Showing posts with label Shyness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shyness. Show all posts

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Then And Now #FridayReflections

It often occurs to me that I essentially haven't matured much beyond the age of about twelve. Sure, I've gotten older. I've added a husband and some ankle biters.

Except they're not ankle biters anymore. Details. Hold it. Does anyone actually say ankle biters anymore? Oh right, I just did. So there's that.

Back to the maturity thing. In a lot of ways I've remained childlike. In the sense that I still love all the same things I did when I was twelve.

As a child I was known for make believin'. All alone I created fantasies. As I grew people called it self deceiving, but my heart helped me hold the memories...

Okay, that last paragraph is actually the words to a Carpenters song (Those Good Old Dreams). But that's my point. (I think I have one).

At age of twelve I loved:

  • Carpenters music.
  • Anne Of Green Gables.
  • Reading and books in general.
  • Dogs. 
  • Daggy movies and TV shows like The Golden Girls. 
  • Chocolate and cakie things. 
  • Barbie dolls. 

I still love all of them, except the Barbie dolls. I did manage to move on from those. 

Additionally, I was:

  • Shy.
  • Quiet.
  • Introverted.
  • A homebody. 
  • A daydreamer.

Some might say I've also suffered from a chronic case of the terrible affliction known as Resting Bitch Face since childhood. Especially considering my reluctance to smile in photos. Nice.

All of the above still applies at age 47. Sigh. Well, I guess I can summon up a smile for a snap these days. Sort of. Kind of. Maybe. Mostly. Okay, sometimes. Shut up.

It can be disconcerting to realise that you've never really grown up. But then again, adulthood is overrated.

And what is so wrong with all of those things anyway? It's not like I enjoyed setting things on fire as a child and haven't grown out of it! That would definitely be a problem. 

After all, even Resting Bitch Face has its advantages.


What about you?

What were you like as a child?

Are you still the same now?

Linking up for Friday Reflections.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Thank A Teacher #LifeThisWeek

It's been a frightfully long time since I was at school. Thirty years, in fact. Yikes. How did that happen?

Happen it did. Quickly. Suddenly, I was 18, with no idea of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Still haven't figured it out, to be honest. I guess I never will. Oh, well. Sigh.

Anyway, long story short, I ended up enrolling in a TAFE course in library practice. I schlepped into the city replete with my infamous mullet perm. The 80s were just about over, but I hadn't received the memo.

Throughout my years at primary school and high school one thing had become apparent. I was excruciatingly shy and quiet. Furthermore, this was a heinous character defect.

There must be some sort of magical spell or secret knowledge I didn't possess. Knowledge that would enable me to come out of my shell immediately. If not, I was doomed.

It seems that being quiet is viewed as suspicious in our society. Case in point: have you ever noticed that a popular trope in fiction is the killer turning out to be the quiet unassuming character? 

Likewise when a gruesome murder takes place, neighbours of the perpetrator are seen on the news, appalled. "He was pretty quiet. Kept to himself," they mumble to the camera. The subtext being, all quiet folk are psychopaths waiting to happen. HMPH. Not true. Granted, I am weird, but in a completely harmless way.

Look, I'm getting to the thanking a teacher bit shortly. The point is, I had been conditioned to believe that being quiet and shy was tantamount to a crime. A hideous, awful, shameful flaw. Something that had to be changed at all costs. If only I tried hard enough,  I should be able to do the thing that people commanded: come out of my shell.

I grew to loathe those words. Sadly not as much I loathed myself. I desperately wanted to be bubbly and outgoing. The opposite of my true self in every way.

To complicate matters, I didn't know that I'm autistic at the time. I believed that all my struggles to communicate were simply shyness. And yes, I AM shy. Like I've said before, I scored the ultimate trifecta of social awkwardness: shy, introverted (yes, they are two different things) and autistic.

But to get to the thanking a teacher bit! As part of the library practice TAFE course we had to do a communication module.

My teacher for this subject was a lovely lady with the unusual name of Gill Goater. She wore dangly earrings and a warm smile.

It transpired that one of our assessments involved giving a speech on a topic of our choice. OH. MY. GOD. Naturally my shy little soul shriveled at such a prospect. The thing was impossible. A knot of dread settled in my stomach.

The dread was also suffused in shame. Here I was, ostensibly an adult and I was no closer to 'coming out of my shell'. The very idea of standing in front of the class set me quivering.

But Gill smiled at me and said something to the effect: I just want you to know that I know you're shy and that's okay.

Wait. What?

"It's okay to do things in your own time," she continued. I was thunderstruck yet thrilled. No one had ever said such a thing to me before.

The upshot of it was, she gave me a get of jail for free card. I didn't have to do the speech if I didn't want to, she told me. A funny thing happened. I mulled it over, as I am want to do.

A number of people in the class were from non English speaking backgrounds. A speech would be a challenge for them, too. Upon reflection, it didn't seem fair that they should have to do it, while I was excused.

I went back and told Gill I'd do it. She suggested a topic I knew a lot about: Why not talk about shyness? Explain what it's like. Make people understand.

So that's what I did. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I do remember that you couldn't hear a pin drop until I finished and the room erupted into applause.

Gill was beaming. "I'm giving you an 11 out of ten because I know how hard that was for you!" she said.

Shortly afterwards, she left to go travelling and we had a different teacher. But I never forgot her. So, thank you, Gill Goater, for your acceptance and understanding. I wish more teachers were like you.

