Wow. It’s been a while. Quite a while.
Well, I did warn you all that I would probably post irregularly. Don’t know if this’ll be the beginning of another spurt or if it’ll be a single post before another long silence. Either way, I just have to get this out somewhere “safe” to get it out.
So here’s the thing: I love being with people. I love joking around. I love good-natured teasing.
But I also am very sensitive. And for all that I love people, I’m not very socially adept. Sure, I can walk around a crowded room and say hi to everyone there, compliment people, give smiles and handshakes and hugs, and just generally feed off the energy of everyone. I can also read some people really well, even right from when I meet them, and tell when they’re upset and might need someone.
I just don’t understand people. Not really. I love, as I said, the joking around and good-natured teasing, but I’m all too well aware that there’s often a grain of truth in that and sometimes I can’t tell where jokes stop and truth starts. I’ve had people tell me–in all seriousness and trying to help me, or just to be mean–that I was annoying because of one thing or another. So when people tease me, and especially when they tease me about those very things that I’ve been told I’m annoying about, I don’t always know when they’re just joking and when they’re serious. And I also can’t always tell this when people are teasing each other, and I want to step in and defend the person being teased. I am more sensitive to when someone is being teased and not taking it well, but if I step in and point it out, the person doing the teasing accuses me of being a kill-joy, and often the person being teased doesn’t want to admit to not liking it and . . . it basically just all ends up complicated and uncomfortable.
All my life I’ve just wanted to be loved, and sometimes I struggle to accept that God’s love is enough–but that’s my own battle to fight with (not AGAINST, WITH) God, and not something that other people should have to constantly keep in mind while they’re interacting with me. I realize that. But for all that I love people and want to just have friends, I constantly feel like I’m just annoying people. I’ve always studied other people, people who seem to fit in right, and seen how they joke around with people and how they interact, and tried to emulate that. Tried to take the good-natured teasing as such, tried to joke around and everything. I like joking and laughing. But my sense of humor isn’t the same as other people and I’m very sensitive. Sometimes it’s hard to know when I need to change something and when I need to just be who I am. When it’s a matter of being true to myself and when it’s a matter of needing to improve as a person.
For example: one person points out how much I interrupt people so I work hard to not interrupt. When I do accidentally interrupt someone (I don’t do it on purpose!) I have people tell me to stop talking, I talk so much, I’m so rude, I need to let other people have a turn. But then I see good friends interacting in the same way–interrupting each other, laughing and joking and not caring about the interruptions. And I wonder what it is about me that grates people so wrong.
Or several people say that I’m just constantly correcting people. So I try really hard and I feel like people make a point of correcting me all the time, but I’m not supposed to ever correct anyone. Yet I can never shake that image. Something about how I say things–even when I’m not trying to correct someone, but just adding to what they said–that makes people think that I think they’re wrong. And I can’t even figure out what it is so I CAN fix it.
Or when I’m asking clarifying questions or just sharing why I make a personal choice in my life, it seems like anyone I ever say anything like that to thinks I’m arguing with them. Or when I don’t take someone’s advice and they think I’m just ignoring them, when the fact is, I’m not just going to blindly follow someone’s advice. I like advice from several people and my own research to weigh all together and make an informed decision. But no matter how many people I know who do that, somehow from ME it becomes a slight or like I’m just arguing with and then ignoring someone, when all I intend to do is to ask clarifying questions and then ultimately make my own decision based on ALL the information I’ve gathered.
And the thing is, none of these–NONE of them–are isolated incidents. It’s just something about me that people seem to like when they meet me, but hate upon closer contact. Not everyone, of course. I do have some very good friends (some of whom will probably read this post). But overall, it seems like my social life is more riddled with misunderstandings and times I’ve rubbed people the wrong way, than it is with legitimate good interaction with a good friend.
I am in a group on Facebook with several people who have weird and fun minds like mine. But they don’t share one element with me: a love to analyze. I often get accused of being too logical, but it’s really not about logic, it’s about analyzing. Thinking. Which, contrary to seemingly popular belief, is not ACTUALLY a bad thing. I like thinking about reasons. I like thinking about possibilities. Sometimes that means thinking about logic. Sometimes that means thinking about nonsensical elements.
But when you’re in a group with a bunch of people who like talking nonsense, it’s the logical aspect that usually comes out. Just for the sake of balanced analysis. So, in that group, I have become known as the Vulcan. And one person in particular likes to tease me about being so super-logical. So today he posted a comic and asked if it was me in it.
Fact: I love that. I love her reasoning and logic. I love the thoughts behind it. And really, I don’t mind being teased about being this logical.
What I do mind is this: I pointed out that we’re all individuals and just because something enjoys a joke differently doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy it. To this, one person said that I make her want to crawl back into her hole, and another (the person who posted the picture) said that yes, we’re all individuals, I just happen to be an individual wrong.
Of course, they were both joking. I realize that. But I also realize that a lot of humor has a basis in truth. And at this point, I just don’t know how much was just joking around, or it just sounded like the funniest thing to say, and how much (if any) was based in truth. Do I actually annoy them with my analytical way of appreciating jokes? I can see how it could be annoying, but I don’t actually do it every time. And simultaneously, sometimes I’m annoyed by that person’s constant insistence on joking incessantly and never being willing to make a serious acknowledgement of something. It’s like he’s an actor who refuses to ever break character, until I don’t know if there’s anything under that character or if he really thinks that way. And I almost feel like he would see that as a success, but I think it’s detrimental.
So. Ultimately, we all have different personalities for a reason. Western civilization is so focused on how we’re all individuals, but I think there isn’t enough focus on how the individuality all ultimately works together. We should all be improving as individuals, but we need to recognize that sometimes the “problem” we see in someone else isn’t really a problem, it’s another part of the mosaic of humanity. For instance, the person I was talking about can be a reminder to me that sometimes it’s okay to just laugh at myself (something I happen to not be very good at). I can be a reminder to him that sometimes it’s okay to NOT laugh about something and to take something seriously.
And we can all try to remember that some things aren’t moral imperatives, they are, as my father-in-law likes to say, “Not wrong, just different.”