Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Those Pesky Social Anxieties

(I tried to edit this post for brevity because it was really long. And I did. But I also added a blurb so it's not really that much shorter. Sorry ;-)

I keep thinking that I ought to go to BlogHer; that it's good to be a joiner, to be a part of something; that it's a chance to have fun and hang with the cool kids (that would be you).

The fate of the world is not depending on this and it should be a really simple decision. But for me, it's not.

While I am not a classic introvert, it seems I still inadvertently fall into that general category. I'm not shy or antisocial by any means. I very much enjoy the company of others but after a lifetime of anxious discomfort in large groups, I worry, with good reason, about whether or not to spend an assload of money to go far away to get that horribly familiar feeling of being alone in a crowd. But what's worse than that is thinking, no — being certain — that other people can see how un-in-the-loop you feel. Honestly, the idea that all of you could just see right into my psyche and sense how embarrassed I am to be pathetically tagging along as a 24th wheel (well said, Kristen) is a horrid feeling.

Do you remember in grade school or middle school when the teacher would say "Okay, everyone find a partner and pair up"? Is there nothing worse than trying to find a partner and realizing everyone around you has already found one? And doesn't it seem like it's happening in semi-slow motion? And before you know it, there you are standing there with no partner and your teacher sticks you with the guy from the other side of the room that smells weird who also wasn't slick enough to pounce on someone. And just so you know, I really wasn't a complete dork or pariah like you might imagine. I generally had cool clothes , decent hair and a circle of close friends (and I smelled pretty good, too). I was just invisible sometimes because I didn't know how to navigate socially outside the confines of an intimate group. As I got older and away from the school caste system, I became much more savvy but still, even then, I had trouble when in the larger group and not within my cozy inner circle. This was a problem particularly when I was in the company of people I regarded as cool or superior to myself. (Big Sidebar: I actually dated an incredibly popular guy in 9th grade but when we got together with his unspeakably cool friends, I swear I couldn't think of a single clever thing to say so I just said nothing. Every Friday night was a mild form of torture. He eventually dumped me for a girl who was not a mute idiot)

Here's a parallel to the above that most will relate to... You know how when you don't really like a guy *like that*, you can be totally yourself; confident and flirty, and you don't even think about it at all? But when you're around a guy you like, you can't think of anything to say and you feel all weird and self-conscious and if another girl comes up and talks to him, you just feel like a stupid, uncool, unsexy dunce-y statue because you're just standing there without a damn thing to say and if you did say something it would sound hopelessly retarded so you just mumble something and walk away, hoping that you look better than you feel? Well...that's how I feel in groups (perhaps to a slightly lesser degree now that I'm all grown up, but still...)

One exception to the aforementioned is when I'm around people I totally don't care about. An example... This past Saturday I took my daughter to a birthday party. I knew all the parents there in passing because our kids go to school together. They're all nice but not what I'd call my peers. I am good friends with a couple of them but as a whole, I don't sweat this group at all. So I'm all funny and entertaining and regaling everyone like I'm a freaking celebrity and it's grand. This, however, is not the person you will meet at BlogHer. Why? because I like you guys and I consider you my contemporaries. I want you to like me so naturally I become the uncool, dunce-y chick referenced above and you all are the guy. The only way I can be comfortable is to have an intimate group to stick with. Not a clique but more of a safety net so that I never feel icky and 24th wheelish (or find myself wandering around all alone, covertly reading name tags trying to find someone I "know".) Pretty dumb, huh?

Part of me is thinking that unless I want to hear about Blogher for another year and regret not going every time, I oughta go and try to have some damn fun. But as always, I have these silly issues and it's really bugging me. I want to make up my mind before everyone pairs up like they did in bio class and I'm left standing alone, like the proverbial cheese.

As an aside... I have this vision of me going up to other well-known bloggers and saying "Hi I'm Izzy. I really enjoy your blog." and they respond with nothing but a stare and a polite half-smile, as if to say "Yes, but who the frig are you?" and then I pray for a rewind button right before I die of embarassment.

