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Sunday, May 12, 2024

Well, That's Awkward by Bea Tifton


I know I seem sophisticated and witty, Dear Reader, but I have two confessions. First, I know that first sentence was nonsense. Secondly, I am awkward. I am not on the autism spectrum, and I know the rules for social graces, but I am indeed awkward.  I don't make what I call "cocktail party chatter" easily. The reason is simple. I am painfully shy. 

When I was growing up, I was hampered by my shyness. Ironically, while I was often overlooked by teachers and peers, the bullies always found me. Since I was tongue tied and easily embarrassed, I was a helpless guppy in a sea of sharks. I did have friends, but most of them were shy, too. We just understood  each other. 

When I began teaching, I immediately realized I would have to overcome my shyness. I wasn't going to be a fake person, but I was going to have to fake being outgoing. I drew on my drama class training. Teachers must be able to talk to their students and to the parents of those students. I needed to appear confident and effective. So, even though it was hard, I learned how to talk to people, more or less, and how to ask questions that must be answered with more than a simple yes or no, then building on that answer. In my professional life, I did pretty well at hiding my shyness. But every profession has mean girls all grown up and they were never fooled. Sigh. 

It was still difficult to overcome my shyness in my personal life. And parties or events? I dread them. I realize as soon as something weird comes out of my mouth as soon as I say it, but it's to late to avoid the strange or puzzled looks I get. Recently I volunteered to help with an adoption event for a rescue I support, Highway Hounds of Texas. I was excited because my job was to play with the dogs, walk them, and answer any questions for would be adopters. I was nervous because I only knew a couple of people, the founder and her right hand helper. So, yes, I was a total nerd, I'm sure, but everyone was very kind and I'll do it again soon. 

I volunteer for a homeless program called Room in the Inn. Unhoused guests come to one of a consortium of churches and stay overnight during the hottest time of the year and the coldest time of the year and enjoy a home cooked meal, a safe place to stay, and conversation. Oddly enough, my job is to be a greeter, which means I sit and chat with the guests before, during, and after our meal. I talk and talk, and I've met some fascinating people with great stories. I've even assisted with training for new volunteers. How do I do it? I just go into teacher mode. It's too important a cause to take a pass on participating  and I've gotten so much out of it. 

So, if you need me to be professional and help you with an event or to volunteer for an organization, I'll just go into teacher mode and power through it, even enjoy it. And if you invite me to your party, I'll probably come. Just don't expect me to have scintillating conversations with the other guests. 

Highway Hounds of Texas can always use your donations.

Photo Credits:
Anna Listova "Turtle on Stone Pavement"
Mushtag Hussain "Little Girl Hiding her Face in a White Dress"
Max Fischer "A Teacher Standing in the Classroom"
Blue Bird "Smiling Woman Petting Two Beautiful Dogs Outdoors"
MART PRODUCTION "Homeless People Eating in the Park"
Gabriela Cheloni "Woman in Black Standing on Sunflower Field"

1 comment:

  1. I think writers are often better listeners than most, whether they're shy or not, and being that is every bit as valuable as being witty or ... not awkward.


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