Sunday, 13 May 2007

Social conscience

What happened to spring?! I'm so cold! Plus I put the heating on yesterday and when we got up this morning we found a big puddle on the kitchen floor under the boiler, which is never good, so we are kind of afraid to put it on again, which means many jumpers and much shivering. And several pairs of socks.

I've really enjoyed being sociable this weekend, although I've seemed to manage to offend people left, right and centre - mainly Offended Flatmate (who is a bit sensitive if you ask me), but I've been coming back from these social gatherings and wondering how I did.

I often wonder this, ever since I was a kid and used to say stupid things around strange adults who used to come to our house a lot (usually my parents knew them, but as a kid they all look pretty similar), which I'm sure was embarrassing for my mum, but what do you expect if you put a kid in a be-polite-to-the-guests situation almost every sunday?! One such guest was a colleague of my dad's, and I always thought he was a bit weird...anyway he came back to visit when I was in early uni sometime and reminded me that he had come for lunch and I had kicked my brother under the dining table. Thanks for that, I thought, I really needed reminding of my ineptitude in social situations!

The thing is, I either talk too much, or I don't talk enough, or I don't follow the conversation closely enough and end up saying something really inappropriate. Once we had someone staying at our house who I didn't know and have not met since, but I was home for the weekend before some exams and was really stressed out, which always rids me of any social graces I still had. Anyway, I had seen my primary school teacher at some event or other and she hadn't recognised me, and I said later, 'oh, I don't care, I'll make more money than her one day anyway.' WHAT?!?!? Who was this monster who said that?! I don't care about money! It was such a ridiculous thing to say, my mother was horrified, I have no idea why I said it, and it still haunts me to guess at what this poor woman who was staying must think of me.

During third year of uni I got really depressed for quite a long time, and to be honest I don't remember a lot of those months - apparently I wrote a Cochrane review for a paper that one of my supervisors was writing, but I have no recollection of doing so. I basically hid in my room for about 6 months and avoided all forms of social contact, because it was too hard for me to smile and say 'fine thanks' when people asked how I was and I really wanted to die and not smile ever again. I stopped going to any events where there were lots of people, especially happy people - Place To Avoid #1 was the uni Christian Union, which, though I was an active member for many years, was always a place inexplicably full of perfect slim blonde (usually Irish) girls with perfect teeth and pearl earrings, and since I never really fitted in with these people to start with (my friends are an altogether more normal-looking bunch, who I love dearly - this means you, people who I know read this!) it took more effort than I had to smile back at them and say, 'yeah, fine thanks, six miracles in my life this week, how about you?'

I actually hate it when people ask 'how are you?' and don't listen to a proper answer - especially I hate it when people say how are you as they pass me in the corridor without breaking their gait, it's so pointless! But after a little experimentation, I discovered that as long as I smiled and nodded I could say anything and they wouldn't notice. I tried this out on a bloke I used to date (who to be fair was not noted for his observation skills), and when he asked how I was I smiled and said, 'pretty terrible actually, life is really crap at the moment' and he said 'oh, that's great, pleased to hear it'. Wonderful.

How did I get onto all this? Ah yes, social stuff...

Anyway, the main thing is that I spend a lot of time after social gatherings wondering 'how I did' - did I say anything disgraceful? Did I join in the banter/teasing of someone with too much gusto? Did anyone actually want me there at all?! Did I talk too much? And so on and so on ad nauseum.

I'm so much better than I was in third year, not depressed at all any more, but somehow this fear of social situations seems to be the thing that still lingers (along with some excess weight, thank you mirtazapine). I wonder if I'll ever shake it?

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