Tomorrow I will totally regret posting this but right now it feels good to vent and let it out. *big sigh*

PS: After fielding several requests for graphics and blog headers etc. I decided to gather up some that I worked on for various other projects and as comps and retool them as freebies. Take a look and say you'll put a button on your blog :-)


33 Comments:

  • Oh, my dear. I was sent to you today. I know it. The mighty winds of Blogher led me to you.

    YOU MUST GO! Because I've read all of one post of yours and I already love you! And because people like you who undersell themselves always end up being the coolest.

    Turn that frown upside down! (This phrase acually causes my daughter to cry.) We're going! And by "we're" I mean Kelly Nelly Nello, Vi, Renee, Leslie, Me. I know you have no idea who we are (except Kelly of course) but I promise we'll be funny and rude and wildly inappropriate and isn't that what being a respectable blogger is all about? You'll fit right in.

    Not to mention I need someone to shove into Dooce to get her attention when she walks by. LOL

    Go. Go. Go. Go!

    By Blogger Lena, at 3/22/2006 04:04:00 AM  

  • Izzy, I am the same way in social situations as you are. I don't want to feel like the outcast.

    You won't, and you know what. You will get to meet DOOCE (and Kelly Nello, she is wicked cool). Lucky, lucky girl.

    Go, go , go, go. And I can't wait to hear all about it!

    By Anonymous rhonda, at 3/22/2006 05:52:00 AM  

  • I think everyone has those fears at one level or another. I was always the one in college that had friends from here and there, but I was never the "original" friend - or the go-to friend - so inevitably, I got left alone - or I had to join the masses.

    So, while I don't feel as though I'm part of any particular group, I hope that someone will hang with me while I'm there.

    Oh and wear a lurker shirt. LOL.

    By Anonymous Kristen, at 3/22/2006 07:53:00 AM  

  • The Canadians... always getting left out. I want to be part of all the nervousness and social anxiety too!

    The thing is, in honesty, I think I would enjoy just sitting back and not having anyone know who I am.

    I would have little interest in trying to engage in a coversation with any of the popular bloggers because I don't read them. (With the exception of two people, who I had been reading for 3 years and just recently decided to stop... but I don't even think I would want to converse with those two)

    I like to be an observer. Anyway, I think it is neat that you are Krisen are going, and I am curious to hear about your experiences there. I hope you enjoy yourself and don't feel bogged fown by the "who's who" of it all.

    By Anonymous krista, at 3/22/2006 08:18:00 AM  

  • Lovely "buttons," m'dear!

    Why not compromise and come to B-List? ;)

    By Blogger Arabella, at 3/22/2006 09:00:00 AM  

  • kristen and i will be your safety net! and we're very uncool, don't worry. sometimes i pick my nose.

    By Blogger Mom101, at 3/22/2006 09:01:00 AM  

  • somethings telling you NOT to go. it could be the money, the time away from kids, the social anxiety (although you know you would probably have fun). but if you're anything like me, you only want to REALLY put yourself out there for the people YOU want to put yourself out there for. i have people come up to me all the time, they know me but i don't know them (no, i'm nobody special - my parents and i have a somewhat successful business and they're very community involved - it's by proxy) anyway, when people come up to me, it makes me uneasy. i like my anonymity/privacy. i have the handful of people i trust and love completely. so, it's my take that if you REALLY wanted to go, you would! think maybe you might feel obligated to go in any way? you're not. but, if you need a vacation, a change of scenery, a few irresponsibe, shelfish days, then good god go for it! if not, hang out at home with the babies and your guy and do your own thing! you do it so well anyway!

    By Blogger cameo, at 3/22/2006 10:14:00 AM  

  • I totally understand you anxiety. People who know me well, never understand when I get shy and intimidated in large groups. I am getting better, because I have to put myself out there for my daughter...If you want to go, ask other bloggers to meet up with you and tackle it together. Then you will have your own clique!

