Thursday, 5 April 2012

Chrysalis to Butterfly - the first step

A wise person recently told me that 'everyone has an interesting story to tell'.

It got me thinking, a lot. I can't disagree with this theory at all. It's more than a theory, it's undoubtedly true. But the conversation that prompted that insight came from me acknowledging that I rarely, if ever, get talking to strangers - whether out in a bar, at a party or even out at the shops. I don't necessarily mean starting a conversation but if someone tries to talk to me, I often don't really respond beyond polite acknowledgement before high-tailing it out of the conversation, or bar, or area.

How many interesting stories have I missed out on in my life, simply because I haven't taken the trouble to talk to someone I've not yet met?

Bethan and I... not talking. ;)

When I was younger, I was quite introverted and wrapped up in my own little world. And actually, I've recently come to realise that I still am, a lot of the time. I came out of my shell a lot as a teenager, embracing dressing alternatively and growing my little circle of friends and acquaintances, but in recent years after going through some hard stuff, I think I've gone back into it... a little more each time I've been hurt. With friends (most of the time - see below), at work events (when I have to put on an 'act') and online, I'm fine. But put me in an unfamiliar social situation and I quite often am not.

Two separate people I am very close to recently told me, independently, that they often see me clam up and that I can be terribly hard work to talk to sometimes. That instead of interacting, I just sit wrapped up in my own thoughts and let them talk until they run out of steam (or give up on trying to get me to join in, whichever comes first). It sounds pretty exhausting, to be fair. I also occasionally get social anxiety that results in me sitting in a corner, trying and sometimes failing, not to cry/run away/both. And even when I'm not feeling anxious, I'm just not that great at making small talk with complete strangers or even casual acquaintances or friends of friends, often leading to people thinking I am unfriendly or aloof.

Or rather, they don't think it. I probably am being unfriendly and aloof.

See? Keeping my distance.

Sometimes it's genuine shyness. And even when it isn't, it's not that I have the conscious thought that talking to a particular person doesn't have any 'value' to me, but in hindsight it might well be that - I very often don't talk to people who are much older, younger or just plain different to me as I think I won't have anything interesting to say to them, or them to me. Or I'm scared they'll think I'm a loser or a dork (which I am). And when I do get into an exchange with someone new, even if I think we could get on, I will likely guard my conversation for the same reasons, offering up very little of myself and thus not giving nor eliciting much information, probably putting off potential new friends or lovers in the process. And missing who-knows-how-many of the aforementioned interesting stories.

I did an experiment yesterday and made conversation with a random middle-aged man at a swimming pool. He turned out to be a fencer. I need my fence fixing. I took his details and will now get a good deal on some fencing (cash job, innit). OK, it's not an 'interesting' outcome, but it's a bloody useful one!

I know without any doubt that I want and need to change myself for the better. I am carrying around a lot of baggage from life events over the last couple of years and I've no doubt at all that said baggage has had an adverse effect on my behaviour and thus my life, perpetuating the baggage. It's like an M. C. Escher infinity of baggage. Now the word baggage looks weird. Anyway!

People can't alter their personalities easily but I planned to be a better me this year. On the more superficial side, I've lost 7lbs (must do an update on my blog about health from a while back!) and got back into running recently. I've bought some new (and new vintage) clothes for the first time in ages. But most crucially, I've made an appointment with a very highly-recommended lady who will hopefully help me talk through my fears and unpick a brand new me from the tangle of the old one. A phoenix from the ashes of my old self. Or a butterfly from the chrysalis of the person I can be. Let's see where it takes me.

I know this is meant to be a blog about vintage and I don't often go too much into my personal life, but I just felt I had something a bit different to say today. I would love to hear any stories or anecdotes about psychotherapy from any of you readers out there as it's something that holds much more stigma in the UK than it does in, say, the US, where it seems as normal as going to the dentist. I'm scared but I'm also excited.

Are you strangely reluctant to chat to strangers and sometimes even your own friends or family!? I'm sure it can't be just me.

Fleur xx
DiaryofaVintageGirl.com

122 comments:

  1. Yeah I always feel like I "can't be bothered" or "too lazy" to talk to strangers. The funny thing is, when I do, they end up being more interesting than the usual people I talk to! Hahahah maybe it's the perks of not really knowing them personally? I try to talk to strangers every now and then, but sometimes it's too much effort hahahah! Maybe it's part of getting older?

    Nora
    NoraFinds

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're right on both counts!

      Delete
  2. This is a brave post - I really like it. It can be hard to do this sort of personal assessment.

    Good luck with the changes you want to make!

    One comment I have, from listening to a lot of people who have had psychotherapy and counselling, is that you have to find the right therapist. The lady who comes highly recommended may be absolutely brilliant but not the right fit for you. Which is not at all a failure on either side. It can take some time to find the right person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I have met the lady once now and I think she is fab so let's see what happens!

