just briefly: tipsy at 7pm after happy hour

A couple of classmates and our teacher went to an English Pub in Milan after a long day... you know, for that authentic Italian experience...

I hate that: when a social situation you anticipated doesn’t go the way you planned. I hated seeing M, our teacher (meta-teacher, really) sitting there, coat still on, eyes roaming to the football on tv, barely talking, only there because it was “work.” I mean it’s nice that he came out at all as a friendly gesture, but I hate feigned affection, anything that isn’t genuine. I worry enough about how true friends are anyway. I hate it now when social situations feel awkward. Maybe because I was that shy link in the chain for so long, it makes me uncomfortable to see others acting that way; and I often can’t understand why people are still shy as adults since I have changed so much. I’ve felt I had to to function in the adult world. It’s funny how much I’ve changed, and I only notice in moments like this, when I can’t look back clearly.

Tommy told me, years ago now, that I was a little bit quiet when we went out with his friends, and I did always really have to make an effort to try to talk to them. Now there would still be the language barrier, losing me for long stretches of the conversation, but I think my natural inclination would be to be chatty with them, try to find things out, to try to be humorous or fun in any way, since sarcasm never works for me in a second language. Yet, as I’ve been discovering in different ways, again and again, being stripped of the comfort of that normal personality trait can actually make functioning easier. It makes it easier for my instinct to be getting involved rather than on the sidelines. Well I hope so anyway. I think so.

Yet the further I get away from shyness, do I sometimes feel like I’m losing something of myself? Particularly because with my new pseudo-confident, optimistic, at times bubbly self, I still don’t like to show my vulnerabilities to people. So they assume that I don’t need their help and support. But really I’m desperate for it. Any time I have to pretend everything’s fine and calm seas, if I have to put on a fake smile, any discomfort or sadness inside of me bubbles up. I barely make it until I’m alone again before tearing up. The highs and lows all at once, involuntary. I think this is the kind of vulnerability, living right on the surface, that we all try to avoid, but we also want.

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3 responses to “just briefly: tipsy at 7pm after happy hour

  1. It sounds like you’ve come an incredibly long way and have won quite the battle with shyness. I think one of the greatest challenges in life – no matter how outgoing or shy one is – is to be our true, authentic selves. I know that sounds super hippy dippy, but I believe it. Being our true selves means being vulnerable and risking hurt – when we get slashed while in that state, damn it hurts! But the joy from being true to ourselves is an amazing high. I know I am working on this one all the time.

    Thanks for the post. Definitely got me thinking.

  2. You know, your closing paragraph in some ways sums me up to an extent that I don’t normally admit to people. People see me as ‘happy’ most of the time so when they find out I have another side more set with unhappiness and uncertainty they are a bit surprised. What I will say is that while I still have something of an issue with letting my guard down with most people, it’s nice to have a few friends that know me, all of me, and with whom I can talk to without holding anything back. Like Rebecca before me said, if we don’t allow ourselves to be completely open, there’s a massive chunk of life we’re missing out on, and you don’t want to be looking back and regretting when you’re older.

  3. It’s one of those things we all know, logically, isn’t it, but we forget to remember it in the every day: that apparent confidence can mask insecurity, happiness can mask pain and fear. We forget that the people who seem immune to self-doubt probably go around every day just wanting to be liked, too. We know it, but most of the time we still take people for their surface value, even when we’re trying to be their friend.
    In my case I don’t think it’s a conscious attempt to seem invulnerable; but it’s a defense mechanism as much for myself as anything to keep calm, and seem unfazed by things. If i let myself outwardly get nervous or worried, I have a harder time keeping it together. But those hidden layers can be easy to miss.

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