Interestingly, I googled Gill's name and discovered she is now a poet, with a book of poetry in print. Highly unlikely she would remember me, but now I'm keen to read her poetry. 

Meanwhile, I now know I'm autistic. In retrospect, it could have been an even more interesting speech! It certainly explains why I could never just 'come out of my shell'.

But I've never become a murderer either. And never will! That's something.

What about you?

Is there a teacher you'd like to thank? 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Letter To My Sixteen Year Old Self

Hello again! I'm back with a lovely regurgitated and tweaked offering! Why not? 

I stumbled upon yet another blog link up over at Life Through The Haze. It sounded like something I'd be up for. And when I read the prompt for this week, I knew I had something in the archives. So I've updated my tender letter to my sixteen year old self. 

Side note: wasn't I cute? And skinny. No bat wing nanna arms or double chins. Oh well, there's more of me to love these days. That's one way of looking at it!  

Anyway, here is the updated letter: 

Dear 16 year old Nessie,

Hello, it's me, your 45 year old self. There are a few things I wanted to say to you.

First things first.

A mullet-perm is a bad idea. In fact, it is a truly DREADFUL idea. Do not go there. I know it's the 80's and everyone is suffering from TES*, but please, resist. At age 45 you won't even have to bother with perms because you'll be sporting some lovely nanna curls. Don't ask. 

Mullet-perm circa 1987

Nanna curls 2016

Right. Well dear, I know you're very lonely right now, and you don't have many friends. Sorry to tell you, but the one or two 'friendships' you have now are going to go pear-shaped.

There is something called Rotaract. GO.

You will be out of your comfort zone. You will be awkward, but - eventually - that is where you will meet lifelong friends (or at least until age 45 anyway). Oh, and you will meet your husband there too!

Even though, dare I say it, there is really no rush to be married. (Shhhhh, don't tell Micky Blue Eyes).

In the future there will also be something called the Internet. There you will be able make online friends with other Carpenters fans. Consequently you will no longer feel like a freak for your obsession. 

There are some other interesting things you should know about 2016. Here goes: 

People don't listen to records anymore. You'll hang onto your Carpenters ones, though. Because CARPENTERS. Duh! 

Those Back To The Future Movies LIED. There are no hover boards! But this won't particularly concern you since you are afraid of heights. Yes. Still. There's nothing you can do about it.

There are no time machines, so really there is no way for you to see this drivel  genius that I'm writing to you. I blame Steven Speilberg. It's like those movies were total fiction or something! See previous point. I thought I was watching a documentary. HMPH. 

It's super weird and bizarre and kind of bullshit around this point in time. Both personally and just in general. I can't even begin to explain how weird. 

Related: you need to learn that the past is over and the future hasn't happened yet. After a life-changing event** you will slowwwwly learn to live in the present. And then maybe you'll stop writing trite letters to your past self. I hope... Ahem...

But let's finish this one now that we've started...

You tend to believe lots of silly stuff about yourself. Like you can't learn to drive. It will take you longer. A lot longer. But you will.

You also believe you can't cope with the hard stuff in life. There will be hard stuff, sadly. See above. But, guess what?  You will actually cope okay. It won't be easy, but you will be okay in the end. I promise.

And Nessie dear, you will always be the most quiet, shy person in the room. You are never going to be loud, bubbly and outgoing. There is no magic age when you will 'come out of your shell'. It's not going to happen. And it's okay. It really is.  As Oscar Wilde said: "Be yourself; everyone else is taken."

Also remember this:

You don't have to like everyone you meet and they don't have to like you.

I repeat:

You don't have to like everyone you meet and they don't have to like you. Liberating, isn't it?

Also this:

You wouldn't worry about what everyone thought of you if you knew how seldom they did.

And most of all: your mental health is always more important than what someone may think of you. 

There is something else about you that is different***. Something beyond just being shy. Not bad, just different.  I was going to tell you, but I won't. There is a reason you won't find this out until later. You're not ready.

But when you do find out, I want you to seriously re-define what success in life really is - for you. And STOP, once and for all, comparing yourself with super outgoing, non-different (for want of a better term) people.

Oh, and if any of your teachers/relatives/friends ever mention that they think you're good at writing, there could be a chance they're actually not putting you on. So have a go. Just write. Something. Anything.

Even a boring as batshit blog is a start. What the hell's a blog?  You'll find out.


Your 45 year old self. 

PS. You're really not going to listen to me about that mullet-perm are you? Oh well, I tried. Sigh. 

*TES = Tragic Eighties Syndrome
** In late 2015 I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. 
***In 2011 I was diagnosed with ASD formerly known as Asperger's Syndrome. 

Linking up for Soft Landings.

What would you say to your 16 year old self? Besides any future lottery numbers...

Monday, 22 February 2016

Introverts Are Awesome!

Howdy folks! Here's something I dragged out of the vaults for today's burning question: 

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

Quiet and reserved?

Or a bubbly, outgoing chatterbox?

The person sitting sedately in the corner at social occasions?

Or do you prefer dancing on the tables and being the centre of attention?

Maybe you're somewhere in between these extremes? I'd like to know! 

As for me,  clearly it's obvious. It's table-top dancing exhibitionism all the way, baby! And talking? I never stop! 

The fact that this is all a figment of my imagination is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT.

