Is the title of this blog totally cringe? It’s worrying me a little. Will people think I am trying to be cool. God, that’s so not-cool. That word – cool. I say that all the time. What must people think? I’m the epitome of not-cool…and I seriously need to chill.
I wouldn’t say I suffer with social anxiety as such. Because it doesn’t stop me – socialising, talking, posting, blogging, shouting about my most embarrassing thoughts and feelings. But there’s something in it. As on reflection…
I was at a party last night. An 18th. You think teenagers are awkward? Nope. All the ones I know appear to be really comfortable in their own skin. Two decades after my own 18th and I still want to wriggle right out of mine sometimes. 18th birthday party last night – case in point.
As a child, it could take an age before I dared open my mouth and ask my grandma for the pencil pot and drawing paper. And as a teenager, I could sit on a train and not contribute a single word to the excitable de-brief on the return leg of another Trans-Pennine record fair after bagging some rare Senseless Things vinyl. Until I discovered Taboo and lemonade that is.
I think that’s why I have a hangover today. Not taboo and lemonade. Red wine and beer.
How many people can relate to this?
Girl walks into a bar…
And forgets how to say anything remotely interesting. (sorry if you were expecting a joke – I can’t recall a single one).
Do you get that? Sometimes, you walk into a room and totally nail the small talk. Then there are times when you either trail your sentences off early for fear of tumbleweed or just keep filling the gaps with random statements that mean nothing.
Hull Truck Theatre green room. Another case in point. Chris Connel is in there. Nobody else, just me and him. O.M.G. This could be it. We could be sharing a drink and a Golden Virginia roll-up in Lamp in a matter of hours. I smile nervously, take a deep breath, point at the TV and say: ‘Neighbours is on TV.’ First thing I ever said to him. (I believe the second thing I ever said to him was ‘I found a butternut squash at the back of my wardrobe’. Nice). Despite being challenged in the small talk department he still married me. For some reason.
I actually talk far too much most of the time. I am renowned for it. I am an ENFP (Myers Briggs personality profiling – look it up. It basically means I share. A LOT). I was once described by a very good friend as ‘like a spaniel – one full fat coke away from licking someone’. Excitable, giddy, noisy. But not all the time.
Sometimes, for no apparent reason whatsoever, I forget how to be interesting. I even stumbled over my words with my other half last night. It was one of those moments. Absolutely lush company, but until I was half a bottle of shiraz in I thought I was beiger than a korma. Yet I’ve been in the same company and had an absolute riot stone cold sober many times before.
And of course, this morning. I get THE FEAR. The shiraz-Peroni-muscadet fear. Was I a pain? Did I behave? Did I appear awkward? Did I upset anyone? Did I embarrass myself? Did I go to bed quietly? (yep, the poor man is still putting up with me).
Apparently, unbelievably, I did him proud.
Social media doesn’t help either does it? Not only do we have to appear vaguely interesting in public, we now have to compete with our Facebook friends’ vaguely interesting status updates 24/7. I swear I have so many ongoing conversations in whatsapp because I will say something in one, then check in with one of the group members in another to ensure I didn’t offend anyone, upset anyone or embarrass myself.
And Timehop? The work of the social anxiety devil. I don’t want to be reminded about what witless status I wrote all those years ago. Take today’s for example. Four years ago, Monday, 11.12pm on Facebook I decided that the world needed to know that Lucy ‘is rather partial to a traditional chelsea bun.’
I read a lot. I watch countless documentaries. I find my job fascinating. I’ve met lots of different people from all walks of life. I’ve travelled. I’ve leapt out of a plane. I’ve trekked up an active volcano. But apparently none of that is as interesting as Lucy ‘has eaten too much and hasn’t left the sofa since’ (Facebook, 9th November, 2009).
Perhaps social media is to blame for some of this. It gives us a moment longer to consider what we are saying to the world. So we spend ages editing it, crafting something we hope will be seen as intelligent, amusing or deep and meaningful. Then we step into a bar, have to speak instantly, to real people, in the flesh, and so we trip up over our words as we try to find the perfect opening ‘status’ to acknowledge our arrival.
For me, though, it’s a mix of lots of things I’ve told myself over the years. Facebook didn’t exist when I hunted out rare vinyl at record fairs. And my English teacher was most taken aback when I announced I was taking drama GCSE all those years ago. I’ve always been a peculiar mix of incredibly shy and extremely talkative. In my late teens, I was happy to dance on the club podium in a PVC hot pant spacesuit in return for free entry, but I shied away from the chatter in the chill out room. I lose my confidence if I’m not the centre of attention, but then regret my behaviour if I am.
Is this social anxiety, or some lightweight form of narcissism? Because narcissists probably have the least confidence of anyone we know. But you probably wouldn’t know it (seriously interesting book to read – The Narcissist Test – not sure what my husband was trying to say when he bought me that for Christmas?!).
So, once again, I’ve talked. A LOT. So I better sign off now. As writing on social media about myself all the time might appear just a trifle narcissistic. But for now, I will pretend I’m OK with that.