Updated: Oct 5, 2021
For me, something that is becoming clearer and clearer of late is knowing when to walk away.
I've always been relatively quiet and a tad shy when meeting new people, whether socially or at work. I was the 'hide behind mother's skirt' type until I got to know you and then, well, you'd be lucky if I shut up lol.
As a youngster I learned fairly quickly that those who shouted the loudest got more attention, and often what they wanted. Now this isn't me at all. I was the child in class who, when the teacher asked the class a question, would quietly pop my hand up and wait patiently to be allowed to speak. There were always children who would shout out the answer or would make ridiculous whimpering sounds until they were asked to give their answers. I guess this began the line of thought that if you don't shout out you don't get heard but this didn't sit well with me. I was 'Square Claire' who would do as she was told. As you can imagine because of this I was often overlooked and felt invisible. Was being loud the only way to get what you wanted?
As I progressed through school the teachers actively encouraged you to speak up and contribute to the class. I was happy expressing my opinion but still did so in a polite way.
As an adult, I noticed that being a so called 'extrovert' became fashionable. I remember attending group meetings or social occasions where the strongest, or should I say loudest, individuals would bellow over everyone else, going head to head with any other 'loudies' until their voice was the only one left to hear. Some would make brave attempts to take the floor only to be crushed by a vociferous opponent. It left me wondering why I was there seeing as no one spoke to me, they just shouted into the air.
Inner dialogue that often followed such occasions went something like this;
Crikey that was full on. I don't think anyone spoke to me after the first five minutes.
Well you were probably giving off 'don't talk to me' vibes
Nope. I was trying to talk to that woman next to me but she was busy trying to tell everyone about the time she forgot to wear knickers.
Hmmmm it was quite funny. You should've joined in
I did laugh and tell her she was funny but she seemed intent on getting everyone's attention and then the chap across the room started winding people up about their political views which isn't really a topic I chat about in a large group like that.
You are a snob!
No I'm not. I just didn't feel comfortable.
Listen how do you expect to make friends if you don't join in? If you sit there all quiet they will think your either judging them or are depressingly boring.
I don't see why I should have to bow to the pressure of being a certain way to be likeable or make friends.
You'll never get a good network of friends if you don't join in or speak up occasionally.
This would then lead to me trying to speak up, a pattern that has recurred many times in my adult life. I would feel strongly about something in particular and voice my opinion only to be told I was naive, ignorant or just plain stupid. Although I am good at sticking up for myself I found this whole thing rather disappointing and would regularly think how easy life would be just with my dogs and maybe a horse or two. At times I have wondered if I need to develop my social skills.
So what do I do? Do I become something I am not and follow the crowd?
Lockdown lows to Laughs
There's no doubt that lock down has made life harder for most of us. Trying to find work isn't easy and the media circus is draining. I have done my best to keep my chin up and feel positive that things will change for the better.
At the start, it was okay and I felt Lock down would be a breeze. I found online activities that kept me occupied and brought structure to my day. I was able to interact with people on social media which created a sense of belonging and support.
One big surprise for me was that I found a way to channel my daft sense of humour to make others laugh. This involved me getting in front of a camera which in previous months had had me sweating and shaking from nerves and fear of being judged. Although the first item was rather breathy I felt pleased with my achievement. Even more so when it made people laugh and helped lift their spirits.
This gave me a kind of 'high'. My quirkiness brought other people happiness and I was totally being myself too. Talk about feel validated
This was great and several other recordings flowed. It was brilliant. I loved the joy from the silliness and how my creativity just kept on giving.
But then circumstances changed. Fewer people were getting to see my sketches and so the feedback decreased significantly. Having said that please don't think I was doing it purely for the ego boost. I enjoyed making people laugh and that fed my enthusiasm to create more.
Even though the clips were short they took time and preparation. I would be lying if I said I did them all in a couple of takes and seeing as they weren't reaching people I started to feel deflated and created a blooper reel rather than making new sketches. I understood why the sketches were no longer being posted within our group so I popped them on my YouTube channel.
Time passed with projects popping up here and there and it all slowed down. I found I was following the group but feeling less and less of a connection. I persevered a little longer even giving a little push occasionally but then saw that I was no longer happy. Something didn't feel right and then came the lesson.
That Light Bulb Moment
I recognised that I didn't need to shout to be heard or be funny to be seen. It was becoming a competition so it was time to step back...it was time to leave the party and that's what I did. With no other feelings other than relief I left the circus and took time to find myself again.
It's so easy to fall into the part of performing, feeling that you need to up your game to be recognised but I was stopping this before it went any further.
Having taken a step back I relieved myself of the pressure to be checking my phone every second in case I missed something. Heaven forbid I wasn't one of the first to hear an update or yet another announcement😉 .
I have officially left the party and love it.
Self care is once again a priority.