Humans are social creatures. It’s important for us to feel a sense of belonging. This fundamental need drives us to seek company; to form meaningful relationships with others; to engage in conversation. Essentially, we seek to make a human connection. A disconnect can lead to social isolation, loneliness and depression.
I struggled with my sense of identity and belonging throughout childhood and early adulthood. I was an extremely introverted child and shied away from people. I wasn’t able to effectively communicate and therefore, I found it difficult to make friends.
As a grown-ass adult, conversation still doesn’t come easily for me. Unfortunately, I’m also awkward as f#@k. Random sh!t just comes out of my pie hole. On the outside, I might look aloof and confident but on the inside, I’m a jumbled mess of insecurities that could rival that of a fifteen-year-old teenager. My six-year-old daughter has more pizzazz and social skills than I do. It’s really embarrassing. Luckily my friends accept me for who I am, flaws and all.
Recently, I met a mother of a child in the same swimming class as Mandy.
“Hello,” I say to the woman sitting next to me.
She gives me a welcoming smile and asks, “Which one is your child?”
“Oh Mandy,” I say, pointing at the rambunctious girl doing cannonballs into the pool and getting told off. I roll my eyes. She has a few minutes until class and still manages to get in trouble.
“You’ve got a lively one there,” she laughs.
I giggle. “You don’t know the half of it!” Mandy is my Little Miss Independent.
Lisa, the woman, is a talker. This suits me just fine as it prevents any outbreaks of verbal diarrhoea.
“Breanna does choir, ballet and swimming on Saturdays. She does Japanese, tennis and piano during the school week.”
“Oh Mandy does piano,” I cut in. It’s been a while since I contributed to this conversation and I don’t want to look like I’m uninterested.
“Yes, piano is so good for the brain. Breanna has done it for a few years now. She’s excelling at the moment. Did you know that music makes children smarter? I’ve listened to classical music since Breanna was in my tummy.”
Lisa rambles on and on. I don’t think she’s paused since we started talking. How does she do that? She must have huge lung capacity.
I give a noncommittal grunt as I watch Mandy attempt breast stroke. I’m so proud that she’s giving it a go.
“And of course, I had to speak to her teacher about the girl not inviting Breanna to her party. It’s just not acceptable in this day and age.”
I realise I’ve zoned out and give a mental heave to refocus on what Lisa is saying.
Does she realise she’s monopolising the conversation? Is she a nervous chatterer? Is it possible that someone is more socially inept than me?
Our girls hop out of the pool and rush over to get dried. Lisa is still talking. I hear ‘coffee’, ‘next time’ and ‘see you’. My brain connects some imaginary dots.
“Yeah, I’d love to,” I reply, stuffing Mandy’s things into her swim bag.
Lisa gives me a wary expression and leaves.
“Mum, why did you say you’d love to when she said ‘see you’?” Mandy asks me, confused.
“Lisa asked me to go for a coffee next time she sees me,” I say, a little uncertainly.
“No she didn’t,” Mandy scrunches her brow. “She said she needed a coffee next time, and she said see you.”
“Oh.” That explains the weird look then.
Yes, I’m socially awkward. Yes, I say random things. Silver linings people. I’m pretty awesome at listening… most of the time.
Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.