Sunday, October 01, 2006

Umm... I forgot?

Something has come to my attention. I could just blurt it out to you right this second, but that would be far too easy... We're going to ease into this, because a little suspense never hurt anyone.

I know that you all are sick of hearing about the time I spent hunting for a job, but I really do think this is related.

(Hang on a second, I need to go grab another beer.)




(Ahhhhh, much better!)

Ok, so today whilst I was going about my business, I called to catch up with some people. It was while I was on the phone with one of them that I had this VERY sudden realization.

You see, when you are faced with the prospect of moving back to your hometown, (where, mind you, the only appealing feature is getting to see your beloved momma everyday, and occasionally grabbing a beer with your miscreant, idiot, prodigal brother,) well... staring down the wrong end of that gun barrel, pursuing every possible way to garner a stay of execution becomes your all-consuming goal. And thus you would be willing to tell a prospective boss that you could turn straw into gold, or that you posses equally impressive magical abilities that warrant you being put on the payroll.

Being entirely too wrapped up in dealing with those issues is bad enough. Compound the learned self-aggrandizement from that scenario with the fact that as a result of being jobless you have to pinch every last penny for 5 months until you finally see that first paycheck. Budgetary living like that means that you forego ALL the normal social activities you normally engage in, because you want to be able to afford luxuries like eating, and sleeping somewhere other than an alley for the next week.

So, you spend all week wrapped up in yourself, trying to tell potential bosses how great you are all day every day. (At the end of the day you sure as hell don't believe any of the crap you just said to any of them, but you know you've got to make the convincing sell when you're in there, so given enough time, you do actually fool yourself into delusions of grandeur for a while...) And then in the evenings and on weekends, you don't go out and you don't do anything. You don't interact with other people. EVER. (Because in the big city, nothing is free.)

Let me tell you that after 5 months of that kind of environment, one literally forgets how to behave. I'm not kidding. Seriously. Hear me out here.

You spend FIVE MONTHS, living virtually as a hermit. And on the rare occasion that you do get out, you're using the opportunity to talk yourself up to a stranger. That's roughly 150 days where if you're out interacting with the public it's all about how great you are, and the rest of the time you are alone left to your own devices. It's all or nothing. And when that's how you function day in and day out for nearly half of a year, you lose touch with something you once had. You really do forget how to behave. You honestly do lose touch with some of your social skills.

Over the course of the last few months, you forgot that there was a world outside, and out in that world there were people who went on about their business completely oblivious to your plight. (And since you've forgotten how to behave in social situations, your all-consuming thought to yourself is, "Those insensitive assholes! How dare they not notice me!") After all, you've been your own sole focus for months!

The phone calls you've made to friends lately have all been about you, and your mission to find work. They have been all about you. It is a dangerous currency to deal in self-involvement. You tend to forget your place.

So while I was on the phone today, I was talking to someone about what she did this past weekend and all the action she's been getting lately. It's nice to hear about the outside world again, knowing that you are on the verge of rejoining the party. But after about a half an hour of conversation, it suddenly dawned on me that I had lost something. The banter was lost. The edge of the wit had dulled. There was unwanted air in the conversation. And as someone who is known in social circles for that particular brand of sharp-edged wit, the realization that you have forgotten how to interact with others in your usual way hits you like a ton of bricks. It suddenly closes in on you and makes you really uncomfortable with yourself.

A little while later one of my best friends in the world called me to see how I was doing. I looked down at the ringing phone. I saw her name on my caller ID. I was overjoyed and terrified at the same time. She's one of my best friends and the last time I talked to her was damn near 3 months ago. THREE MONTHS!?!?!? Not because of any tension in the relationship, not because I didn't want to talk to her for any reason, just because I had been too wrapped up in myself to make a phone call.

SERIOUSLY, how fucked in the head do you have to be to just get too wrapped up in your own business that you totally neglect calling one of your best friends for THREE MONTHS?

I've become a bad friend who has lost some of her formerly reknowned social skills. I have forgotten the proper etiquette and protocol for the kinds of daily interaction that no one should ever forget... Down to the point where it impacted my personal interaction with people who know me well.

Dammit, I've gotta get back out there!

The only way to fight these demons is to jump back into social circles with both feet.


(But having realized what I now know about my personality, I'm a little reticent to go out there, lest I offend people who under other circumstances would find me charming, witty, and irresistible.)

Your thoughts?

No comments: