Probably one of the most difficult things to gain liberation from because the feelings aren’t only from inside of you, but stem from others and their questions, actions, interactions. And even the feelings inside of you are probably, somehow, impacted by others. I was reminded of this the other night as I was having a discussion with my neighbors, who are nice people, but not like me. I am speaking in particular of the wife, who is a quite a bit younger than I, but apparently, much less reserved in communication patterns and basic , well, there is shit you just don’t ask people or press them on.
I admittedly do not do well with these types of people (not to overgeneralize but I guess I’m talking about what I consider borderline rude bluntness – not in the opinion category but in the “need to know” category). It is like people that ask you how much money you make within knowing you for 15 minutes. Where does that come from????
So, I guess I’m the talk of the valley at this point. Some woman bought the rundown farm that used to have the horses….oh, boy let’s go meet her and see what we can find out about her! Much of the talk, as you would suspect, is that I’m single. As in, I’m a single woman out here all by myself on this farm. Well, what on earth could I be thinking? There have been SO MANY questions. Are you married? Have you ever been married? Do you have any kids or anything? What are you gonna do here? What do you do for a living? And the always interesting - I’m not trying to be nosey or anything but ‘bout how much you pay for this place? These are all usually within the first five minutes of meeting and the questions come at you like rotten fruit thrown in the town square.
So, in addition to the usual questions, we got to the “where do you work” (I state the name of organization) and the “what do you do there” (I work in administration)…, she gets this squishy, frustrated look on her face and says “I mean what do you DO, like, what’s your job title?”
I was taken aback. There is the practical side first of all – I didn’t move here to talk about my work. WITH ANYONE. I moved here, in part, to get away from living my work on a minute by minute basis. To build a future, get out of the city, to be at peace and not to be reminded of it at every moment. And having just found out that she has a membership for her and their kids because they deliver fresh food to a couple of eateries on a weekly basis then go to the pool and how they got a great deal on said membership through an on-line homeschool group (we give discounts based on group size)…. I was just not prepped to talk about everything that is wrong with our parks while standing in the middle of a hay field attempting to TALK ABOUT HAY dammit. There is also the “me” side of the matter. The “me” side does not care what you do or what you title is. The “me” side wants to know what you believe and where your soul resides. And I deeply feel like I should be provided the same goddamn courtesy.
NOW, why I can’t formulate those words when on the spot I have NO IDEA but I stammered a bit and finally basically said my title, which verified for her that I run the place. WHY she needed verification of this I have no idea either. But, she looked satisfied, finally, with my answer and proceeded to compliment me on how well the staff handled the fact that the kiddie pool was not operational due to a major repair going on. Great. Remind me once again (even though it was paired with a compliment) how we are failing the great and super important needs of the public. Which, by the way, right now, in the world we are living in, I have MAJOR issues with - the idea that ANYTHING related to the privilege most of our customers experience in their daily lives means JACK in the whole scheme of things - but, alas, that too is a whole other post.
Here is my normal issue. It isn’t that I don’t have a voice. Oh, I can speak for sure. It is mostly that I was taught to be humble (and yes, kind, thank you very much Mr. McGraw) as well as reserved in the sense of there are just things you don’t ask people. Period. They are in the category of – none of your fucking business. Now, I am FULLY capable of saying – ya know, that’s really none of your fucking business BUT given the fact that that too is socially unacceptable, I go all deer in the headlights and get stuck on I can’t believe you just asked me that and then my mind goes blank.
The further issue is that IF I said the things in my brain what came out of my mouth would be considered even more rude than the question. As in the above. Or worse. Because, believe it or not from everything I’ve just relayed, folks find me VERY blunt. Abrasive sometimes even. And quite able to cut beyond the surface and get down to the very deep wow, that hurt points of a person that they try to hide. I tend to “know” people pretty easily. What makes them tick, what they REALLY want when they say something, what they are getting at with their passive-aggressive bullshit. The problem with this particular “gift” is that IF I speak what I think many times it won’t be pretty. In general, I don’t like it about myself and I try really, really hard to keep it contained, because, well, there really isn’t any reason to hurt people’s feelings if you don’t have to. Even if they are being complete morons. Which, god it seems to me more often than not, most people are.
So a good part of my social awkwardness comes from me trying to control myself, basically. And maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe if I just spoke freely I would never have to worry about the deeply cutting part of myself because if I just got out “ya know, that is too much information you are asking for so I’m gonna decline to answer that one.”... I’d be OK? Only, again, things don’t tend to come out like that for me. While that might be what I’m thinking, what comes out is “are you fucking kidding me did I ask you upon meeting you what you actually DO all day with your damn self after you kill chickens and read to your kids for the mandatory 2.2 hours on the educational requirement spectrum.”… And my mouth, once it starts, won’t stop so then I’m mean or unfriendly or prickly or whatever.
I think at least at work, there is an understanding of boundaries. Not always from the public of course but from other professionals. Even when conversations are pointed, for the most part, there is a set of unspoken areas that one does not go to. In general conversation, it seems, all bets are off and the norm is if you want to know, just ask. I’m not good with that. Meaning, in addition to not being good AT it I’m not good with it inside. Even in this day and age, some things are rude. Period.
So, liberation from social awkwardness apparently would take the help of others in that others many times create the social awkwardness. Given that, it is possibly folly to think that one could ever be liberated from social awkwardness. This makes me feel even more awkward because depending on even a minor fraction of sense from others is apparently a very misguided hope. Sigggghhhhhh…crawling back under my blankie where things are safe.