Tuesday, June 14, 2011

outted and outsmarted

I have been chewing on this post since last weekend.  And came to realize something about myself that I hadn't recognized.  It took a comment by my oldest daughter to bring about this epiphany.

I don't like crowds.  I don't like crowds in general, but the crowds I am talking about now are the social crowds.  Those places where groups of people gather and socialize.

I hate them.  With a passion.  I always knew I hated them.  But I didn't know why.  For years I would go to gatherings, and escape as soon as I could.

Immediate family gatherings were no problem.  It's the extended family that I get nervous around.  Mother's Day is also Decoration at the local church cemetery here in my community.  It is a tradition to decorate the graves in the (very) old cemetery with flowers the day before "Decoration", and then go look at the flowers you put on the graves the day before.  It was an odd custom to me, but I did it, because it was expected of me.  After a few years of standing around talking to people I didn't know or barely knew, I stopped going. 

After going to the cemetery, it was the custom to have a big dinner with all the relatives within driving distance.  Steve always enjoyed that part.  But as soon as I could, I made my escape home.  I was lucky enough to live next door.

I am so uncomfortable talking about this that my arms are itching.  And I am thinking about the reunion that my family went to last weekend.  High school.  The school my kids and my husband and his sisters all attended.  The school is gone now, but they were expecting a huge crowd.  And it was huge.  Everyone was there.

Except two people.  My youngest daughter Deborah (Wretch).  And me. (Oh, and my son Jim, who had to work.  He would have been there.  He's like his dad that way.)

I was listening to Jen (my oldest) talking to her dad about why Wretch wasn't there.  She told him that Wretch told her that she doesn't like crowds, and avoids social situations like that whenever she can.

Then Jen said "she gets it from Mom.  Mom has never liked to be in crowds like that either."

I was stunned.  My daughter understood my anxiety better than I did.  It was like a light exploded in my head.

Or maybe it was just the fact that I finally acknowledged it.

I can stand in front of a crowd and speak.  I've done that many times, through graduate school and beyond.  I can talk to groups of any size at work.  Students, clients, staff.  No problem.

Just don't ask me to make small talk in a social situation.  I feel like an idiot.  Like everything I have to say is stupid.  So I avoid. 

Will I change?  Probably not...

But I will have Margaritas with a friend from work on Thursday at the local Mexican restaurant during happy hour.

I've been outted by my daughter, who understands me way better than I understand myself...

When did my kids get smarter than me?
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