Archive for January, 2012

Several years ago I was apart of a book group that served as a great outlet for me. It kept me reading and thinking and interacting with a group of people that I came love.  Now that that group has been disbanded for a few years and feeling its loss, I decided to find another one.  I did find a group and joined it not knowing one friendly face or even one not-so-friendly face in the bunch.

You have to realize that I am not an outgoing person, that is – I’m shy, easily intimidated and will clam up in a heartbeat. And my heart beats pretty fast in uncomfortable social situations.  I’m a bit of a social misfit but I prefer to call myself a “wall flower” – sounds prettier and not so nerdy.  But a “wall flower” is a painful position to hold at times. All of us have to play some part in this world, I guess, and the “wall flower” has been my lot in life. In fact, I played a “wall flower” in one of my high school plays. I wonder how they knew that would be a good part for me. 😉

Back to the book group. I read the book which wasn’t great but interesting enough to keep me reading. On the evening of the meeting, I set out with book in hand.  Actually, I had to go because my dear husband basically shoved me out the door. He is encouraging like that. 🙂  So, out the door I went, kicking and screaming (only on the inside), feeling nervous and rather stupid about the whole thing.  On the way, I thought about how I would get out of my shell and be congenial and friendly and show interest in the other folks.  Yes, I rehearsed small talk on the way over. Very pitiful, I know.  I mean, I’m almost forty and can still feel as shy as I did on the playground in preschool.  Poor little social misfit, I mean, wall flower that I am.

I arrived at the place, easily spotted the group sitting in a circle.  I approached, smiling with great expectations.  None of the members spoke to me as I clumsily took my seat, but that’s okay because most were already absorbed in conversations with each other, and the others, well, they were apparently thinking great, important thoughts.  I believe this because they were staring intently out the window or across the room.  I generally don’t like interrupting people who are so lost in deep thought, but maybe I should have, especially since I had rehearsed such friendly small talk on my drive over.  I noticed after I settled down into my chair, that I was suppose to get a name tag from a table positioned between two women.  So, I clumsily got up, dropping my purse on the floor, and approached the table.  One of the women said, “Hi, what’s your name?” Yay!  Finally, someone is talking to me.  I told her and as she said, “It’s good to have you with us,” she checked my name off a list and looked away.  Oh, well.

It didn’t look as if I was going to be able to work on my small talk because the discussion started soon after I sat down again. The conversation was predictable given the background of the book about the wrongs man inflicts on his fellow men. It wasn’t altogether dull, but after about twenty minutes I thought the subject was exhausted. I started wondering what time it was, and how long they talk before going their separate ways.  After making my general opinion of the book known, I primarily watched and listened and wondered about these people.  I watched the more silent types wait for a chance to throw out their thoughts.  I listened to the dominating speakers who had a lot to say and said it repeatedly.  And I wondered – “do I fit in this group and if not, what kind of group do I fit in”, and “will anyone be friendlier after this is over”,  and  “am I the only one who is really tired of this conversation.”

After an hour the leader announced that they would be going to get a bite to eat for all those who wanted to go.  Now, I wondered, will they speak to me? (Absolutely no one had spoken to me other than the woman who checked my name off the list. No one had even made eye contact with me, or showed any interest.) I wondered if I should go out to eat with this group? Maybe they get friendlier over a bit of food. Don’t get me wrong – they were nice, normal people – just not friendly to outsiders, it seems.  So, I stood up, lingered a little while, waiting for a chance to talk to someone. Then after a few minutes, I smiled and silently said, “goodbye” and I imagined they said the same to me. But dang it all, I didn’t even get a chance to use my rehearsed small talk.  

But that’s life.  Some places you fit in and some places you are not even wanted.  I imagine this group has been together for awhile and for some reason they keep it open to new comers, but in reality they like the group just the way it is – and that is okay.  I will just look somewhere else and keep working on my social and small talk skills. And I think I will wear red next time!  I’m sure these people just didn’t notice me in my browns.



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