    By Anonymous chelle, at 3/22/2006 10:51:00 AM  

  • I can relate EXACTLY to how you react and feel - i have the same problems. I call myself a half assed extrovert LOL

    By Blogger Fidget, at 3/22/2006 11:41:00 AM  

  • Izzy, I think you will have a wonderful time and everyone will love you. :)

    Aw man, now I really want to go to Blogher too, but it's not looking remotely possible.

    By Blogger Jess Riley, at 3/22/2006 12:24:00 PM  

  • I know exactly how you feel. I'm not really shy, but I can be quiet in large groups . . .and I'm quite nervous about meeting all of my blog friends. I'm not going to Blogher, but a lot of my blog buddies are, so there will be lots of cool people for you to hang with. Really.

    By Anonymous Jess, at 3/22/2006 12:30:00 PM  

  • Hey, can I hang with you, Kristen and Mom-101? I'll try and not be inappropriate.

    (She says as she scratches her butt.)

    By Anonymous sweatpantsmom, at 3/22/2006 12:33:00 PM  

  • I could have written your post, Izzy. I was also the kid left standing - the last picked for kickball, even behind the diabetic kid with the coke-bottle glasses.

    I think we all get nervous about hanging with people we look up to. I look up to so many of the bloggers on my blogroll, and the thought of looking like an idiot or a midwestern hick to them (you included) is terrifying.

    But that's still not killing my desire to go to BlogHer. If I can find a way to get there, I really want to go and face my insecurities. I know I'd have a good time.

    By Blogger Christina, at 3/22/2006 12:52:00 PM  

  • i know how you feel too! This is a good post. Don't let that (insecure?)side of you take over if you really want to go to the Blogher thing. You'll probably be so glad you went.

    By Blogger Cityslicker Mom, at 3/22/2006 01:19:00 PM  

  • Izzy~ I got here by way of KatKat's blog. This last post you posted totally described me! For example, I've never really gotten the change to experience the whole "bar scene" (I became a mother at 16, and have had 3 more children in the 9 years since then; I got married at 19, you get the picture...)Anyway, a friend of mine recently begged me to go to a local bar with her and a few of her friends(who I know somewhat). Well, I felt sooo out of place with everyone as a group! I could've have had great converstaions and laughs with each person individually, but as a group, I felt like the biggest dork. And I read back to your post about 1993; in '93 I was in 6th/7th grade, I had braces and was trying to figure out what clique I fit into. My school was VERY clique-ish, which really sucked!
    Loved your blog~I'll definitely check back later! ~Emily

    By Blogger Emily, at 3/22/2006 02:25:00 PM  

  • I'm glad you posted this and left it up there. I feel similarly about navigating through crowds. I love my close group of friends, but when a gathering has more than 10-15 people I feel a little lost and must immediately find people to which I can cling. Mingling's out of the question, too.

    And you should totally take Lena up on her offer to pal around with you. I think she'd be great fun.

    By Anonymous Caryn, at 3/22/2006 04:15:00 PM  

  • I was the "Weinerdog" in Welcome to the Dollhouse. But that was Junior High and I try not to let it seep into my adult life. But we all still have that little person in us. Don't let it stop you from doing something you want to do.

    By Blogger Stefanie, at 3/22/2006 04:33:00 PM  

  • Hmm ... so I guess the only thing left to do is to have a contest over WHO is the most socially inept/awkward/rejectable, and since I won't be there, one of you is bound to win! :)

    Iz, you are so cool and I would LOVE to be able to hang out with you. I'd be your lab partner in a sec! I'd even do all the work. :)

    By Blogger MrsFortune, at 3/22/2006 06:12:00 PM  

  • Darling. We are the new in-crowd.
    I am telling you this is truth and surety.

    And see - Mom 101, me- Sweatpantsmom, Kristen, Nancy and lots of very nice socially awkward women will be there. And we can all swear together. I'll share my Ativan with you....