Oh alright, sometimes I like to pretend I'm the opposite of what I'm really like. I mean, it was okay to sing into a hair brush in my bedroom as a child and pretend to be a pop star. Can't I still play pretend as an adult? The problem is, I have difficulty translating my flights of fantasy into real life 'fake it until you make it' situations. Sigh. 

The truth is that I'm so introverted I make all other introverts seem like Alan Carr Chatty Man on Speed. In addition to my extreme introversion, I am also ridiculously shy. If that wasn't enough, I also have Asperger's Syndrome. Oh yes, I've scored the ultimate hat-trick of excruciating social awkwardness. Yay me! 

Just make sure you invite me to all your parties if you really want to them to just  GO  OFF!  I mean completely, OFF. Literally. I'll bore all the guests rigid in seconds. If my riveting personality isn't enough, all I need to do is whip out my Carpenters albums. DONE. 

Anyway, as you can see, all of the above traits have led to me disintegrating in self-deprecation quite frequently. However, since the publication of the book I mentioned, there has been a subtle shift. Us introverts are finally getting our fifteen minutes of fame. There is even a Facebook group called Introverts Are Awesome.
I absolutely agree. So I stole the title for this post. Ahem.

As mute as I can be in person, I have a feeling that I have plenty to say on this topic. So feel free to skim through to the end. 

Otherwise, strap yourself in, it's going to be a self-indulgent ride. You're welcome.  

Apparently it was some dude named Carl Jung who first coined the terms introvert and extrovert. Although there still appears to be some ongoing debate about the true definition of these terms, the simple lay person's guide is this:

An introvert is somebody who finds too much social interaction over-stimulating and needs to recharge with solitude. Extroverts, on the other hand, are energised and thrive off being around other people. 

This is a pretty basic, abridged definition. Obviously there has been reams of stuff written about the two different types and there can be variables. For instance, not all introverts consider themselves to be shy.  

Personally, I was so sensitive about being shy as a young person that I failed to realise that I was also introverted and that this is perfectly fine. Looking back I can see that I sabotaged myself in some ways. 

After I finished High School back in the olden days of the late 1980's, I studied at TAFE to become a Library Technician. My shyness caused me so much agony, especially in the form of job interviews, that even though I managed to secure temporary positions, I finally convinced myself that I was not cut out for the job.

Guess what? You don't have to be extroverted to work in a Library! Who knew? It never occurred to me to see being quiet and introverted as a positive instead of a negative.

There seems to be way too much emphasis on being extroverted in our culture. For so many years I always believed that being shy/introverted was this bad, hideous, awful thing about me that had to be changed at all costs.

The inference from other people was  always that if only I tried hard enough I could 'come of out my shell'. I have grown to hate that expression. Having people subtly put you down in this way constantly just reinforces all the above feelings. I felt that everything about me was intrinsically WRONG. 

After ditching the Library work, I started working in a call centre. Yep, I'm a genius. This is the introvert's version of Hell. Only worse. Anyway, I used to envy the fact that my co-workers seemed to have all this easy banter and rapport. I'd see groups of women trotting off to lunch together laughing, and wish I could be one of them. 

Then, the rare times that I was actually invited out to lunch with others, I'd find myself feeling....well, frankly....bored. Not shy. Not anxious. Just plain old bored. While they chattered on about how hammered they were on the weekend (perfectly normal for a bunch of twenty somethings), I had nothing to add to this conversation. This is when I realised that I do sometimes prefer my own company. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally anti-social. I just prefer small groups of close friends and family than over-whelming crowds of lots of people. And sometimes I just don't click or have anything in common with some people. I've decided that this is okay. After all, you don't have to like or be liked by everyone

Even when I socialise with close friends and family I suffer a 'social hangover' afterwards. I enjoy it, but I then I need time alone to re-charge. Instead of feeling refreshed and energised I feel  like I've done 50 rounds in the ring with The Rock, then been run over by truck and put through a blender. 

See, I knew that I would ramble on about this subject. Whatever the written equivalent of verbal diarrhoea is, I have it. Ahem.

I  ain't coming out of my shell for anyone! 

Even alcohol doesn't 'bring me out of my shell'. Instead, I just feel sleepy and mellow after one or two drinks. After a third I'll either feel light-headed and sick or slip into a coma. I'm SUCH a party animal!

Fortunately, I never attend many parties. Unless they are children's parties. Nobody appears to have 'at home' parties anymore. Or, if they are, we're not being invited. This means that I may have to sit in a McDonald's/Play Centre/Bowling Alley with a few other unfamiliar parents and make polite chit-chat. Not surprisingly, I suck at it. 

I'll either go with my favourite option: mutism. Or, alternatively, I'll completely put my foot in it and blurt out way too much information. 

Like the time one Mum was chatting away about a friend who had tragically lost a baby half way through her pregnancy, yet still had to give birth.

"I couldn't imagine having to go through that!" she said, almost in tears "It would be terrible!"

"Yes, it is," I replied, without thinking "the same thing happened to me." 

The poor woman looked thunderstruck. Of course there was no way she could ever have known that. I wouldn't say it was exactly helpful of me to bring it up. She apologised, clearly wishing the ground would swallow her. Good one, Ness.

Ditto the time when I used to attend Playgroup with Mr 5 before he started school. One of the Mums there expressed her worry about her Dad who was having a colonoscopy that day. I proceeded to inform her how Micky Blue Eyes has one every year after having had bowel cancer in 2004. Her worried expression turned to one of terror. Well played yet again, Ness.  Way to go with the social gaffes!

