I was thinking recently about my book and how eventually I'm going to have to (gulp) go out and meet people to market it.
I like people.
But they also terrify me just a little bit.
My people skills are sadly lacking. I'm socially inept. No. Really!
Say you meet a friend at the grocery store. Let's also say, for the sake of argument, it's someone you LIKE.
You chat for a few minutes. Then what?
How do you say goodbye gracefully? And WHEN is it okay to say goodbye? I mean, it's not like you're rushing off to save the world or anything. Nothing all that pressing about grocery shopping. How do you know when it's 'safe' to say goodbye without offending them?
Does this time line change if it's someone you know but don't necessarily like?
Now let's pretend there's a party.
Parties are fun, right?
Except you don't know anyone. Do you know what kind of anxiety this causes me?
It's easy to tell myself to grab a little plate of food or glass of wine or whatever and introduce myself to someone who looks interesting. But see, the problem is right now I'm lying in my hammock in my backyard (oooh, be jealous, it's glorious), so all my neurons are firing just fine.
But when I walk amongst other people (outside of immediate family) my brain cells become paralyzed. Complete cranial constipation. Like writer's block, only it stymies your ability to speak and think coherently.
Oh! And let's talk about NAMES! My cranial constipation is especially acute during the ten seconds I'm being introduced to someone. WHY is that? It's so humiliating having to admit to someone that you can't remember their name! Name tags should be mandatory at all social functions.
What do you talk to a stranger about? You see, the problem is that I'm deathly afraid of accidentally offending someone. You know, that an innocent question like, "are you married?" will result in wails, sobs, and gnashing of teeth because unbeknownst to me said spouse just ran off with the nanny or pool boy.
The thing is, I'm fine online! I can talk to complete strangers about anything online.
That's got to be because I can always delete that remarkably stupid comment and retype it.
But in real life once the words fly out of my mouth, I can't ever take them back. And they fly out with alarming frequency.
I hate talking on the phone.
And yet, I get compliments all the time at work for being so friendly and cheerful.
That's different. They're calling me.
All I have to do is be polite and they're happy.
But when I have to call someone else, I break out in a cold sweat I tell you.
My mind goes completely blank.
I usually have to write things down before I pick up the phone or I will NEVER remember a thing once they answer.
Oh, and I hate hate HATE talking on the phone if anyone else is hanging around to listen in. Then I'm sure to say something asinine because half my already depleted brain power is monitoring my audience gauging whether or not they're listening and whether they realize what an idiot I am being.
At home, I worry that I'm calling someone at a bad time. Is it too early? Too late? Too close to breakfast/lunch/dinner? What if they're in the shower? What if they're napping? What if they (fill in the blank)?
At work, I don't worry about bad timing so much. Most of the people I call are businesses waiting for my call. But most of the people I talk to are technical financial gurus who rattle off a bunch of facts, figures, or anecdotes like I know what the hell they're talking about when in actuality, I don't have a clue....but I'm too embarrassed to admit this so I just laugh in all the right places and fool them as best I can.
All this is misplaced anxiety, I GET IT. But knowing I'm being a nutcase doesn't stop it.
So, if you run into me at the grocery store...be gentle with me!
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