I’m just wondering why I feel so all alone
Why I’m a stranger in my own life
-Sheryl Crow/Every Day Is A Winding Road
This is how it goes:
One more failure to connect
With so many how could I object?
–Aimee Mann/This Is How It Goes
It is not a secret that I am bad at being around people I do not know. I am socially awkward, shy, and terrible at small talk. I’m the one hiding in the corner watching everything from a distance. Whatever the opposite of a social butterfly is? That would be me. I love spending time with friends, in smallish groups, but large groups of people will never be a comfort zone for me. Or even small groups of strangers.
It took a long time for me to get to the point where I even wanted to be around people at all.
Partly because I’m introverted by nature. Partly because I’m solitary by nature.
Partly because being around groups of people makes emotionally and mentally tired after more than a few hours, even people I know and like. For a day it’s great. Longer than that and I start feeling like I want to crawl out of my skin. Sometimes, too, I just don’t want to be bothered figuring out new people.
In order to stay relatively sane, I need solitude in doses that many people would find strange.
Earlier in my life, I had the added worry that people might not like me. I felt like I had to act like someone people would like, and it was paralyzing. Plus, if you are never yourself, either internally or externally, you’re always a stranger. In your life. In everyone’s life.
If you’re a stranger to yourself, how can you connect to other people?
It’s hard to be someone else, even for short periods. It is why actors are paid pretty well. Most of us aren’t very good at it. It’s like keeping track of a lie–it takes a lot of mental energy to keep track of who you are supposed to be when you’re pretending. It’s much simpler once you figure out that there will always be people who don’t like you no matter who you are. Some people won’t like the real you, others won’t like the pretend you. You can’t make everyone happy. If you cut out the pretense, and stop worrying about who doesn’t like you, it all gets a lot easier.
Some people have a public and private persona throughout their lives. I don’t know where they get the energy to maintain the duality. I have a hard enough time just maintaining one moderately flawed self. Having a second personality for public use, like a politician, just seems like too much work. Do I swear like a sailor when I’m out in public? No, like everyone else, I do have to moderate my behavior at times. I try to maintain at least a shallow coating of professional veneer at work, but I’m mostly “myself.” Sometimes I have to make an effort to talk more and swear less. But to have a distinct personality that you deploy when you’re in public? Maybe it’s easier for those people than just being seen as socially awkward. I’ve never understood it though.
Then again, I’m such a dork that I can’t even sit next to a stranger at a dinner table and make civilized conversation for an hour or two.
Potayto-potahto, I guess.
Mr. Politics is probably just muddling through as well as he can. Just like I am.
Or he has no real soul, and just pulls on a handy skin as needed to distract people from his real self.
I suppose it’s not really something I need to worry about!