As Mr 11 would say in a faux American drawl:


No wonder I mostly stick to what I'm best at. Shutting right up.

Yes sir, selective mutism and I are besties. 

ALL VALE NESSKI: Bringing you awkward silences since 1971!

Another phenomenon that came into play during the Play Group era was my introverted tendency to suffer from a 'social hangover'. I briefly touched upon this before.

Playgroup only consisted of a measly two hours a week of social interaction.  That's nothing, right? So why did I go home every week and feel like sobbing from exhaustion? The next week would roll around and I'd feel barely recovered.

Meanwhile, the other Mums revealed how they schlepped their kidlets to various groups on multiple days of the week. I was STUNNED to learn this. Seriously. STUNNED. 

I couldn't have been more shocked if they'd revealed that they liked to snort cocaine off a hooker's arse while their kids watched. 

Okay, I may be exaggerating just a teeny bit. But it is quite amazing to me how you weirdo extroverted folk like this socialising caper so much. 

I guess I could force myself out of my comfort zone once in while. 

It is quite interesting being a shy, introverted Aspie and being a mother of three amazing but noisy boys! On the one hand, I often crave peace and solitude. On the other hand, my family are my coat of armour against the World.

An oldie but a goodie 

In all my many awkward moments I can remind myself that I don't have to worry about what others think of me. I have Micky Blue Eyes and the boys who love and accept me. We are a family of introverts. The only difference is, my boys are certainly NOT shy! 

Anyway, Susan Cain has a Manifesto for Introverts.

I'd like to make up my own manifesto, but I'll have to think about it further in order to come up with something poetic and wise.

In the mean time, you can always count on good old Grumpy Cat:

Linking up for  IMust ConfessOpen Slather and Mummy Mondays

Are you an introvert or an extrovert, or maybe a bit of both? 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Meep Meep

Today I am linking up this past confession with My Home Truths for I Must Confess. Thanks to Kirsty for hosting the link up and giving me the opportunity to take part!

Now to the stunning revelation(s):

I have a confession to make. More like two confessions to be honest. The first startling revelation is that I have actually been watching Big Brother.

Gasp! Shock! Horror!

It's purely for research of course.  After all, I have to keep up my reputation as a Bogan for the sake of this blog. That's one excuse. The other is that it's my bonding time with Master 11. Where once I used to dance around to the Wiggles with him, now we watch Big Brother together. The things we do. He totally forces me. He does! Oh, shut up.

Besides, watching a bunch of gregarious people who love the sound of their own voice and seek attention in the form of cameras on them 24/7 is oddly fascinating to me.  Perhaps because I am the polar opposite. An intensely shy, introverted Aspergian who flees in alarm at the sight of any form of camera. 

I destest drawing attention to myself.  In fact, I just realised that I haven't had a photo taken of myself since March. As for talking, well, let's just say that conversation skills are definitely not my strong point. Slight understatement. That's like saying that sensitivity is not really Alan Jones's strong point.

Anyway, I was getting to a point with my revelation, and that was to my second revelation.  The house mates on Big Brother invented the expression of a 'Meeper.' This is meant to describe a person who doesn't really fit into a group as such, so they kind of 'meep' or hover around conversations, then ineffectually try to join in.  However, somehow it doesn't quite work for them, so it's almost as they've just gone: "Meep Meep!"  Inevitably, Meepers seem to end up draining and dampening a conversation instead of keeping it flowing.

My point is, watching this, I realised that I am probably something resembling a 'Meeper'.  Worse still, I am not even particularly good at 'meeping' As I've mentioned conversation skills are not my forte.  Particularly in groups.

Whenever I take Master 3 to Playgroup, I suspect I 'meep'.  I awkwardly hover around conversations taking place, utterly clueless as to how to join in.
I'm a Meeper like Road Runner,
shame I can't run fast like him too.

Finally, not wishing to appear totally aloof, I make a fumbling attempt to say something, but never overcome the awkward feeling that I am, as they say on Big Brother, 'meeping'.

This probably has a lot to do with two things:

1. My shyness
2. My Asperger's

Since having children, though, I have to regularly be in situations that require making small talk.  Something that, as a shy, introverted Aspie I am seriously woeful at. Hence my 'meeping'.  Sometimes, however, it becomes even worse.

Take for instance, the time I took Master 8 to a McDonald's party for a school friend.  What was hours of Happy Meal filled fun for him, was excruciating for me. I was forced to sit with all the other Mum's and make chit chat.

It all started okay with banal comments on the weather and how the year was flying by. Then, the conversation took a serious turn when one Mum remarked that a friend of hers had recently suffered a late miscarraige but had still had to deliver the baby as the pregnancy was so advanced.

"Imagine having do that," she said, her eyes wide with horror "I don't think I could do it! It would be so awful!"

"Yeah, it is," I responded "that happened to me."

Her eyes widened further. She gaped in disbelief, obviously wishing the floor would open up and swallow her. But she could never have known. Trust me to drob a  bombshell and kill a conversation.

Another time, a Mum at Playgroup confided how worried she was as her father was in hospital having various tests. I helpfully shared how Micky Blue Eyes had had cancer, while her worried expression turned to one of blind panic. Realising my mistake, I hastily apologised. But it was too late.

