I Am Super Friendly, and Sometimes That Scares People.

August 22, 2013

I am what most people would call friendly.  I am also what a lot of people would call, politely, a “force of nature.”  My dear friend Olivia has referred to me, on more than one occasion, as a whirling dervish.  I think she meant it in a good way.

The point is I can talk to just about anyone.  I love to talk, I love people, I LOVE BEING FRIENDLY. (Let’s not get into how this is a terrible trait to have along-side my anxiety issues.)  For the most part this is great! It’s pretty much part of my job to be friendly! (Which tells you nothing, I mean, everyone who is working with other people really needs to be friendly. I mean, otherwise no one wants to work with you.)  The only time this becomes a problem is when, as great as I am at reading people in general, I bump into a shy person.  I have ZERO radar for people who are shy.  I am enthusiastically, bombastically, over the top gregarious.  I can only imagine how shy people feel about this.

Olivia is an example of how this can end well.  My junior year at university, Olivia’s sophomore year, I was her RA.  The first day she and her roommate, Jessica, moved into the dorm I barged into their room, plopped myself down, proceeded to introduce myself and ask them all kinds of questions. “What year are you?” “What are your majors?” “Which hall were you in last year?” “Why did you elect a chem-free floor?  Did you? Or did your parents for you?”  Worse – I didn’t leave it at that! I went back over and over again!  Board by board I dismantled what Liv and I would later refer to as her chicken shit box. When we had floor activities I would pop in and, at first, fairly drag Liv out to participate.  “What are you doing?  You wanna come to this thing? It’s going to be a lot of FUnnnnnnn!”  (My idea of fun was pretty vanilla, although one boring winter night our entire floor did dress up as pimps and ‘ho’s for no apparent reason…* but more often than not it was, “I bet we can totally fit in that extra large LL Bean duffle bag.” “Yeah, but I bet they couldn’t carry us down the hall in it.”  Pro-tip?  Do not level up to “Bet they can’t carry me down the stairs in it.”  Particularly if you bruise easily.) But by the end of it? Livlet was more outgoing than I was!  And?  We’re still best friends! BEST THING EVER!

I don’t have a real example of it going wrong, but it does 100% explain why the type of boy I was always interested in as a young single lass was never interested in me. (Well, aside from my being an overweight teenager.) Shy awkward boys tend to swerve a hard left around the loud girl who is friends with literally everyone. (Being friends with everyone in high school and college is not a super popular angle to take if you’re jockeying for some kind of position in teenage social hierarchy.)  I do, however, have a long list of examples of people I didn’t realize were shy until I had known them for months.  Including one of my new coworkers and, honestly, I still wouldn’t know he was shy except someone told me today.

I am now having to actively resist the urge to walk into his office, plop down and say, “So! You’re SHY! I didn’t even know! Sorry about that!” But I’m guessing that is exactly the wrong approach to take… right?



*Thank god there were no digital cameras on campus in 1997.

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