      Delete
  3. I think you are incredibly brave. Acknowledging and then starting the steps to get you in the direction you'd like to be is awesome. My best friend is a lot like you, so I can totally understand. <3

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think I'm better at talking to strangers when I'm with someone- I have a few friends who, when we go out together, we always end up striking up conversation with randoms. I guess it is intimidating to do it by yourself. I often use work as an excuse- as if I'm researching- for example when I went on that swing dance weekend I first met you on, I was by myself and didn't know anyone, but just got talking to everyone because being there as a journo was sort of my 'excuse'.
    I've been in therapy for the last year and it's been incredible- I was so lucky that the first therapist I tried was amazing. let me know if you'd like her details. There is still a stigma about it the UK which is ridiculous as it's so useful, I feel like a much healthier person in all my relationships now. And therapy has saved my boyfriend from depression over the years and therefore our relationship too. Can't recommend it enough.
    xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't realise you were there on your own! Yeah, work is a perfect prompt to do it, I find it so much easier. Thanks for sharing your story my lovely, I had no idea and it cheers me. Also we should get together more often :) x

      Delete
  5. I guess it goes to show that you can't judge someone at first appearances. You always seem so self-assured and confident and I never would have guessed you had social anxiety issues. I too suffer from them and even talking with friends and family can be incredibly difficult at times. But I will work through this! As will you! Hurrah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, it sometimes surprises me too, to be honest. The anxiety is fairly rare, but when it strikes it does so hard. We shall see! Thank you!

      Delete
  6. I'm terrible with small talk due to my social anxiety. It leads some people to think I'm rude, which I absolutely hate because I know I'm a nice person! I can't talk on the phone to anybody except my partner, mother and two brothers. I even feel awkward chatting to my maternal grandparents- That's how socially anxious I am!

    My mum is the complete opposite. She's one of those people who talks to everybody and anybody. She strikes up conversation in the supermarket queue, at the petrol station, waiting for a train... You name it. I wish I could be more like her, but the thought of talking to somebody in that situation makes me queasy!

    Becky
    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mum is the same! Sometimes I think I inherited none of the more 'useful' things, like marginally OCD cleaning and talking to strangers ;)

      Delete
  7. I had therapy about a decade ago, and it was fantastic. (Anxiety disorder.) When you're ready to talk and have the right therapist to talk to, it can really change things so much for you. Good luck with your sessions!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I know people who have thought I was very stuck up and arrogant because I find small talk challenging. I think it's worst with people you vaguely know (a friend of a friend, a work colleague) than with strangers. However with strangers I can be lazy when I could be meeting soemone new and having an interesting conversation.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am really quiet too. My shyness is somewhat similar to yours. It makes me nervous to talk to strangers because I feel like I'll say something stupid or they won't like me. Good for you to try to change! I've been much more outgoing than I was in high school but I feel like it isn't enough. You've inspired me to try a bit harder!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I find it challenging to be an introvert in an extroverted society. I, too, am shy and reticent in 'real' life. Small talk is challenging for me, too. Social anxiety can be crippling and it's not very accepted by the general public, making it harder for natural introverts to be understood and accepted.

    When I do talk to strangers, I always gravitate toward the unusual people (the oddballs - like me! LOL!) as I find them more approachable and interesting. 'Normal' folks are intimidating!! Congratulations on chatting with your fencer - well done!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here... in fact I did get chatting to a psychobilly-esque stranger the other day..,so much easier!

      Delete
  12. That's funny, that's the second post I've seen on this subject today in completely unrelated blogs, must be something in the air!

    I get terrible social anxiety, but I often drink too much to deal with it (and sometimes just because I like a drink!) and then torture myself for days about whether I was an idiot and how stupid people must have thought I was. I also sometimes feel like I have to be the life and soul and make sure everyone else has a fabulous time, and people think I'm more outgoing than I really am when I find social situations exhausting.

    We always perceived everyone else to be more organised, sorted and together than us I think, when in reality everyones just struggling to get through the day. Good luck with the psychotherapy thing, I hope it's of use to you. I know a lot of people who've found talking therapies really useful. I've never done it myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely didn't think it of you - oh the blessing an curse of blogs!

      Delete
  13. See, the thing with twitter is, having just a few minutes, you can click on a name, then someone in their timeline, then a comment, then follow a link to who-knows-where.

    And find yourself reading something Interesting and really good Value which makes a Positive impact on your day...if only you had more than a few minutes. Written by someone really interesting who is clearly bursting with value and full of lots of positive powers.

    Anyway, good luck with everything; and try not to be too shy - whoever you are talking to is REALLY lucky :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am just a nervous person in general. I have a hard time introducing myself to others, to be able to take that first step of meeting somebody new. And even then, once I'm talking to them, I find myself worrying that they'll realize I am "weird" or somehow undesirable. Im trying to push myself though, live in the moment and not let my fears stop me. I'm still often silenced by my worries, but I'm starting to realize that people are more like me than I could have thought. It's a wonderful feeling :) I am quite frankly surprised to hear that you would have a hard time talking to strangers, you seem like the quintessential Social butterfly! But I think we're all a bit nervous deep down, some people just don't let us see it! Good for you for trying to overcome it, you will undoubtedly succeed.Good luck on your new journey, you beautiful lively flower <3 I can't imagine anybody thinking you a dork,and if they do, they'll only want to be one like you ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I often am said butterfly but now the shyness has overtaken so it's time to change! Thank you.