I truly mean well, it's just that I have terminal foot in mouth disease combined with 'meeping'. I'm a 'Foot in Mouth Meeper'.

So, to avoid such social gaffes I usually stick firmly to what I do best. Shutting right up. That, or, where I once used to be extremely self-concious about eating in public, I now enthusiastically shovel food into my mouth at social occasions. After all, it's rude to speak with your mouth full, right? As long as I keep shovelling I don't have to talk.

I'm unsure if it's too late to cure my 'meeping' and general social awkwardness. All the literature I have read regarding social skills in ASD seems to be directed at children.  So, at the mature age of 41, am I stuck with my 'Foot in Mouth Meeping' tendencies? I guess so, since the only answer I have is this:

Meep Meep.

Do you 'Meep'? Say the wrong things? Or are you the king or queen of chit chat?

Friday, 8 June 2012

Being Different & The Diagnonsense

Last year, at age 40, I found out that I officially am an Aspie.  Meaning a person with Aspergers Syndrome. Or Asparagus Syndrome as it often referred to.  When it is not being referred to as Ass Burgers Syndrome. 

Ass Burgers Syndrome is an Autism Specrum disorder (to quote Wikipedia ) that is characterised by significant difficulties in social interactions alongside restricted and repetive patterns of behaviour. That's the Reader's Digest abridged definition anyway.

I don't know at what age specifically I realised there was something slightly different about me. Most likely not until I started school. My parents probably noticed early on that my brother and I were (and  still are) vastly different temperaments.  Him being quite social, reputedly dancing at one get together as a toddler until his little legs refused to go on and then sitting down and bopping on. Me being quite the opposite and always wanting to go home whenever my parents took us out anywhere.

Samantha and I. I was about 10

I loved dogs and books.  My nose was always in a book as soon as I could read.   Especially Enid Blyton ones.  I was so quiet, Mum often had to check where I was, to see if I was okay. Usually she found me curled up with the dog.  We had a black and tan dachshund named Samantha. I'd named her that after Samantha from Bewitched which I loved.  Now it's obvious why I might not have grown up with much grip on reality loving such things, as I've mentioned before.

In spite of being painfully shy and quiet, apparently I could talk very clearly when I wanted to. So I never really had any speech or developmental delays . I was just a shy kid.

 It's true, I was and am shy.  I think that's a  different thing or trait than Aspergers. After all I'm sure that not every Aspie is shy.  So it's hard to say exactly how much of my behaviours are shyness and how much is from Aspergers. For example, eye contact.  I still find this impossible.

As a baby only a handful of priveleged people apparently had the honour of being able to hold me.  A couple of Aunties only, and my parents.  With anybody else I screamed.

Whenever Mum took me into one Aunty's kitchen I became very distressed at the sight of the very busy patterned wallpaper.  Obviously it was just sensory overload for me, however I would like to think that even as an infant I already had exquisite taste and thought: "Oh my GOD! Look at that hideous 1970's wallpaper...NOOOOOOOOO!!!"

In fact I still detest fleurescent lights with a passion.  I will often wear my sunglasses in shopping centres, receiving the odd stare from people who probably think I'm a complete wanker who thinks she's as cool as Bono.

The most noticeable Aspie trait I had ( and still have) is rocking backwards and forwards or jumping up and down on the spot. It's too bad I didn't keep the latter one into adulthood, because I sure need the exercise. These behaviours are referred to as 'stimming' in Aspie talk.

I wasn't a great student unless the teacher was particularly pushy with me.  This was mainly due to being an off with the pixies space cadet too busy daydreaming during class.  I'd only listen if it was something that interested me and tune everything else out.  I ended up being good at reading and consequently spelling and written expression.  I was fair to terrible with everything else.

Making friends was hard, but I managed to have one or two in primary  school.  At this stage when I was still interested in Barbie dolls I had something in common with other girls.  This changed later in High School where I ended up virtually friendless.  I had nothing in common with other girls who were interested in boys and liked Duran Duran while I was starting my Carpenters obsession.  This obsession has persisted to this day. Yes, I know, I am...seriously...weird.  Still at least I have my Ass Burgers as an excuse. I've met others online who are just as obsessed or worse. (You know who you are.)

More about my diagnonsense (as my friend Randa calls it)  next time...I'm going to play Carpenters.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

(It's Just Not) Working Girl

Today I am linking this old post with Kirsty from My Home Truths for I Must Confess: My First Job.

Recently I happened to watch the retro movie Working Girl starring Melanie Griffith on TV.  The one where everyone was suffering from serious Tragic Eighties Syndrome.

 Mick pointed out to me that I too once sported a mop of Tragic Eighties style hair just like Ms Griffith in the film. See above left.  Okay, mine was far worse than Melanie's. Or 'Tess' as she was in the film. See below.  Sadly, my Tragic Eighties hair was the only potential similarity I had to the character of Tess.

It was becoming increasingly clear to me from an early age that I could never hope to be a career woman. The grand finale of the film where Tess is given her own office while Carly Simon belts out an inspiring chorus of "Let The River Run" in the background, was never going to be a scene that would play out in my life. 

It all started the first time I attempted to get a part time job in high school.  I wasn't really sure if I wanted one, but it seemed like the thing everyone did.    The obvious choice was a job at Macca's ie. McDonald's.  I dutifully filled out the application form.  I needed a reference. I asked a teacher who worked wonders at finding tactful, polite things to say about me when in reality if he'd written the truth it would have read something like "Vanessa never utters a single word, or makes eye contact.  Ever. Hire someone else."

