Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Glass Walls

I think the term 'introverted' fits my description very well, although over the last few years I would say I've been gradually improving. I love meeting new people, but at the same time I can feel quite overwhelmed when meeting a group of new people as opposed to meeting individuals, and can come across as being even more quiet and shy than I really am. I worry about talking over people, and often consequently can't get a word in edge ways!

It helps a lot when there's an interlocutor in the group: someone who is familiar with everyone in the group, and can subtly draw me into the conversation, and then, once the ice has broken, I feel able to talk freely. But what happens when the interlocutor is too absorbed in the conversation going on to fulfill this role? What if they are inattentive? What if there isn't an interlocutor at all? Then, it's up to me...

Sometimes I succeed, especially when members of the group show warmth and interest in what I have to say, making inquiries to extend the conversation topic further. I might come up with a question, or witty remark to submit when the conversation lulls and I can leap in with my contribution.

However, there are occasions where I can't think of anything appropriate to say, or there isn't a lull in the conversation for me to speak, and I grow tongue-tied. I listen attentively to what is being said around me, smiling and nodding at the right occasions, but unbeknownst to my 'companions', I find myself subconsciously constructing the glass walls that separate us. I begin to feel isolated and alien. This is more likely to occur when multiple conversations are taking place, and I am uncertain which I am invited to participate in, and consequently I find myself following them all, should I be summoned to contribute to any of them.

There may be an alteration after time. I may suddenly extract something from thin air, and succeed in charming an audience. One remark might follow another, and with each exchange I begin to feel more a part of the group. As I begin to know people, and they begin to know me, perhaps a connection is made, and something lifts within me. My self-consciousness lessens, and the walls begin to melt until they are no more.

Only on rare occasions do I find that the glass walls linger throughout the course of my time with a group. Today was such a day, or at least it was until the group dispersed, and I was left with one or two individuals. Only then did the glass walls show any sign of giving way.


Bethany Mason said...

I know exactly how you feel, I hate talking over people, and often in a group that I'm unfamiliar with I will start saying something but won't be heard and the conversation carries on around me. I become invisible. Sometimes, I have to admit, that this is all I want, but equally it's very frustrating and not good for the self-esteem when it does happen.
Sorry to hear you built a wall today (btw, love the title) and hope that next time you will feel more comfortable.

Kess said...

Thanks Bethany. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way sometimes.

It was originally going to be called The Glass Box, but I thought Glass Walls sounded better!

I started noticing the 'glass walls' a couple of years ago, and although I have tried putting pen to paper about them before, this is the first time I have succeeded in writing about them.