      Delete
  15. I went to therapy a couple of years. It helped me a lot. I always knew what I needed to change in my personality and my "lady" helped me with it.

    I am a very difficult person (for myself). There seems to be no rule which controlls me. Sometimes I talk too much and tell everybody everything and other times I am just silent and don't talk at all.

    Every day I realise that it's great deal to change for the better. I hope you will feel better as soon as possible.

    Betty

    ReplyDelete
  16. I myself was also very shy, sometimes really helpless against foreigners. and I have a lot of baggage! a therapy prior years helped me a lot - and helping me still.
    I think it's very brave of you!

    ReplyDelete
  17. As a therapist myself I'm a bit biased, but I say embrace it! I hope that therapy will help you to find a way to honour your authentic slightly introverted/shy self, without letting social anxiety hold you back from discovering wonderful things in life. Have fun with it!

    ReplyDelete
  18. You've described me to a T! I'm even a hermit in my home and hardly ever leave, preferring my own company. I notice that when I am around other people, I answer all their questions about me but ask none about them.

    I don't know how esoteric you are, but check out http://belindadavidson.com, you may be interested in her unique ability.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I absolutely and totally relate to this. Whenever I am with family or close friends I know well, I am usually fine, but throw in just even one or two new people and I will most likely not engage conversations to the same level.

    I've been told by a previous boss that I 'lacked passion' and seemed 'standoffish', when in fact I was in a job that I loved & I see myself as someone who is always willing to help - it can be very frustrating when being introvert is misinterpreted as something quite different.

    I constantly think everyone else is more interesting, cooler, less boring than I am, so I too avoid talking to new people. Definitely something I know I need to work on. So I totally relate - and hope it gets better for you soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think people have thought that of me more than once... I am confident it's changeable though... let's see!

      Delete
  20. That's me all over. It took a lot of guts for me to contact you, the Vintage Mafia and Shona to see if I could meet you lovely ladies while I was visiting the UK last summer. I was terrified that you would all thing me weird, a stalker or something, but I was pleasantly surprised that you didn't and you all were incredibly kind to me. I only wish that it was so hard and expensive to visit the UK more often because I had such a lovely time with you and wish we could become better acquainted and maybe become friends. I guess my point in the above ramble is that as much as it was hard for me to step out of my comfort zone, it really did allow me to make some lovely connections across the pond. Thank you for that.

    I will say, I find it easier to talk to people when I'm hiding behind a mask or costume as it were: when I'm in my 1940's persona, when I do any sort of reenacting, basically when I'm pretending not to be me then I have the confidence to do things. It's probably not the smartest thing, but it is what works for me now.

    As for the baggage, I'm right there with you on the tons of baggage dragging me down. I never went to therapy as I was afraid of what sort of stigma it would put on me (and I'm in the US). Should I probably have and probably still should? Yes. I think what has helped me let go of the baggage was just to make a point to step out of my comfort zone. It's never easy for me. There are times I don't even talk to my family (or didn't. I better about it now). I will say it took me quite a lot of time to get where I am today.

    I wish you all the best! I agree with another of the commenters above. It is a very brave thing you are doing and I think you will grow from it. And, kudos to you for talking to the gentleman at the pool. Sorry for such a long ramble.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad to hear that you had such a lovely time - warms my heart! :) I hope you can come back or us visit you one day. Agree with you about stepping out of your comfort zone... and thanks for your lovely and not at all rambly comment x

      Delete
  21. Ohhh Fleur, we are so alike! People often mistake my shyness for arrogance when I'm out with people I don't know. I feel that sometimes, because I don't keep up with what 'normal' people like, I have very little to talk to strangers about. It's odd seeing as my job is talking to people and selling things, but I put on an act for that!

    I can imagine that you are completely lovely though! Good luck and have fun furthering the Fleur-ness!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have had social anxiety since I was a teenager and therapy has helped me a lot. I'd recommend doing a bit of research on the different types of therapy, as I've found that finding the right kind of therapy is just as important as finding the right therapist.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Sometimes I am very chatty and sometimes I'm just silent and almost in a trance! I have a bit of anxiety (not social so much as general) so I'm either thinking about something very hard (and don't want to be disturbed) or worrying hehe.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think this is a very important post, perhaps because this is something that I have been consciously living with for the last year. I have always been quiet, to the point that my sixth form tutor opened up her supporting statement for my university application by pointing this out!

    It takes a lot to acknowledge this, more to speak about it and even more to do something about it. The key thing I have learnt is that if you want to change you have to change because you want to, not because society or other people are encouraging you too. I haven't had therapy but did get myself a coach. It is best money I ever spent. I'm not fully there with talking happily with strangers but I now can have a conversation with friends of friends without feeling as anxious as I did. I'm starting to overcome my shyness and realise that I have something to say to people. Just asking questions about the other person is a great way to get a conversation started.