After only two weeks of the preliminary training I was fired.  This did not bode well for a future career.  Let's face it, if you can't even manage Macca's, future CEO (or anything) is looking pretty unlikely. 

A year or two later I stumbled out of high school, with absolutely no idea of what to do.  So I signed up for a two year TAFE course in Library Practice.  Seemingly the perfect choice for the quiet, shy nerd-girl who loved reading.  To my dismay I discovered there was a lot more to working as a Library Technician than just reading books.  You actually had to talk to people.  Starting with the obvious.  A job interview.  EEEEEEEEEEEK!  Just the thought of them fills me with terror. 

I know nobody likes them. Everyone gets nervous of course. But it was completely off the scale for me.  I honestly could not fathom what to say.  It didn't matter that I was the most honest, trustworthy reliable individual on the planet, that wasn't going to get me a job. 

I needed the gift of the gab, the ability to sprout verbal diarrhoea and tell potential employers how completely wonderful I was.  I just simply cannot, to this day, do this.  I don't know how much of it is shyness and how much of it is my Aspergers, which I didn't know about at the time.  Perhaps I might have been able to get the help I needed for employment if I had known, something I desperately needed.

Since childhood, whenever I was asked an on the spot question I would freeze and literally not be able to think of  a single thing to say.  This happened at every interview.  Fortunately I was able to get a temporary position at the State Library of NSW through somebody I knew from TAFE.  But a permanent job elluded me.  For a period of time I diligently kept on applying for jobs.  I wasn't so bad at the written application part, so almost always I was contacted for an interview.  It was the talking I couldn't do.  Still can't. 

Some of the other librarians attempted to help me out by telling me what type of questions to expect to be asked so that I could prepare.  All the preparation in the world, still didn't help and the nightmare continued.  The more I tried, the more effort I put in to attempt to sound and speak confidently the more pointless it seemed.

One time I remember walking into a building for an interview and thinking: Right, I am going to walk up confidently to the front desk, speak up loudly and make eye contact.  Determined, I proceeded to do so only to receive the immediate reply "Boy, you're really shy aren't you?" I must have literally reeled as if he'd slapped me.  Even when I made a supreme effort to try to be confident, it seemed I just wasn't convincing. This was one of the many times the interview ended with me running out in tears.

Meanwhile I was also struggling with the temporary job, trying to fit in to the 'team' environment we were expected to work in.  As well as with being a dreamy, space cadet. An unhelpful trait in the work place.

Eventually I gave up on the library jobs and took a job in an NRMA call centre, principally because I was able to arrive 20 minutes late for the interview, after getting lost, where I mumbled a few incoherent words and they still employed me on a trial basis.  I soon found out why. It was hell on Earth.  NRMA are a great company, it's just that I wasn't cut out to talk to (mostly abusive) people all day.  Even over the phone. Somehow I worked there for three nightmarish years, before finally resigning. 

By this point I was married and we wanted start a family. It wasn't happening and we began fertility treatments.  This involved multiple trips to the hospital at random times, which would have made trying to keep a job at the same time difficult. So in it went into the too hard basket right along with driving.

Years later I had a few more casual library jobs.  (The whole fertility thing is another saga!).  The closest I got to a 'Tess' moment was when I was employed by law firm to look after their small specialist library.  I told them I wasn't in fact, officially a librarian, and they went oh well, doesn't matter and let me pretend to be one for a while.

Yes, I am definitely no Working Girl.  Maybe I'll just have to live vicariously through the film instead. After all daydreaming is something I'm good at.  Sing with me..."Leeeeeeeeet the River Ruuuun, Let all the dreamers wake the nation......"

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Quiet Discomfort

I am, of course, famous for being quiet, introspective and deep.(ie an off with the pixies, space cadet who can't think of a single original thing to say) which means that I do not find myself making faux pas. In fact my biggest faux pas seems to be the fact that I AM so quiet. It seems to bother people tremendously.  This has led to the following situations and observations.

When an outgoing, talkative person leaves a job, their co-workers are genuinely regretful to see them go, not only because of their work contribution, but also because of their wit, conversation skills and general friendliness.  People descend on them with loud exclamations of "Sorry to see you go!" and promises to keep in touch and meet for coffee.  There are lots of 'in' jokes on the farewell card about all the crazy times at staff and Christmas Parties.

This is in stark contrast to a shy, quiet person, (ie. me). When you leave a job (assuming you can get one in the first place) people make such heartwarming comments like:

"Oh well, we'll miss your work, but not you - you're too quiet."

When the farewell card goes around the office, everyone politely signs it, all the while wondering:
 "Who is she?"

Other stuff that has happened:

People routinely talk about me as if I'm not there.

People who would never dream of telling an overly loud chatterbox to just shut the hell up, think nothing of telling me that I SHOULD NOT be so quiet. That I MUST come out of my shell.

Frequent jibes heard are:

"It's always the quiet ones you gotta watch."

 As if being quiet means I am some sort of weird psychopath waiting to happen, who could potentially snap at any given moment. Well, just so you know, I personally keep my collection of sawn off shot guns right in between my collection of Carpenters cds and Lucy Maud Montgomery novels. NOT.

