Avoiding People

Hi, fellow lurker here, with her blue moon query as follows --

I have this problem with people I kind of know but am not really close friends with (i.e. colleagues, co-workers, former acquaintances): When I see them in public out of context of work or school, etc, I tend to avoid them, pretend I don't see them and/or avert eyes.

It's so silly and I feel so bad about it later, as in embarrassed. I have shy social skills and feel awkward greeting people or acknowledging them unless we're very close and familiar. I am an aloof person to begin with, but sometimes I just don't know what to do in situations with "semi-friends".

Writing this I feel shallow, but it seems like a bigger issue in my mind. You guys have always been pretty cool about giving me, a relative stranger, feedback so I am curious about any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms you might have on my weird shyness.
Republicans for Voldemort (as seen on my bumper sticker)
If you feel socially awkward then it makes sense why you want to avoid acquaintances.

I don't think it's silly or shallow. There are lots of shy people out there and their shyness can definitely interfere with their lives and happiness. There are lots of on-line resources for shyness and books about shyness - I would start there.
To Trenell, MizKerri and geeky:
I pray none of you ever has to live in a communist state.

Geeky is my hero. She's the true badass. The badass who doesn't even need to be a badass. There aren't enough O's in cool to describe her.
Try waving next time and just saying, "hi, it's Poeme. Remember me? Nice to see you. Take care." If you are sure they know who you are, say, "Hi, Susan. Nice to see you." And see what happens. No need to stop and make small talk or anything if you don't really have something to say. What's the worst that will happen? Just try it and see.

(What is the nature of your fear? That they won't answer you?)
3b (with 3c tendencies) on modified CG

I get the same way. I'm not sure why. I've always hated small talk, and I hate having to stop what I'm doing to converse with someone that I don't know very well or care about. I'm a private person, and only let very few people get close close. With the rest, I just try to block them out. I feel like I already have a good enough circle of family/friends, so that's good enough for me - I shouldn't have to deal with the rest. So, I used to just do the small talk routine and go. But, recently, I've gotten to the point where I'm anxious around those people. I think a part of it is I've lost a good chunk of my social circle in the past few years - I feel like maybe now I have to give these people a chance. I've learned that socializing is an important part of life - I can't just do without it, and that makes me scared because I'm not skilled at it.
Banned
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 4,210
I know how you feel. I remember feeling weird when seeing my cousins or best friends when I was out somewhere in HS.

I guess you can think of it this way. Whether or not the person likes you or wants to talk to you, there is a chance that they might be offended if you don't say hello. I don't think anyone has ever been upset about being acknowledged in a very neutral way...in the "grown up" world. I should try to remember that myself.
I was wondering if there is anyone else who avoids places like Wal-mart or certain restaurants on Friday nights when they're likely to run into a lot of people they know. People around here will hang out at Wal-mart or go out to eat just to have something to do. It seems like I always need something at the shopping center on weekends, so I try to go at times where no one will be out, or I take someone with me. It's easier when there's someone else to balance out the conversation. I don't know why I get so phobic about it - I get anxious over seeing people who have nothing better to do than hang out at Wal-mart and people watch!

It was so much easier living in a big city in this respect. I didn't know hardly anyone, and even when I got to know people, I didn't grow up with them - there was no need for allota conversation. People want to know why I'm back in town, what I've been doing. It's hard to explain without getting into details that aren't exact shopping mall conversation material.

(What is the nature of your fear? That they won't answer you?)
Originally Posted by spiderlashes5000
(sigh) I'm not quite sure *what* my fear is. Some of my apprehension involves making small talk -- I'm excellent at in-depth discussions and one-on-one conversations. Small talk? I'm pretty much stumped after "Hello..."

A couple of times I've seen people in crosswalks/sidewalks while I am in car stopped in traffic. Both times were at night and both times I've made eye contact, but I'm never sure if these people actually can see me in my car. And if I wave I guess I am afraid of being snubbed/ignored and looking silly.