    My coach sent me this TED video (hopefully you can stick with it to the end): http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html
    It made me realise that it is ok to be an introvert, in fact we are needed. But at the same time I want to overcome my shyness more. Thanks for sharing your feelings. It is always reassuring to know there are others out there who feel the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A couple of people have sent me the link to that video, I need to watch it! Thank you :)

      Delete
  25. Well... I've followed your blog for a couple of years now, I found it looking for stuff on vintage style and enjoyed what you've had to say and your photographs and information. But... I'm a heterosexual man in a wonderful stable relationship and about to hit 60 in a month’s time!
    Reading this post, I know all too well what you mean. I understand your difficulties with talking to others and some people's perception of what sort of person you are if you don't. Sometimes (and it has taken my partner of seventeen years a long time to realise this) if I have little or nothing to say to people it just because I have nothing to say, it's not a reflection on those people.
    When I was younger, I was shy but as time has gone on I always found it hard to make 'small talk'.
    My work (I am self-employed and help people with their computers) I can chat away, but I know it’s an act and an act I can't do socially.
    Over the years it has bothered me, sometimes when my partner and I are having a meal out or even just together at home we say little to each other - not because we don't want to, there is just nothing to be said! She has got more used to this, as she is not like it - she can chat away to anyone about almost anything when required!
    So Fleur - no answers, but just wanted you know there are others who feel the same way! Keep blogging!

    Mike

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Mike for your feedback and your support!

      Delete
  26. I totally know where you're coming from. It is not just you. I have always been on the shy side and I too have been carrying around a lot of baggage from the past couple of years and from my earlier life. It's taken me finally dealing with my clinical depression seriously and getting medication for me to be able to work on myself again. I'm using the audio & hard copy book Radical Forgiveness to help with the healing process. I'm just starting to do the worksheets on it. I really hope it works.

    I wish you much success on your journey! :)

    ReplyDelete
  27. I soooo feel the same at so many levels!! Every day seems like a struggle sometimes. But when you meet a person, that breaks that shell/wall we build around us, the feeling that comes out of that, is the best thing ever !!! It satisfies you for days !! Good luck, you seem like a lovely lady !! xx hanne

    ReplyDelete
  28. Thank you for this post! I am quite the opposite in temperament than you. My philosophy is that there are so many interesting people in the world, I want to know them all! I do guard myself upon new acquaintance, to be sure that there is no hidden agenda on their part.

    Good for you being brave to try to improve yourself. So many people never take the time for reflection to see where they may have shortcomings. I think you will only enhance your life by making these changes. xxKim

    ReplyDelete
  29. I'm quite the opposite (my dad's great in social situations, particularly with strangers - I must have picked it up from him!)

    However sometimes I start conversations in order to break any awkward silences, plus I think it's partly out of a want to make people like me. Gosh, it sounds like I have SERIOUS issues when I put it that way, but as you say you find out some pretty interesting stuff, just from a friendly hello and general chit-chat.

    Good luck with everything, and congratulations on the weight-loss (not that you needed it!)

    www.mancunianvintage.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahah, no, you sound issue-less to me :)

      Delete
  30. See, I've met you just the once, at one of those awkward social situations, and you were very lovely to chat with. I think I recognised the same awkwardness I feel in those situations, so I imagine we were quite equally matched in that sense (and I can imagine you might have thought the same of me). I've given up trying to work out what other people think of me, most people seem to think I'm stuck up when really I'm just shy, so perversely I'm much more chatty these days (and now I suspect people think I'm a rambling fool...).

    I love getting into random conversations with people, on trains or at events mainly, but my problem is the 'follow up' when someone gives you their number or email address and you have to have the guts to keep it up (which is harder when I don't have a glass of wine in hand and my make-up/clothing armour on)...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't notice any awkwardness in you either, so I think you're right. And I totally agree with the courage of the follow-up - I am so busy most of the time that I forget to email friends let alone forge new friendships over email! Sigh. I hope you are doing ok lady xx

      Delete
  31. I know the feeling! I was terribly shy all through my childhood and teenage years, but because everyone was so used to my quiet, nervous temperament whenever I tried to break out of that cage and be more confident, they'd all make a big deal of it which in turn would just make me shy away even more.
    It was refreshing to start uni and be around people who didn't have any preconceptions about me, it allowed me to be a lot more (well, a little bit more) confident.

    Good luck to you dear :) xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, and to you with continuing confidence!

      Delete
  32. Hi Fleur
    I think its very brave of you to confront your social awkwardness. I too am social awkward and am very anxious when meeting new people. I think that perhaps a lot of bloggers are that's why they turn to blogging as an outlet and I think that a lot more people feel this way when meeting new people than you would realise.

    I was horribly shy as a child and barely said two words at school but I find these days if you almost force yourself to interact with people it become easier over time. It is hard in the UK though I think people are naturally defensive there so if you strike up a conversation with a stranger its almost seen as weird.