"Stuck up bitch!"

I heard this a lot growing up

 Me? Stuck up? I live in Boganville for christ sakes.  Me? A bitch? I honestly wish I could be one.  Even just for a day, just to see what it feels like.

"You're the quietest person I've ever met/known." 

 Hmph.  Don't they know any dead people.

Other stuff that occurs to me:

People whom I've met several times and by now could reasonably expect they might remember me, look at me bewildered, frantically searching their memory banks and coming up they have forgotten my name.

I spent decades of my life being nice, polite, sweet and giving to other people who wouldn't even like me if I gave them a Ferrari, only to be informed during a so-called Confidence Building group thingy, that quiet, shy people are selfish and self-absorbed. This didn't particularly build my confidence, come to think of it.

In a recent social situation I was my usual quiet, unassuming self. Meanwhile, a group of young women were chatting away incessantly. The bulk of the conservation seemed to involve bitching about other friends and acquaintances who were not there. At times the comments were not only bitchy but downright racist. I said nothing. Maybe I should have. Nobody else said anything. Then, in amongst all this racist bitchiness, somebody turned to me and exclaimed loudly :

"You're the quietest person I've ever known! You're never gonna change, are you?" Hearty chuckles. How am I supposed to respond to such statements? I have no idea, but I probably gave her look that would freeze hell over.

Apparently being bitchy and racist is far more socially acceptable than being quiet. I don't get it. I never will. Sigh.

Selective mutism is, of course, part of having Asperger's Syndrome. I was just lucky enough to score a genetic hatrick of traits. I'm introverted, shy, quiet AND an Aspie, so therefore, is it any wonder I am so quiet? Maybe I should wear a sign on my chest or something informing people of all of the above, so they won't make a federal issue of it.

Ultimately, the older I get the less I care about what random people think of me. Hallejah! About time. Occasionally, I frustrate the fuck out of Micky Blue Eyes with my silence. I DO care about that. I don't know how he puts up with me, sometimes. But then again, I don't know how I put up with him either. Interesting. Apparently we like putting up with each other.

Okay, I think I'm done.  Back to what I do best.  Shutting up.  Try it some time people.

Linking up with Kirsty from  My Home Truths for I Must Confess.

Are you a talker? Too quiet? Or just right? What's so wrong with being quiet, anyway? Any thoughts?

I Vant To Be Alone

It is Easter Sunday and I now have alone time.  Mick has taken the boys to a soccer match. The house is echoing with blissful silence.  I can even hear a bird cooing along with the wind chimes outside the door. No deafening roar of a PlayStation, combined with the television blasing. No cries of "Muum, can you get me a cup of tea?" vying with "He started it!" to be heard.

 Consequently, I cannot think of single interesting thing to write about.  So I expect this blog entry will be boring as batshit.  Just like all the others then, I guess. Oh well.

Whenever I have absolutely no hope in hell of getting near the computer, then, no doubt I would be bursting forth with all sorts of brilliantly witty insights and revelations (ie. full of shit). Today, I've got nothing.  But since nobobdy is reading this anyway I guess it doesn't matter.

So, now that I have alone time, here is a list of things I could do:

  • Exercise (I do need the endorphins.  No point worrying about burning calories.  I could jog to Melbourne and back and I still wouldn't have burned off the calories I've eaten in chocolate.)
  • Blast Carpenters REALLY LOUD.
  • Write
  • Eat more chocolate
  • Do 20 truck loads of washing up (hmm might actually be forced to, if I fancy a cup of tea later)
  • Read a book
  • Put away 20 truck loads of laundry
  • Eat more chocolate
  • Clear away/tidy
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Stare into space vacantly
  • Eat more chocolate
  • Have a bubble bath
  • Call a friend
  • Text a friend
  • Ironing ( yeah right)
  • Watch tv
  • Watch a girly movie
  • Eat more chocolate
Right. So far, have managed to read a book, eat more chocolate, stare into space vacantly, eat more chocolate, blast Carpenters, eat more chocolate ,write this boring as batshit blog and eat more chocolate.  Comforting when you can tick stuff off your to-do list isn't it?

On a day when most people would unite with their extended families for a big get together or bbq, I am quite content being alone. I have chocolate. Books. Carpenters. Computer.  Ahhh, heaven.

I guess it seems like I don't really love my kids when I crave alone time so much.  But I really do love them.  I just really love them to go out with Mick and leave me alone sometimes too.  This gives me time to ponder on things like the deep and intellectual thinker I am.  Like my reflections on being so quiet and introverted.  Coming soon.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Group Therapy

Today I was hit by a bus. Metaphorically speaking.  Pushed way out of my comfort zone.  Completely out of my depth.  Feeling awkward, alien like and anxious.  This happens every Wednesday.  One word.

Playgroup. Actually it could be two words.  Not sure.

It's only two hours a week.  Two very  over-whelming hours.  For me, anyway.  Noise.  Children.  Apparently they are essential for a Playgroup.  Fleurescent lights. People.  Lots of people.  Scary.

Not to mention the giant huntsman that crept out to greet me in the bathroom there, a few weeks ago. Eeeeeeeeeek!

On any given week, there will be children running around playing, including my very own Master 3 (when he isn't clinging to me).  Babies crying.  Mum's chatting.  Toys everywhere.