I guess I should interject at this point and mention that I am a pretty intense person and think about matters way too much.
Republicans for Voldemort (as seen on my bumper sticker)
I am the same way. I don't like to go back to stores that I have worked at because I feel like I have to acknowledge and say hi to the people there. But I feel invisibile in life and feel like perhaps they don't remember me. So I ignore them and end up feeling bad about it.
Well, if you're seeing the person outside of work/school, that opens up a conversation right there. "Hey! I didn't know you *liked this kind of movie* *attended this whatever* etc."

If you see them at the mall or out shopping during holiday season, then it's super easy: "Hey! How's your shopping coming?"

Then to end the conversation: "It was great seeing you! See you at work!"
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Rock on with your bad self.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Be excellent to each other. ~ Abraham Lincoln

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
I was wondering if there is anyone else who avoids places like Wal-mart or certain restaurants on Friday nights when they're likely to run into a lot of people they know.
Originally Posted by Kenzie_06
Hey Kenzie,

When I first moved here, I was still in school and I worked at a Borders. I quit several months ago. But I alway feel awkward going in because I worked up a pretty good rapport with my co-workers, but I grew so busy with my life after leaving, I didn't maintain relationships. Mostly however, just as you mentioned, I hate having to make conversation about what I'm currently doing, that type of thing. Not that I don't want to let them know about my life's goings-ons, but if I go to the bookstore now it's as a customer -- I need a book!
Republicans for Voldemort (as seen on my bumper sticker)
Well, if you're seeing the person outside of work/school, that opens up a conversation right there. "Hey! I didn't know you *liked this kind of movie* *attended this whatever* etc."

If you see them at the mall or out shopping during holiday season, then it's super easy: "Hey! How's your shopping coming?"

Then to end the conversation: "It was great seeing you! See you at work!"
Originally Posted by PartyHair
Yeah, keep it simple. My problem is that I complicate the issue; I *know* it's not difficult -- geez I overhear people casually acknowledging each other all the time. Thank you that was helpful.
Republicans for Voldemort (as seen on my bumper sticker)
I'm basically the same way. I'm going to try to explain this as well as I can, but as we all know, stuff doesn't always translate well from our heads to text.

I think it stems from me being afraid that they are trying to avoid me. I always hate coming off as really wanting to be friends with someone, when I'm not sure how these people feel about me. (I always wonder if they're thinking "Ohh boy, here she comes. Hurry, look away - maybe she won't see you!" or "Agh, there's that girl who's always trying to sit with us at ____.")
That and I'm afraid they'll ignore me if I say "hi", or they won't remember me. So it's mostly about rejection, I suppose.

So, I'd say I can relate to how you feel - whether or not it's for the same reasons. I don't think it's shallow, but it is something I need to get over. It's not really holding me back at anything, but I do wonder if these people also think I'm rude for not saying hi.

Sarah

"And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance
But you are not alone in this"

“My ability to turn good news into anxiety is rivaled only by my ability to turn anxiety into chin acne.” - Tina Fey
Well, if you're seeing the person outside of work/school, that opens up a conversation right there. "Hey! I didn't know you *liked this kind of movie* *attended this whatever* etc."

If you see them at the mall or out shopping during holiday season, then it's super easy: "Hey! How's your shopping coming?"

Then to end the conversation: "It was great seeing you! See you at work!"
Originally Posted by PartyHair
Yeah, keep it simple. My problem is that I complicate the issue; I *know* it's not difficult -- geez I overhear people casually acknowledging each other all the time. Thank you that was helpful.
Originally Posted by Poeme
I think the key is to try not to plan it all out in advance; try to avoid the "what if they say..." scenarios.

Which I know is easier said than done!
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Rock on with your bad self.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Be excellent to each other. ~ Abraham Lincoln

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
I do this as well. I am a shy person ( I know, what a shocker eh? ) but not painfully so. I avoid people partly because I am generally in a rush and I *HATE* the little dance of "OMG I haven't seen you in so long, wow you look great, what have you been up to, here's my cell, give me a call sometime and we'll go do something..." when 1) You didn't miss that person, and didn't want to see that person and you both feel that way and 2) you know neither of you will call the other and 3) you know neither of you will ever get together because you haven't. Ever.

