I won’t lie to you, I haven’t had the best time. It’s been what… a little over a month, and the only reason my nerves aren’t shredded is that I get to see my family in 3 days (YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW PUMPED I AM).
It’s not even about seeing my family, it’s more about the warm familiarity of a place that you know and doors that you can knock on to see faces that you like. Especially when your new home’s a city that’s notorious for being cold to immigrants and bitingly territorial about their culture (yeah if you’ve guessed it, you’re probably right. #datburn)
This post is going to be about how everyday’s a hustle, but how I don’t let it weigh me down.
I’m a blatant introvert, and have spent a LOT of time as an adolescent trying to quash it because I’ve always observed that introverts are thoroughly misjudged. My vehement introvert campaigning aside, I really want to share a few very basic, often overlooked things that can make a HUGE difference to one’s state of mind. ‘Cause let’s face it, moving out is nerve wrecking. Moving out when you know NO ONE in the city even more so. But hey, the more uncomfortable you get, the bigger the learning.
SO. What I did was. I smiled. That’s right. First day at work, and I gave all my social anxiety a swift shove and beamed out a sparkly one at the nearest girl. Granted she was taken aback, but it just instantly bumped me up from uninviting to totally approachable. One month later, she’s one of my steady friends here and I’m SO GLAD ’cause she turned out to be pretty nice overall haha.
Lesson learnt. When you’re out in the real world, a smile can really go a long way. I won’t be the first one to tell you this and I won’t be the last. Really. Fckin. Smile. It’s pretty great if you do it by yourself too, tricks your brain into thinking you’re happy. There’s a ton of research on why smiling is so awesome for overall health. If you’re anything like me and have a hard time connecting with people, smiling is the way to go!
Another thing I do is: I don’t try too hard. At socialising I mean.
Literally MOST of the people you’ll meet in a day are vying for some sort of recognition. Of approval. Ernest Becker explains this “urge for heroism” in his book The Denial of Death. Even Tyler Durden says
It is relevant because I’m trying to prove a point here that no-one likes being ignored. Some people try too hard though. DON’T BE THOSE PEOPLE.
Being authentic is… tricky. You have to be comfortable with the fact that you’re just you. It’s unrelative. It’s a perceptive vantage point; an orientation. Try to form a comparison with yourself and you’ll draw a blank.
It’s an incredibly liberating, untragic way to go through life! You don’t develop an identity that’s predicated on being a patchwork personality, you’re not an amalgam of your experiences or influences. You’re yourself.
There will be as many opinions of you as there are people, and it’s okay. You’re already different, you’ve to figure out how, and be more of that.
I’ll tell you how I handled it. The first few weeks we were all getting to know one another. We’re all fresh graduates, so being playful came easy to a lot of these guys and they quickly managed to form cliques. I was invited to join for lunches, but I just didn’t do that after the first few times because groups of people are utterly exhausting.
My peers assume I am inherently antisocial. That maybe I didn’t even like them. Even my choice of coffee has raised a few eyebrows because it’s different *rolls eyes*. Didn’t take very long to become ‘that’ girl.
All in all, being socially inept comes with its share of prejudice and raised eyebrows. It’s not easy being a loner (for the lack of a better word). But it is what it is. I compensate for any dearth of social interaction by calling up a few close friends. And I’m lucky my roommates are kind. Well… roommate, I don’t see the other people a lot. Just an occasional hi when they come home from work.
I’ve been honing this skill of not buckling to peer pressure and spreading myself thin trying to socialise right from my last year in college. Maybe it’s not the best thing to do, from a ‘networking’ point of view. But whatever it is, people that talk to me know I’m not a total grouch (unless I’m PMSing). That’s what really matters, I end up making friends that accept me for me. It takes time, but it’s worth it.
You can only go so far asking to get noticed, for whatever reason. But having a sense of identity at the end of the day really keeps you sane.
In my case, I don’t come home drained from the weight of engaging in pointless small-talk or gossip. A quiet day at work and a brisk walk in the lawn, with the crisp grass under my feet recharges me like nothing else does. (Ruger, the neighbourhood dog helps too <3). Even cooking meals for myself is extremely rewarding.
It’s always okay to do what’s best for you.
I want to elaborate this by sharing how I relate to the protagonist on Mr. Robot. Albeit the TV series has lost its momentum, but that one scene where Elliot breaks down and cries in his apartment because his loneliness got to him really struck a chord. Solitude and loneliness are two sides of a coin. Loneliness is crushing, everyone feels it at some point.
It’s never a bad thing to cry about it. Being vulnerable is a part of being the frail carbon-based lifeforms we are. Pretending to be a rock hard person with crumbling insides is the worst. Crying totally helps when you don’t have someone to hug. Hugs are the best man.
Another thing that helps is if you just offer to do little things for people that make life easier for them. Offer to pick things up for them on your way back, or even make an extra roti for them if they’re juggling too many things at once. Just offer, and see how they respond. Kindness is a language everyone understands. Bridge gaps with actions, words fade over time.
Gtg to bed before existential crisis creeps up on me.
Goodnight, sleep snug!