All of my social discomfort comes down to the idea of not knowing “the rules” of what’s expected.
This is why I’m such a good performer. When all eyes are on me, I am /defining/ what expected. I am about to show or tell you what’s expected. Even when I don’t succeed (and that does happen), it’s not really a reflection on me, just the performance. I made an attempt, and it didn’t connect. Bow out gracefully, and as with all things, the idea that I did not connect is yet another negative assumption. Nine times out of ten, I discover that I actually did fairly well after the fact. No worries. If I am in a situation where it’s clear – a social event with a theme, a dinner party, something where you’re not expected to know everybody – I do well. I only run into trouble when I am in a place with a group where I don’t know how to act, or fear that to fit in, I’m expected to do something I normally wouldn’t (like drink).
So how should I deal with this?
According to my friend the therapist, I should /listen/. Be quiet, and just listen. This takes me out of my own head, and causes me to focus on trying to hear what others say. They know I’m new, but they invited me, so they want me there. So I can be quiet without being weird, as long as I’m listening to what others are saying. From that, they will eventually say something that I have something to contribute to. Leil Lowndes refers to this as “cherry picking” – the “cherry” is that key word that you know something about. I am reminded of some event where I talked about something I did as a temp, and an awkward Indian guy at the party knew all about that, and chimed in to give his insight (can’t remember what it was). That’s what he did – that’s what I should do too. But above all else, do not make any negative assumptions, and remember, the host invited me. I belong there.