I know that sounds mean, but I just don't have the time or patience for that sort of thing. The above applies mainly to people I went to HS with that I haven't seen in 4-5 years, and we both know we were never friends to begin with . As far as just acquaintances from work, etc. I don't mind to say hello and 'how are you' but I hate when you stand there and feel forced into a conversation. I've noticed a lot of people want to stand and talk for 15 minutes in the middle of a store about nothing and I'm too impatient for that, and it makes me feel so awkward.
Are these people ones you see everyday? I see at least 10 people I know when I go out on weekend because everyone goes to the same places.
It depends on who the person is.

If the person is one with me in uni but we never acknowledge each other in uni I either ignore them or say a small hi if we pass each other.

If it's a person I only had a few sentences with, same thing.

If it's someone I usually talk to, I need to stop and say something like: HI, what are you doing?
shopping? found anything?
Did you eat lunch...Im really hungry...Really?where did you eat?
ok, have fun shopping/eating/whatever
I agree with ParyHair - keep it simple. "Hi, how are you" to start. Then if you feel OK work yourself up to more conversations. There's a way to say "Hi" that sends the message "Hi, I'm being friendly but I can't stop to chat right now". And if you feel like you are starting to get roped into a conversation, just give a big smile and say "I'm sorry. I am running a little late/I have to get home/I'm meeting my mom/whatever excuse you can come up with. I t was nice to see you" and go.

As far as worrying about rejection and such, try not to think about it too much. If someone rejects you after a simple "Hi" and smile then it's not about you, it's about them. Either they are being a jerk for whatever reason, or they are preoccupied with something. You can't control how people will react to you, and you shouldn't expect to.
To Trenell, MizKerri and geeky:
I pray none of you ever has to live in a communist state.

Geeky is my hero. She's the true badass. The badass who doesn't even need to be a badass. There aren't enough O's in cool to describe her.
I actually took your advice earlier Geeky and looked up some online resources, which I am not sure why I didn't before -- I've Google-d just about every other topic in my life.

Anyways, I found some interesting stuff, that helped.

I am so ridiculously (frustratingly) sensitive and intense, I get overly-concerned about responses/offenses etc. I actually found some resources for people that are considered literally "highly sensitive". I just couldn't get more weird.


Thanks for all the responses!
Republicans for Voldemort (as seen on my bumper sticker)
I just couldn't get more weird.
Originally Posted by Poeme
weird is good.
It's those normal folks you have to worry about.
seriously. normal people give me the heebie jeebies.

y'know maybe you are focusing too much on making the first move.
If you're kinda shy, don't pressure yourself into initiating conversation.
Why aren't THEY saying anything first? Know what I mean? Just goes to show you we're kind of all afraid of rejection to varying degrees. Even little tiny rejections... So think about that next time you are in this situation. Think about the other person being afraid of you rejecting THEM. That might make you feel a little less anxious.

good luck.
Banned
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 4,210
Although I think a person should say hello when they see someone that they know, I find absolutely nothing wrong with avoiding a shopping center or grocery store during busy times. Nor do I find anything wrong with going to a place where you don't know anyone.

I think everyone has a right to their privacy that way. It makes things easier and more peaceful sometimes.

But, there is something to be said with making friends and building a network of support in your town or community by letting people get to know you. Of course, there will always be jerks that you have to navigate through, but the rewards of making contact with people in a positive way probably outweigh that. I feel like a hypocrite because this part is hard for me personally...due to past experiences...but this has nothing to do with you.
Sounds like you have....

Social Phobia

The fear of embarrassment makes some people avoid certain ordinary social or performance situations—like public speaking, going to parties, eating in restaurants, writing in front of others, or using public restrooms. People with a social phobia feel so threatened by certain situations that they either avoid them completely or suffer terribly when they cannot avoid them.
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