I’m twitchy around new folks. Like, I’m totally outgoing on one hand, and on the other hand, I worry about being too outgoing. I talk a lot about stuff that may or may not pertain to wherever I am. I swear. I have a raunchy sense of humor. I am prone to non-sequitors. I’m opinionated. All of these things make me vacillate between the Queen of Good Impressions and . . . uhh. Not. I’m always fretting people think I’m a weirdo who looks in bathroom windows or licks the exhaust pipes of cars for fun. I’m not, of course. I’m just friendly. Puppy friendly. A snarling, psychotic puppy.
So combine my personal hang ups about how I present myself to new people with a new job, and you have a recipe for . . . something. I don’t know. It’s not a disaster — not even a little bit — but it’s definitely a level of self-awareness I’d rather went away. If I didn’t care what people thought of me, I’d be a sociopath, yes, but I’d probably be a happy sociopath. I could be the Czarina of the Dipshits and let my Freak Flag Fly and life would be swell and dandy. As it stands, when I’m at work I’ll occasionally crack a joke or make some smart-ass Hillary comment and promptly duck my head because I’m afraid someone around me is going to stare at me funny or ask what’s wrong with me. This may have happened once already when I said my lunch looked liked an autopsy.
Anyway, I haven’t always been uber sensitive to what other folks thought of me. I was conscious of it to a point, but I didn’t worry about it to the degree I do now. So I started mulling over WHY I’ve changed, and I realized a few things.
1) Locking yourself in your house for extended periods of time makes you FUCKING BIZARRE.
2) I’ve grown nicer over the years. No, really, I’m nicer. Before I was Attila the Hun.
3) I’ve lost enough friends to be scared of losing more.
Thems three big, honkin’ things up there, dudes. First on that list? Yeah, that’s how hoarders come to be. I totally understand how long bouts of alone time can screw with you. You are completely out of touch with any reality beyond the four walls surrounding you. You exist in your head SO MUCH, that trying to put yourself in other people’s shoes becomes almost impossible. Things that are relatively small in importance feel like monumental hurdles. It’s always about how you feel at the moment because you lose track of yesterday and tomorrow, so nothing’s in perspective.
I had Dave to buffer it some, and my friends dragged me out on Saturday nights to blow the stink off of me, but WHOA. Had they not done that? I’d probably look something like this:
It wasn’t a pretty time in my life, let me tell you. Sometimes, Lulu would look at me and I’d start blabbing at her like she was people. I’d have long, one-sided conversations with her while she wagged her tail and farted in my general direction because she probably thought I’d give her food. The worst part? I NEVER FOUND THAT WEIRD. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dog, but that’s . . . yeah, sorta not right. In retrospect, I was six months away from eating wallpaper paste and putting a gun turret on my house to keep strangers away. My faux-goal of being the creepy cat lady was a little too close for comfort, methinks, and maybe I should stop making that joke.
Parts two and three are sort of a combined thing, I think. I’m not nearly as angry as I once was, which is probably the result of extensive therapy (sessions with a real professional person, not with the dog), and I’m old enough to be wistful for things I’ve lost or abandoned. I didn’t particularly love high school, but I miss my friends from then and wish we could reconnect more without me being so fucking self-conscious. The problem is, I worry about that social awkwardness thing. I never feel like I’m as cool or as interesting as other people. I never feel like I’m living up to the imaginary standard I’ve set for myself. I’m not thin. I’m not super successful. I’m not the ruler of the free world. (Yet.) Logically, I know I have a decent job, a house, a husband, pets. I’ve got books under my belt and a lot of hot pokers in the pub industry fire. By most accounts, I’m doing pretty well, but I have this hang up that everyone will see me as a loud-mouthed, obnoxious failure. My minute clinic head therapist says I’m projecting, and minute clinic head therapist is right, but keep in mind . . . that’s essentially my imaginary friend talking, and we’ve already established I’m insane. Minute clinic head therapist should have a Twinkie and shut up.
The good news is (and the whole point of this long, bumbling post) that I feel better in general. I’m still angsty about the new social circle thing, and I will be for a while at work in particular, but hopefully with more vodka and less autopsy jokes, I’ll settle into a routine that I can be comfortable with. I can stop worrying so much about being someone people like and just be me, and hopefully the liking part will fall into line on its own. I do wonder if other folks get as freaked out by new people as I do, and the answer is probably yes, they just tend to preoccupy themselves with other stuff to keep the crazy at bay.
Because that cat rules.