Monday 17 August 2015

SPEAK UP!!!....ooh I'm not sure I should say all this.

So, I had not realised how shy I am until the weekend just gone. This may seem a ridiculous thing to say considering the job I do and the fact that I am quite open in this diary about myself, but I am, I am definitely shy.

The catalyst for this, somewhat surprising, epiphany was my friend's baby shower. Before I go any further I have to make sure it is understood that I had a truly wonderful time at this fabulous shindig, I really did, but I did realise, with more clarity than ever before, that when it comes to group activities I am not a good participant.

I arrived early, well on time, and there were 4 others there at this point. Two were excellent friends of mine, the other two I had never met before but I knew upon speaking to them they were going to be wonderful people. So far, so good. I chatted, more so with my established friends, but we hadn't seen each other for a while so that's understandable, I then tried to include the two newbies with an inevitably derogatory comment about myself. This sort of behaviour is de rigeur in my world. Ingratiate myself to new people by airing my flaws before they spot them for themselves. At this point more people were joining the party and I became more and more insular. I had witty comments that would have added to the many conversations being had around the table but instead of voicing them I just repeated them in my head and we had a good old knees up in there instead.

The moment I realised this was an actual problem was when I dared to voice one of these witty remarks to the friend sitting next to me. Something about 80s pop sensation, Taylor Dane. Approximately 15 seconds later one of the fabulous women across the table from me said the exact same remark, cue laughter galore. I turned to my friend and said "didn't I just say the exact same thing to you? I really need to speak up" to which she responded, with love, "yes you do as I didn't actually hear what you said". Eek, what is happening to me? When I sing I have a pretty big voice so why can't I be more impressive vocally, in social situations, when I speak.

I say the following not to show off, and I think I am correct in saying it, I am an excellent companion one to one. If I am with good friends I can also function quite well in the company of 3 or 4, but after that my brain and voice do not connect. I become totally unmemorable and can seem boring or worse, aloof. The same thing happens when I deem myself less intelligent than the company I have the privilege of being with. I can't bring myself to offer much to the conversation. I hate talking about myself (I know, that must be a bit of a shock considering what you're reading right now) and find myself agreeing, or not disagreeing, with things I don't agree with (nothing big, just small, insignificant stuff I can't be bothered to discuss) or asking questions of the more intelligent human opposite me. Anything to not have to speak.

This becomes a problem when I start new performing jobs. I already know this is a problem in my professional life, I dread first days, nay first weeks, as I cannot match the outward excitement my fellow cast mates emulate even though, inside, I am doing cartwheels of joy. I get there in the end and I have made friends for life on most jobs I have done but I really wish I could muster the courage to stop being scared of saying the wrong thing. Chances are I would not be offensive with anything I am likely to say so why not just say it? That way I can find the like minded individuals early on rather than half way through the job.

This inability to communicate with new people must have an impact on my professional life and I would love to sort it out but I am actually more bothered about it affecting my personal life. The older I get the more time I spend on my own and I can't be sure if it is because I prefer my own company or I am too shy to try to make new friends or acquaintances. I have never been one for small talk, although I don't always want to talk about the big stuff either, particularly with strangers. Somewhere in the middle would be perfect.

So what is the answer. Do I accept that I am quiet/shy/socially awkward or do I attempt to prove the opposite? It is not as if I do not enjoy myself when with other people but I can't help thinking if I tried a spot of role reversal (in my head), and take on the mantle of life and soul of the party, I might find I have an even better time. I don't have an actual solution for this problem as yet but I know what the starting point should be: SPEAK UP!

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