November 7, 2008

ACTUAL Part 1 of The Popular Girls

It’s a euphemism.
They aren’t really popular. (I think I am past the age group that actually has a thing that can be called “popular girls.” With a straight face, anyway. Dearest God, I HOPE so.)
SO they aren’t actually popular, and sometimes, they aren’t even girls.

The popular girls is what I call the people in a NEW place--- new city, new church, new school or job---that I think or hope will end up being my friends. They seem kind and fun and smart and quirky, and I want to hang out with them. I know eventually, if I stay in the new place, I WILL be comfortable with all of them and friends with some of them, but just then, in my newness, I don’t see how it will ever come to be.

I am SHY. (Shut up. I am TOO. I am shy on the inside, where it counts, SECRETLY.) People laugh when I say that because I am also terminally loud, but you can be loud and shy at the very same time. Trust me. When I am the new girl, I feel like a stork in a department store. The me-stork does not have a Macy’s card or opposable thumbs, and I do not belong. I feel that ANYONE can tell in a GLANCE that I do not belong, and they are all irked that I have showed up at ALL because I seem like a flappy thing that will break the fine china and drop storck poops and babies all over the sale racks.

I hate being new. It’s like all at once, my skin doesn’t fit on me properly. I twitch around inside it, trying to unrumple it and have it lie flat like a proper skin.

The popular girls are all already set in their comfortable routines and slots and friendships, and I have to either find a place for myself, or move on. If I see a place I might fit, people I might really get along with, my immediate response is become COMPLETELY unable to speak to those people. AT best I sneak around the edges of the conversation, leap in to deliver a funny oneliner, and then my puffy tail goes bouncing over the hills and away. The more I like or admire someone, the less likely I am to be remotely comfortable around them.

I have learned that, if I leave it up to fate or sit waiting for people to come sit by me and take me in, it never will happen. My shyness often looks like stuck-itty uppity-ness, my awkwardness is a sign that reads, “HI! I DO NOT LIKE YOU! MOVE IT ON ALONG, BUB NOTHING TO SEE HERE.” So, when I go to a new place where I am going to spending significant amounts of time and energy—church, town, job or school--- I have learned to PLAN to make friends. I gird my loins up and FORCE myself to say pre-thought up opening lines as if I am Sara Jessica Parker (circa Square Pegs, not Circa Sex and the City, which is a whole another kind of popular girl. *COUGH*)

GAH…. I meant to make it sound LESS freakish than it actually is by giving you A Brief History of Popular Girls---putting it in a context, you know? But I will have to do that next time, as I have to run go teach.

So cntext free, I will simply say, if you want to STICK in a new place, it’s vital to have a posse. Isn’t it? I feel SUPER weird telling you this, because I think it is a SUPER weird thing to do--- I plot to make friends the way ninjas plot to assassinate people, although mercifully with less innards. Other people seem to just NATURALLY manage to connect to folks, but I never have.

Does it make more sense if I add that while I may be utterly inept at naturally MAKING friends, once I have a threshold of comfortableness with folks, I am good at HAVING friends? Or no? Are you all looking at me like I am Chandler on Friends, that time he confessed to having a third nipple?

IT WAS A NUBBIN. LEAVE CHANDLER ALONE.

Posted by joshilyn at November 7, 2008 8:26 AM
Comments

oh my, I totally feel like that, except when I deliver my funny line it tends to fall flat and I stand there like a total dork for a while before wandering off. that and I've not been bright enough to PLAN to make friends.
and why is it the more you think you want to make friends with someone the harder it seems to be?

Posted by: elizabeth at November 7, 2008 8:50 AM

You and me both, Pretty Tulip! I'm still looking at the "how do I find people to make friends with?" issue in my new place and I know exactly what you're talking about.

Hugs!

Posted by: Beth at November 7, 2008 9:19 AM

I'm with you up to the planning part as well. I have the outside circling and the stork feeling down pat. If I do happen to find a person to connect with, my concern is that I glom on. Then I worry whenever we are together - Am I glomming? This is, of course, not something you can ask the person because a nice person would never let you believe you are glomming even if they would rather be moving on to someone less storky. So I start to avoid the person I really got along with so they aren't put in the awkward position of trying to get rid of the glommer politely.

Thats why I live inside my computer.

Posted by: Em at November 7, 2008 9:44 AM

I think that a lot of people feel that way, but it is hard to see it from the outside.

My best friend and I worked in offices on either side of a wall for a whole year before we became more than passing aquaintances. And even then it took us both a huge leap to be willing to share a 3 hour ride to a weekend conference with someone we didn't know very well. We started talking when we got in the car, and by the time we got to our destination we were best friends and have been ever since.