Where am I amongst all this?  Standing, mute, in the corner, in quiet discomfort.  It's not that the folk there aren't friendly and welcoming.  They are.  It's just me.  Groups intimidate me. Always have.

Although I can sometimes manage an awkward one to one conversation, groups are a mystery to me.  I have no idea in hell how to join in an already established conversation.  Am clumsy at starting one. Posess zero ability to shout out and project my voice (which rarely reaches more than a whisper anyway) across a crowded room.

I can't bounce off people speedily with instant witty comebacks.  Trade jokes and banter with effortless ease. I do not have instant rapport with anyone I meet or make friends easily wherever I go. Let's not even talk about eye contact. Impossible.  Just. Does. Not. Compute.

I am capable of being a loyal friend and confidante, I know that, but not capable of making them easily.  Luckily, I do have my family and a small group of friends who seem to accept me the way I am (the quietest person in the room where ever I go) for which I am very grateful.

Plus, when at Playgroup, or anywhere for that matter,  I seem to have a decidedly unhelpful habit of comparing myself to all the other mothers.  How on Earth do they manage to look so neat, tidy and frankly, awake?  Wearing white.  White. With children.  Just. Does. Not. Compute.

In addition to this, their children tend to look like they've just stepped out of a Target catalogue.  My Master 3, on the other hand, looks like he's been dragged backwards through a hedge, wearing faded hand me downs, impeccably ironed to perfection though, of course, ( if you have been reading all my posts you will know I just made that last bit up, just wanted to check if you are paying attention) including a Spiderman shirt that belongs to a dress-up suit, at least a size too small.  As well as sporting a dodgy at home hair cut.  Classy.

The main thing is, he seems to have a good time.  So I will keep going,  and hopefully he will learn to navigate groups with slightly more ease than his mother.  Also, even the most quiet, shy, introverted Aspie craves company sometimes.  Even if I do come home exhausted, wanting quiet time.  If such a thing even exists as a mother of three boys!

I just hope that the huntsman spider doesn't make another appearance.  That thing was huge.  Eeeeeeek!

Saturday, 17 March 2012


"Darkness surrounds my loneliness.  Pervading my soul, it stirs my silent anguish."  I wrote those melodramatic words feverishly on a scrap of paper at around age 14 (there abouts) as I sobbed in my bedroom.  My favourite past time.  Nothing has changed at age 41. 

It seems at times there's nothing I like better than a good old sooky la la sobbing session.  Not to be confused with  Weepy, Mopey, Why Me?, Melodramatic Melt Down Mode, which I quite enjoy at times too.  Instead of silent tears of despair, this version involves racking, heaving sobs and sometimes howling like a banshee.  Occasionally items are thrown.

Especially when my husband has the audacity to inform me, in the midst of it all, that I should be jumping for joy.  In my defense I'd had a raging headache for 3 weeks straight ( I kid you not) and could not be held accountable for my actions.

Of course I would like to believe that I am just an extremely sensitive individual with deeper emotions than others.   Somebody who feels things intensely.  Instead of just the miserable, pitiful, wallowing, self-indulgent sook I really am.  After all I have a real reason to sook.

All my life I have never fit in with others.  Painfully shy, quiet and introverted, I would rather the ground open up and swallow me into a vortex than to have to answer a direct question or be the centre of attention for even a nano-second.

This probably explains somewhat why, when I heard Carpenters music for the first time at age 11, I was immediately drawn to Karen Carpenter's voice.  Rich, soothing, intimate.  Singing such unspeakably mournful lines like:

"I'll say Goodbye To Love, no one ever cared if I should live or die..."  OR

"Day after day, I must face a world of strangers, where I don't belong, I'm not that strong.."

This was EXACTLY how I felt.  As well as this, naturally:

"What I've got they used to call the blues, nothing is really wrong, feeling like I don't belong..."

In fact, I've never belonged.  In addition to crippling shyness, I am also an Aspie, an affectionate term for a person with Asperger's Syndrome.  I was not aware of this fact until age 40, just last year.  However, I've always been acutely aware that I am different from others.   Others love socialising for hours.   Others don't  love blissfully rocking backwards and forwards to Carpenters music for hours.  Instead they would possibly be more tempted to open a vein if they had to listen for even a second!

Sometimes it's hard and very disconcerting to realise that I am 41 and basically haven't matured beyond age 14.  And that I will always be different to others.  The quietest person in the room, no matter where I go.  In fact, if I had a dollar for everytime I've been informed of how quiet I am, I would be a very rich woman indeed.   It's funny how people think it is their duty to inform you of this, but somehow they never tell overly loud people to just shut the hell up.  But I digress.

Then, on top of all my wallowing, I end up feeling agonisingly guilty for feeling sorry for myself at all.  After all there are many people battling life threatening illnesses ( which I've experienced directly with family members) and I just can't seem to get it together, get over it, get on with it, get a job, or even socialise without feeling like I've been run over by a truck.  But, as Rudy Simone says in her book Aspergirls: Empowering Females With Asperger Syndrome "telling a person with Asperger's to just get on with it is like telling a person in a wheel chair to just take the stairs to get to the second floor" And I'm sure this applies to anyone suffering from depression, Aspie or not.

So I will allow myself to wallow.  A little bit anyway.  To have my frequent 'sook' sessions. I'll put on Karen, allow her to soothe me.  Then I will quietly get on with life the best I can.  As a quiet, shy, Aspergirl who needs a good sook as much as a good book.