shingles and things, and for the most part, it's worked pretty well. I can even stand in that same group of people and talk with each individually with confidence.

But tell me I'm going to a social event and I'm weak in the knees.

It must be the structure. At Habitat events, there's a point for me to be there: to get those people interested in what I do, to "make the sale". But I have such stress about making my sale. It's as if I have laid my worth out before these people I haven't even met prior to leaving the house. Waiting to meet them is like waiting to meet my judge. Even before sorting my thoughts out here, I felt ridiculous about this. And now that I'm seeing my (yes, crazy) thoughts, it seems even more silly. It is such an engrained monologue in my brain and I haven't been able to find the off switch. Where did I learn this? Why did I learn to think like this? I don't believe people actually come with such faulty wiring.

And now, post-party, I am still a little bit stressed. Everyone was lovely and there was great conversation about interesting subjects. OF COURSE it was a great time. We have wonderful friends, and wonderful people really don't hang out with obnoxious people when it can be avoided. The kids played together so well that we barely spoke to them the entire evening. It was great.

I hope there is an enormous 90-gazillion watt halogen bulb in my future, set out for the express purpose of shedding some light on crazy old me.

1 comment:

  1. YES. Yes yes yes yes YES I have the same problem. I hate small talk. I hate people awkwardly standing around, I hate being one of those awkward people, and I hate when people are actually good at small talk.
    Maybe thats why I suck at the whole being-social-at-college thing.


talk to me, people. because you know i get all giddy when you do.