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/22/2006 06:57:00 PM  

  • Izzy, Daaahhling, you are too fabulous for words and, once you get there, everyone else will realize that too.
    You need to go and report back to those of us who are too chicken sh*t to go. Oh, and give Dooce a big kiss on her tall behind for me!

    By Blogger Mrs. Chicky, at 3/22/2006 08:11:00 PM  

  • We will BECOME the in crowd just by the sheer magnitude of our social ineptitude (hey, a dorky rhyme!) We will talk and laugh and snort and say silly things and have a great time. Promise.

    By Anonymous Nancy, at 3/22/2006 08:28:00 PM  

  • I wish I could go.

    As much as I love some of the big blogs, look at all the awesome people that are claiming to be socially inept. I don't buy it for a second.

    You ladies will have a blast...please be sure to blog about it for the rest of us. And take pictures.

    By Anonymous reluctant housewife, at 3/22/2006 08:59:00 PM  

  • Okay, I am going. And I am terrified! I would LOVE to hang out with you! Plus I'll be with Y (of Joy Unexpected) and she's a riot. Please come!

    By Blogger Piece of Work, at 3/22/2006 09:45:00 PM  

  • I was ALWAYS the person that ended up having the teacher as my partner. Every freaking time.

    Honestly, if I could go (which I CAN'T) I think I would feel stupid. I'd feel dumb or boring. Perhaps I'd say inappropirate things, which I tend to do.

    Then, I'd spend the next week over-analyzing everything I said to everyone and assuming all the worst.

    I hope you do go, if that is what you want. Make some friends, have some drinks and bring back gossip for the rest of us.

    By Anonymous sarcastic journalist, at 3/22/2006 10:06:00 PM  

  • Go since I can't (the guy thing) and tell me all the juicy stories. By my eyes and ears and take mental notes like a rookie newsreporter, then we'll blackmail everyone via the internet and become richer than Bill Gates. Or, just go because you will have fun and regret it for the rest of your life. For every wall-flower there is someone like me who will spot them and strike up a conversation. Unlike most, I like to listen.

    I wished I saw your graphic page earlier, I just purchased a package from a designer.

    By Anonymous Ed Bacchus, at 3/23/2006 12:40:00 AM  

  • I think all the cool kids are going, so you should definitely go! All us nerds will stay home and wait to here about all the freakishly awesome stuff only the it-crowd gets to partake in. Maybe I will be cool enough next year!

    By Blogger Bridgermama, at 3/23/2006 01:25:00 AM  

  • One exception to the aforementioned is when I'm around people I totally don't care about.

    I could really relate to that but in regards to my assertiveness. Great post.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/23/2006 02:06:00 AM  

  • You should totally go. A great thing about being a mom and blogger is how quickly we shed our thin skin.

    Besides, I want as many wrap-ups as I can get!

    By Blogger Carrcakes, at 3/23/2006 11:52:00 AM  

  • I just want to thank ALL OF YOU for being so damn cool and kind and wonderful. It's really amazing when people you've never even met manage to soothe a lifetime of anxiety. You guys are the best :-)

    By Blogger IzzyMom, at 3/23/2006 02:05:00 PM  

  • are you really me and I just don't know it yet? Because this is so me. Among friends when I am relaxed I am so outgoing and open, but with new people and groups, I am a basket case. And I think you're cool too - I'd hang with you if I weren't up here and you're... wherever you are.

    By Blogger kittenpie, at 3/23/2006 10:51:00 PM  

  • Izzy, I do know what you mean. I'm going. I will see you there. We will get you drunk and sing karaoke. IT WILL BE FUN.

    By Blogger mothergoosemouse, at 3/23/2006 11:12:00 PM  

  • Your banners are awesome. love 'em. Oh and at the risk of sounding like an idiot ~ i'm new to the whole blogging experience so I have NO CLUE what Blogher is.

    By Blogger J's Mommy, at 3/24/2006 09:32:00 AM  

  • I know just how you feel!!

    By Blogger cluelesscarolinagirl, at 3/26/2006 08:38:00 PM  

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