Posted by: Jill at November 7, 2008 9:54 AM

Don't you know that we all feel that way about you? We want to be BFF and, if we come to see you, we want you to know that we are the BF from the internet -- can't you recognize me from my screenname [that I don't have displayed]? And then, if we calm down enough, we (I certainly wouldn't be talking about me) realize that this isn't how life works. And we are just happy that we got to see you and listen to you read.

Posted by: hollygee at November 7, 2008 10:02 AM

I am totally shy on the inside too. In a job interview this week, the woman was praising my personality as being outgoing, and I wanted to say, "Me? But I'm an introvert!"

Posted by: ccr in MA at November 7, 2008 10:27 AM

The loneliest thing about feeling something like this is that you're (okay, I'm) always convinced nobody else feels that way. I have this same problem, and I do the same thing to (sort of) solve it.

Posted by: Aimee at November 7, 2008 10:41 AM

I like to stand around on the edges of conversation, too, but most of the time I never get up the courage to actually say my funny one-liner. I usually end up seeing if I can find someone flashing a nerd gang sign and try to strike up a friendship with that person. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.

Posted by: Leandra at November 7, 2008 10:47 AM

You don't have a third nipple do you? Well you certainly don't seem like one who does. It's better to plot to make friends than it is to prepare to have people not like you. *nodnod*

Posted by: Lia at November 7, 2008 11:49 AM

I am SO the same way. I grew up as an Army Brat and was ALWAYS the new person. Thankfully, after a year or three, we moved on and I could give it another go. People thought I was stuck up (I was shy) and people can't believe I'm shy (inside, in secret, right?). Now that I'm much older, I've learned to just jump in, probably because I have learned that even if you make a fool out of yourself, it is rarely fatal.

Posted by: pecabo at November 7, 2008 12:48 PM

I too am in the club of "Shy But Talkative So When She Doesn't Talk She Seems Stuck Up" club. I have learned to cope more as I've gotten older. BUT, the thing that I hate most is when I actually TRY to be friends with someone, and part of the time you act like we are actually friends and you actually like me, and then the other part of the time you are distant and polite but I can practically SEE the wall you have put up between us, well what the HELL! Either like me or don't, but this back and forth stuff just keeps me off balance. And it HURTS. And it makes me MAD. And I don't UNDERSTAND it. So I tend to want to ASK you WHYYYYYYY. Usually I restrain myself because those conversations rarely end well. You either make the person defensive, or they get all "oh no, I have no idea WHAT you mean, I like you fine and I am the same all the time and you are just imagining it really really we are just great" while all the time you can sense that they just want to get AWAY from you. Arggh. I would much rather you either like me, all the time (even when I annoy you), or NOT like me, all the time, instead of me never knowing which person you will be next time I see you. I don't think secure popular girls have this problem . . .

Posted by: Gail at November 7, 2008 1:15 PM

anyone who can make a relevant "friends" reference is one of the cool kids in my book!!

Posted by: Trish at November 7, 2008 1:39 PM

I am also shy and loud and no one believes that I am shy, either.

Posted by: Nancy at November 7, 2008 2:15 PM

You are precious and we all like you very much. Seeing as how we kind of don't count though, I totally understand and say to you that MOST of the people I know DO have at least a strategy for making friends in a new place whether it's being loud or funny or obnoxious or silently sitting and hoping one will fall into your lap.

I changed churches about 4 years ago from a place I had gone for 13 years. It was hard--still is--and it took awhile because even though you plan to spend a lot of time and energy there, you are only there a couple of times each week. And then you are normally sitting and listening to other people do things. I also find it is intimidating to land in the middle of a group of women who all had babies together--were pregnant together--held showers for each other--sat in the nursing mother's room together. That forges a bond that is hard to penetrate and sometimes seems exclusive. I know it seemed that way to new gals when they came to the church where I did all of those things. They said we all seemed so tight--there were no gaps through which to squeeze--though I know for a fact we never meant to be exclusive. We were just bonded by stretch marks and incontinence issues.

I am glad you have a plan. Go forth and conquer.

Posted by: Roxanne at November 7, 2008 3:19 PM

I'm tremendously slow at making friends. Your stork analogy was hilarious. (I'm more of a rhinocerous, personally - heaven forbid I have to turn around or back up or, you know, speak.)

A ninja plot, eh? I never thought to Plan a friendship, but maybe that's the problem! Why didn't they teach us things like this in school?