    When I moved to Australia it took me a while to get over the fact that random strangers would just strike up conversations in trains, elevators etc

    Best of luck with the psychotherapy and I hope you keep us all updated on the blog as its very inspiring to read x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, you often hear how strange it is for aussies to come here and have the opposite. I think forcing myself a little is the key...thankyou!

      Delete
  33. Hey sweets, just want you to know we're proud of you, realizations like this arent pleasant but they give us the opportunity move forward. im dealing with something similiar at the mo, sometimes its a case of i really cant be bothered, but realisticlly it takes a few sentences to move beyond that. im also a bit of a narcissit thinking that what im.thinking is much more interesting than what other peeps are talking about.( curb ur enthusism make a great joke about this "ive got shy/asshole confusion") being insular is annoying. ways to combat shyness: you are intersting and worthy, if u make a social faux pas who cares! if they are that judgemental that they will shun u immediately (our worst fear) then they are just bad eggs.lol imagine you are the person you want to be and act accordingly, that helps. also with psychotherapy as rad as it is talking about ur sen for years on end, soloutions, getting down to core issues, and action is something that cant be overlooked. all your blog readers and fans support you and im sure are a bit surprised that you have social anxiety, bcoz u just seem so.fab, anyway any new social interactions dont need to have all your baggage accompany it, you can say no im gonna ignore all my negative mental B.S. xoxoxox

    ReplyDelete
  34. Also small talk for introverts is annoying but u have to move past that bcoz most peeps dont just spill theyre guts straight to a d&m u need to warm each other up, small talk is where u find what u have in common, common factors make it easier to chat, at first dont worry about being interesting just talk. this is for me just as much as it is for u x

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thank you for being brave enough to write this. I know it's not easy because I've dealt with the same type of problem. Find a good therapist to talk out your problems with, deal with the past, and connect with those around you. I've learned that I have a lot more in common with people I didn't think were anything like me. I still lapse into silence at gatherings sometimes but I've also learned that making the effort to chat gets easier with practice. When it becomes difficult I try to remember what my sister taught me. Everyone has their story, their secret hardships, fears, etc. EVERYONE. Some people just hide their problems better. Hang in there. You're gonna be a beautiful butterfly.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I'm a bit like that and a bit the obnoxious stranger others try to avoid! It's situational for me, I guess. At a party where I don't really know anyone, I'll stick with the person or couple of people I do know and not engage others much. If I go to a work conference or something, I pretty much sit quietly alone. But, I do go out alone a fair bit, and I'm perfectly happy to chat with folks while sitting at the bar (I went on holiday in Ireland for about two weeks by myself and met all sorts of fun people while out). But lordy, if someone tries to talk to me on a plane or when I'm just trying to eat by myself, I am the picture of polite avoidance. So, basically, I'm weird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I think I'm the same as you!! Though going out alone is more on a work basis. Maybe I should try it!

      Delete
  37. At first I'm really shy too, I don't like talking to people but for my job I meet a lot of strangers. However, I always play safe by being polite and such. Sometimes people will stop me from working because they keep on rambling and they tell me a bit about their personal life.
    Then I start "defrosting" a little bit....

    fashionistainthedark.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. Wow I had no idea that getting professional help carried a stigma in the U.K. I live in Southern California and quite honestly the first piece of advice we are given to help solve any type of personal/relational/professional problem is to seek counseling/therapy. I have the same issue as well, and while I didn't seek professional help, I took a personal developement class during college and it's helped me to improve. I wish you all the luck!!

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi Fleur,
    This is a really gutsy post and has particular relevance to me and it seems others at the moment.

    *Warning high density of over analytical drivel ahead...make a u-turn when possible*

    Presentation and appearance comprise the foremost perception from others about personality and however unsettling it is, can be quite often conflict each other. For instance, if someone approaches an individual who is uniquely or boldly dressed their expectation for this to be reflected in personality is raised. However, when this expectation fails to be met and it feels as though the conversation is stuck in banal small talk, subsequently interest is lost from both party's despite the good intent initially levied from one another.

    In consequence, I often get the feeling that unique and creative image gets tarnished from the stand point of the person who originally started to converse out of intrigue. This usually leads to the illusionary label of being 'odd' being slapped on your forehead by them because socially you don't meet their standards or fulfil the check-list of their social norms (dressing and acting normally).

    Frequent personal experience of this has heightened my social anxiety. This has ultimately lead me to make attempts to manage this empty, emotionless feeling via overeating and binging on food of which effects otherwise wouldn't be recognised from an appearance standpoint.Although my intentions are good to make more of an effort I can never seize sustained motivation to make amends so am stuck in the endless cycle.

    Though on a more positive note I'm just hoping Spring will officially be sprung, this will uplift my mood and I can get out the slumber this eternal winter has induced...but for now...


    ...Stay cheery, be happy and keeeep 'a blogin!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's exactly it - people think I'll be super vivacious then when I'm not it comes across as stand-offishness. I hope you can break the cycle too :)

      Delete
  40. A lot of replies here and we all have the same "shyness" etc, maybe there's more of us on here because the internet is easy for us lot to use, the more gregarious are out there being....well, gregarious?

