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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Friday, August 16, 2013

Conquering A Social Situation

Me taking a picture of myself taking a picture
of myself taking a picture of myself...

(Click on the button to join in!)
  I've told everyone before that I'm on Meetup, right? In case you don't know what it is, it is just a sight where people can organize real-life groups to go out and do things or to meet and talk about a subject they all like. For instance the one I went river tubing with last weekend was a local women's group. 
I also belong in a group that is for both ladies and guys, that is just a social group. I haven't gone to any of their meetings yet... except for one time when I went to a farm with about three people. Anyway a town near by has this thing at the park district which is kind of a social gathering for "young professionals." They have a little party each month with some sort of theme and free appetizers and activities and junk. Well the social Meetup I just told you about, they had this event on their schedule for today. It sounded interesting and I kinda wanted to go, but I kinda didn't. 
The reasons I didn't want to go were because I imagined everyone standing around talking, and me just standing there looking awkward and doing nothing. I also looked up pictures of the young professionals gathering from previous months, and some of them looked like it was dark and noisy, like a party. And also, I am not sure if I can really consider myself a "young professional." Because isn't that a yuppie? Young Urban Professional? Not really me. I'm a person with a teaching degree and no job. I figured I'd stick out like a sore thumb. 
But then I realized that I took an oath on  The Insomniac's Dream that I would step away from technology for an hour each day and do something in real life. And even though I am not literally on the computer at all hours of the day, I am literally alone all day. I can go days without encountering a single human being besides my dad. So, I thought, let me step away and see some people, and I can always walk right out if I feel uncomfortable. So I talked myself into going. I even got all dressed up, as you can see from the selfie I took in the mirror! 
When I got there, there weren't many people yet. It was in a small little room in the park district building. 
At first, it was just as I feared. I was just standing there awkwardly. And then, a lady came up to me and started making awkward small talk, which was sort of even worse, because I suck at making small talk! If she had come up to me and asked, "Do you like dogs?" or "What are your feelings on puppy mills?" or "Please tell me about working with children with special needs," or "Do you think Wisconsin is a way cooler state than Illinois and would you want to live there?" then I would have lit up and felt comfortable talking. 
But that stilted "So, what do you do?" "I do bleh bleh bleh, what do you do?" "I do bleh bleh." "I see! I see! Have you been here before?" I am no good at that. I tend to run out of things to say and then start looking desperately around for ideas on what to say. "Wow, that wall over there sure is blue! Hey, I wonder if that drinking fountain has cold water in it?" 
So I stood there with the lady choking out some form of conversation. I started thinking I wanted to get out of there as soon as I could, and I actually told the lady that I was waiting for my dad to text me so I could go give him a ride home, so if I got really uncomfortable I could pretend to get the pretend text. 
Then it got better.
Some other people walked up and started talking. So the pressure wasn't all on me to try to come up with things to say anymore. And one lady said she was trying to start an online business selling natural makeup but that she wasn't having much luck, and I started talking to her about reaching out to bloggers and asking them to review her products, because that was a good way to get the word out about her business, and she was interested in that, and we talked about blogging. And one guy mentioned he worked at a hospital and had started a support group for people living with or recovering from cancer, and how the basic principles of the support group were to help people learn about cancer, advocate for themselves, feel like a community, and be able to laugh about it. And I told him I thought that was awesome and we talked about his support group for a while. 
And he was from Wisconsin and we talked about things people eat in Wisconsin that they don't eat here, like deep fried pickles and cheese curds. (Basically in Wisconsin they'll just toss anything into a deep fryer and then eat it. And fried pickles may sound nasty but they are dee-li-cious! But very filling. And cheese curds also sound gross but they are basically very tiny mozzarella sticks.) 
And then some guy came and started randomly putting leis on people (because it was a beach theme even though it rained and we had to be inside and also there is no beach in that town) and we were laughing, and then the food came and we were eating, and then someone took pictures, and then some more people came to where I was standing and were talking about Meetup, and I told someone I was going to California and we talked about that... and before long, it was almost over! 
I left feeling happy and proud of myself for going. Nobody seemed to think I was particularly weird. Did I make any friends? Not really... but I at least learned a few people's names, and if I see them again at Meetup or at the young professionals gathering, I can remember them and talk to them some more, and, you never know! 
For my Happiness Challenge for today, I am happy that I overcame my anxiety and went out and tried something new. I was really, really close to not going, but I went anyway, and I stayed for the entire thing, and I did a good job. That is a big thing for me. I am super proud of myself 
Also do you want to see a picture of my dogs? I randomly took it right after I took my selfie in the mirror. The small dog is Lily and the big dog is Trixie!

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