Posted by: Holly at November 7, 2008 3:32 PM

am i the only one who is wondering if this has anything to do with the infamous pink socks tease....

Posted by: dramamama at November 7, 2008 3:58 PM

I am confident in my KNOWLEDGE, so I would always speak up in class, but I was never very good at impressing peers.

Now that I am in the adult world, I still feel like I can impress all the REAL grownups (I am not one, and think some days that I never will be.), but still have the need to be quiet and mouse-like around people like me.

And yet people laugh at me when I say that I am shy.

Posted by: erinanne at November 7, 2008 5:14 PM

No startled looks here.

Shy is often misunderstood.

Posted by: Lisa Milton at November 7, 2008 6:34 PM

I so could have written this post.. but it wouldn't have been nearly as fun nor would it have contained stork poop.. but this is EXACTLY the way I feel. Usually instead of planning to make friends, I force an old friend to go with me.. and then we laugh and giggle so everyone will see how cool I am, but unfortunately it just makes me all the more unaproachable because apparently I already have friends. I have to say it is wonderful to know that someone that I would have considered the queen of all social interactions feels the same way.. well it does wonders for my soul. If you are ever in Oklahoma and need a friend, let me know... I'll be the unaproachable one who really just wants to be that friend.

Posted by: Melanie at November 7, 2008 7:32 PM

EXCELLENT Friends reference. :)

I'm the exact same way.....except I can rarely think of a good one-liner to work my way in with, and when I do, I am so proud of it that I have to repeat it to my husband fifteen times.

Posted by: Julie at November 7, 2008 9:05 PM

You were easy to talk to when I met you. Were you just acting then? 'Cause we had a blast with you, did Tammy and I.

And if you use that tour-persona a bit, you'll break the ice just fine. Unleash that glorious smile of yours and any walls will melt like butter in the Georgia summer sun. Promise!

Posted by: Fran at November 7, 2008 11:41 PM

Oh that's different, Fran, don't you think? I AM pathologically social, after all, and tour is a VERY lonely thing.

BUT! The stakes on tour are very low. We happened to work as well in person as we do on paper, I thought, but If we had NOT cottoned to each other, then that would have been sad, but the very next day I would have gotten on a plane and flown out of your hair and across the country. We do not see each other every day and work together every day...I am talking about finding ones permanent place in a new job or neighborhood or Church.

AND ANYWAY...I already SUSPECTED strongly that you liked me from all the emails we had exchanged where you said things like,"HEY! I LIKE YOU." So, there was that. *grin*

Posted by: Joshilyn at November 8, 2008 5:55 AM

I still do that nervous circling-stork-with-one-liners thing even with people that say they ARE my friends, I don't know why they put up with me. Pomegranite martinis help.

Ever take a Myers-Briggs personality test? I had to do the full one for work once, and on the Introvert/Extrovert section, I got 100% Introvert, not one answer even looked in the direction of Extrovertism (sure, that's a word!). So I can't even pretend to be loud.

Maybe I should get Leandra to show me those nerd gang-signs.

Posted by: Brigitte at November 8, 2008 7:07 AM

I am totally like that, except I am shy on the outside too, so I am all silent and clumsy and blushy and strange. I have lived in this town for seven years now, and I have ONE FRIEND.

But we are moving and I am now officially an Academic Wife who will have to make a Good Impression on Important Foreign People, and yes, I have been doing what you do: planning. Writing up small-talk ideas on a little piece of paper and putting it in my pocket and such, in an effort to conceal my dorkitude. Storkitude.

Posted by: alala at November 8, 2008 11:15 AM

Love the stork image! I'm also shy, but quiet so people believe it. My most recent step out my shell was to join the Atlanta Writers' Club.

I just finished "The Girl Who Stopped Swimming." As the younger of two sisters, you captured that dynamic perfectly. And you pulled some surprises!

Posted by: Paige Ridley at November 8, 2008 1:13 PM

I'm a Presbyterian, well somewhat, as much as I claim a label for anything. I won't officially joint the church because I don't want to be classified. Well, my husband is also Greek but that is neither here nor there. But I've grown up Presbyterian and we are pretty much the most friendly and accepting bunch around. If you are shy, just wait a smooch and somebody will suck you in and you won't have to do near as much work.

I've had to become a friend that makes the friends here. Well, mostly because I'm a Southerner living here in quasi-Yank turf. I've got a great circle now, but gracious did it take work. I had to knock on the doors, put myself out there, throw a few ninja stars on folks.

But boy, isn't it worth it! Gotta have friends, especially a few female friends.

Posted by: Going Crunchy at November 8, 2008 11:06 PM