    My thought about you Fleur, is that maybe you're more guarded in your vintage "dos" because you are an online persona and you're wary of peoples motives who may come and talk to you? Or maybe I'm talking drivel?! LOL!

    I was horrifically shy as a teen, anyone could talk to me and I'd go bright red, (which then ensued the "oooh, you've gone red" comments which NEVER helped people!) I don't seem to do that much at all now (thank goodness!) but I do find myself having little internal monologues when there's a group of people chatting. I also sometimes find myself half way through a story and I'll suddenly think "gosh, I sound so boring/droney, this needs to stop."
    But, saying that I can do small talk to strangers, I just can't seem to continue past the "bus is late" or "weather's a bit rough" bit. My downfall is only having one friend, there are others I know but I'm too fearful to start trying to be pally with them....oh hark at me. LOL!!

    So, introverts unite it would seem! Good luck with your therapist though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, the internet has a lot to answer for! I think I do feel a little like that at dos. I hope you can get over your fears too... good luck to us!

      Delete
  41. Hi Fleur, A brilliant and honest post, I am an extrovert and have always been, I for some strange reason can talk to strangers and have had many an unexpectedly nice conversations with a total stranger (some I have become friends with some have simply moved on out of my life, but in a good way I know I have made someone laugh/cheered someone up with my unusual outlook on life) however, I struggle with the fact that people find this behaviour "odd" and have had numerous counselling sessions as I have struggled with my mental health for years. Don't fear the idea of Psychotherapy, it has done me wonders and even though I suffer from low self esteem a lot of the time I have had a lot of lovely experiences by being brave and just putting myself out there. You can do it lovely lady, all the best with the Therapist x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So interesting that we can be so confident and yet have low self-esteem and the opposite too. The lady told me that my 'sense of self' was lacking, and I am sur I can work on it. Thank you so much for commenting x

      Delete
  42. Hi Fleur, I met you on a couple of occasions and spoke to you albeit briefly and you appeared to be perfectly normal; sufficiently outgoing and friendly.
    Now , it may be stating the obvious, but if you can cope with a short conversation all you have to do then is make lots of short conversations and join the dots, or you could do as I do and spout complete and utter nonsense, as I may have just done!
    Either way I wish you all the best.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Joe! I'm glad I didn't come across to you as rude :)

      Delete
  43. You're SO not alone! Shy/anxious introverts for the win!
    Sandra

    ReplyDelete
  44. I used to be very shy and not talk to strangers, but other people always seemed to be attracted to me and it takes just some short eye-contact to set them off. I found I liked talking to strangers so much, that I am now retraining as a social worker!

    Wish you good luck on your new life!!

    xxx
    Inez

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh, what a transofrmation! Thanks for sharing :)

      Delete
  45. I have generalized anxiety disorder so public outings and events can be difficult. I sometimes find myself trapped in my own head or feeling panicky. Talking to someone who specialized in anxiety disorders really helped me understand myself better and made me more aware of myself. Even being aware of a tendency to withdraw in social settings can make a bid difference because you will be more likely to be in the moment and less inside your head. Lots of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Your post really moved me. I'm a twentysomething vintage-loving lass who's also a trainee psychotherapist, and has thus been in twice-weeky therapy for a couple of years. It can be really hard work sometimes, but without a doubt it's the best thing I've ever done. I think the fact that you're a runner will help you to approach it with the right mindset - that you have to put something in to get something out, and that it's not a quick fix. Changing your life and yourself takes time, effort and courage, but if you really want to do it, you will. Promise.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the input - I like the runner analogy though i got to the point with running where I didn't want to put anything in for a bit... got over it though! Thank you so much :)

      Delete
  47. I enjoyed your post very much. As a fellow introvert, I understand your dilemma. I found counseling to be very helpful in sorting out some of my insecurities. There is still quite a bit of a stigma about therapy in the US, but I discovered it to be so helpful that I often find myself encouraging others to try it with more boldness than I usually have in most social situations! I recommend the book "Quiet:The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain. She did a Ted Talk if you want to check her out before buying the book. I love her perspective on introverted-ness and how it is a strength, not a weakness or a flaw.

    I love your blog, and I would love to see more vintage hair videos. My victory rolls are still a work in progress, but they're coming along!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I must check out that Ted talk. Thank you so much!

      Delete
  48. hi fleur,
    slightly off the topic,
    just saw your picture today in the German edition of the magazine Burda,
    the one from tweed run 2010 where you look so lovely with red tights and that gorgeous hat,
    just wanted to tell you in case you didn't know,

    love your blog, especially your tutorials, you are such pleasure to watch and listen to,
    x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh cool! I had no idea!!! Will try and track it down!

      Delete
  49. I've enjoyed your blog for about a year now, and I just wanted to encourage you to continue to share posts like this. The thing that I love about blogs are that there are *real people* behind them. So not only are you beautiful and you post great vintage things -- I feel more connected to you when I read a post like this. And that's what keeps me reading. Good luck! And thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words - I shall. Fluff posts are easy, these not so much but the reaction has been phenomenal!

      Delete
  50. Vancouver Vintage Fan8 April 2013 at 21:23

    Take the MBTI test - it will change your life. Seriously. Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator. I've done this twice via work, and it absolutely nails your personality. Will also let you know that there are no 'right' or 'wrong' types of person - introverts are as good as extroverts and society needs both types to function properly. Cannot recommend doing the MBTI enough.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Fleur. This is really enlightening for me as a regular reader of your blog. It's always a little bit strange reading the ins and outs of someones wardrobe or their fabulous job, all of a sudden you think you know that person a little more than you really do. It surprises me that you clam up as you say. But I'm also a bit relieved as I am incredibly similar! I sing and prance around a stage with no concern for what people may think, but then in front of certain social circles I go very quiet, halt conversation and (apparently) leave a terrble first impression. I've been called rude, blunt, direct, mardy etc and I've actually offended people. I was mortified at this as I would never intentionally be rude to anybody.

    I find it a really strange part of my personality, I can chat up a guy in a bar no problem. I went to Berlin last week and made friends with a street artist who has incredible stories to tell but then I can be so down right socially awkward too. I think it's laziness sometimes. I just can't be bothered to meet new people and be all "nicey nice" and ask boring questions like "What did you do at uni?". Maybe I feel I'm better than those people who have nothing to offer immediately? Or that I won't bond with somebody who doesn't behave the way I do?

    So in short (or in long really) I have no answers. But you've made me feel a bit better about my own unintentional social faux pas. If thats what they are.

    Thanks Fleur x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seems a lot of us are the same... or maybe absolutely everyone is in some way ;) glad to have made you feel a little better and good luck to both of us!

      Delete
  52. For me, it is very easy to make a little joke, make small talk or compliment strangers, especially when we are together in an elevator or in line. Even if it seems like I would have nothing in common with the person, I can usually think of something to say or some topic to discuss. Then, we go our separate ways, and I don't have to worry about ever seeing them again. So I don't care if they think I'm weird or different.

    What also helps me is to have a smile on my face. It makes me much more approachable. I also understand how hard it is for people to put themselves out there, so I always smile and talk to people if they approach me or if men try to ask me out. (It does not feel good to be rejected.) However, I make sure that I am in a safe situation and that the other person is being respectful, and does not have salacious ulterior motives.

    It also helps that I have a genuine desire to learn more about others. So it is easy for me to ask questions of strangers and let them know in turn how I relate to them. When I meet my brother's nerdy friends, I sometimes ask them somewhat forward questions, like if they have girlfriends. My brother sometimes chastises me, but his friends don't mind, and actually like talking to me, because they can tell I'm asking because I genuinely am interested in them. I remember what they've told me and the next time I see them, even months later, I follow up and ask them about it.

    I do this at church, as well. I enjoy making others feel special and valued.

    This openness/curiosity/passion is one of my best traits. It has allowed me to really bond with my students and encourage them to succeed; communicate with their non-English speaking parents because smiles and encouragement overcome all language barriers; and communicate my passion to help others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing - such interesting stories on here!

      Delete
  53. I am exactly the same.....not shy at work. In social situations I'm just plain awkward.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hi Fleur.

    I know exactly how you and the others feel. I have a hard time talking with people. But mostly with people I know. Like the 2 girls I work with. They are very nice. I try to participate in their conversations, but sometimes I feel like i am butting in.

    I do better with talking to the patients who come in the office (I'm a medical assistant). I don't know that is easier. Maybe because I only see them for a few minutes at a time. It's easy to talk about mundane things like the weather, or asking them about work or their families, etc. The patients think the world of me. I've gotten small token gifts from some of them at Christmas time because i am so helpful and kind to them. This is one of my best traits.

    I just can't maintain conversations with people for a long time. I feel awkward and out of place. I don't really have any friends because I suck at making friends. People will usually only befriend me when they need or want something from me. I do better with chatting with people on the computer because I can take the time to fashion my response and read over the conversation so I don't seem like an idiot.

    I hate having to call people. Even people I know. My husband will call his daughter and hand me the phone. He tells her "Momma Linda" wants to say hi. I love this girl to pieces. Her and I get along so well. But trying to come up with a conversation on the phone... ugh. Same with my father-in-law and sister-in-law.

    Sometimes when my husband and I are out, I wil do ok in social settings. Maybe because I have him there for "back up". It also helps if I have a bit of alcohol in me. Kind of loosens me up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, I'm the same with booze. Thanks for your story!

      Delete
  55. I'm learning slowly but surely myself to get over my shyness/awkwardness. What helped me was four things: 1. Reading the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People," which was written in the '30s but is still remarkably relevant today; 2. One of my grandma's favorite sayings: "Closed mouths don't get fed," which is supposed to be about asking for things, but I expanded it to just mean you never know who you're going to run into or converse with; 3. I have 'bitch-face,' my normal facial expression that is constantly perceived by others as being stuck-up or bitchy; and 4. Just realizing that I have absolutely no reason to be shy. I'm a nice person, I'm fun to talk to, and I want to listen to you.

    I'm not all the way there yet, but starting conversations with random people was the best way for me to come out of my shell. I used to think that I was taking up people's time and that they wouldn't want to be bothered with me, and I'm finding out that they totally want to be bothered with me as long as I smile.

    http://jordansvintagekitchen.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lol my husband is ALWAYS saying that.. "a closed mouth don't get fed"! It's probably his favorite saying!!

      I know how you feel about assuming that people don't want to be bothered with you and feeling like you're just taking up their time. It's an awful feeling. But there's a saying.."Don't ASSUME..it makes an ASS out of U and ME." How true that is!!

      Delete
    2. Hehe at 'bitchface' - I'm sure you don;t! But that book is a famous one... I'l check it out. Thanks for tips!

      Delete
  56. Oh my goodness, Fleur! It is an absolute relief to hear someone else feels exactly as I do! I am currently backpacking around the world (in Vietnam as we speak) and whilst I absolutely love travelling and wouldn't trade this opportunity for anything, I'm finding the social side increasingly difficult. I am travelling with 3 other girls much more extroverted than me so you can imagine how awkward I feel when they make small talk with strangers and I, like you, 'clam up.' I really hope speaking to someone will help you! I'm planning on doing the same when I'm back. Anyway, sorry for the massive ramble, it just meant a lot to read something which sums up my personality so perfectly! Much vintage love xxx rosetintedvintage.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ooh how exciting, I hope you are enjoying it... hopefully you can pick up some new things from these girls... you might not need to find someone after you get back :)

      Delete
  57. Given the personal nature, of this post, you deserve nothing but credit for simply posting.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I struggle with this very same thing. I've had coworkers confess to me, after we've gotten to know each other, that they used to think I was aloof. It's just shyness, people! Live and learn.

    www.etsy.com/shop/tracesremainvintage

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seems a common reaction, but good to know I'm not alone x

      Delete
  59. I really enjoyed reading this post, it's refreshing to read such honesty and rawness!

    I work as a sales consultant for Jaeger Men's wear suits and between us sales people ( I am the only female amongst male colleagues)competition is very high! I am much a like your self. If I don't have a drink in my hand I can be very reserved with people and don't give to much away. I wouldn't say I was shy, I just don't feel I have anything to say, I just think it! I have no idea how I got this job and I am constantly reminded that I need to speak up to get sales!

    It is a hard thing to be confident in your self, good luck with your therapy and thanks for sharing! I hope you don't mind but you have inspired me to write a similar post which I will be putting up in a week or so. I would appreciate your feedback and will post a link to this page. :)
    Best wishes.

    Kimberly X
    letterstomarilynboutique.blogspot.co.uk/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please do post, I shall be very interested to read!

      Delete
  60. Just read this blog after I saw you tweeting about it, completely missed it. I think it might be a good thing to talk with a psychotherapist and it can really help solving some issues.

    I always feel different then other people and I hate small talk! Most of the time I like to be alone.

    I admire you for writing about it. I wish I had to courage to write about some of my issues I'm currently dealing with, maybe in the future I'm not sure yet.

    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  61. Fleur, I appreciate you sharing your feelings, as you are not alone :) I know that when I really tried to focus on helping others/showing interest in them, others considered me their friend. I was touched and realized that even if I get snuffed off, someone else might see that and-trying to overcome their shyness- and approach me. Fearing others may think you are 'weird' or a loser shouldn't hold you back because no matter what you do, someone random out there is going to think you are. But in relation to the new people who think you are fab for being yourself is worth it! Trying to get to the root of the problem so you can be a better you sounds like something worth trying to me!(I know I said trying too many times in that sentence.)

    That may have sounded stupid or obvious but I wanted to share my bit ;)

    --Viola

    ReplyDelete
  62. Fleur

    Thank you for responding to everyone's comments. Please do keep us updated!

    Mike

    ReplyDelete
  63. I know there have already been a lot of comments, but I had to add. I started to well up while reading this. I have had a hard few years myself, and the last few months have been particularly difficult. I have felt like the more I realized that things were wrong, and that I wanted to change, the more difficult things became. I think I have quite a bit of social anxiety, or just general anxiety. Walking into a party or event along is my least favorite thing. I use my husband as a buffer a lot. I will talk to him instead of having to interact with other people at events. I am fine in small groups, and usually fine if I know everyone, but sometimes, not. The worst part is, I do actually like talking to people, but not really that good at initiating it.

    I had to apologize to a friend last month for how I acted at an event I had to show up to alone, where I only knew her. That was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back, as they say. I had to admit that perhaps I have some anxiety issues, and perhaps I am not giving people a chance that want to be nice to me.

    From a reader's perspective, it looks like you're always hosting events, and attending events, but — and not that I am happy about your discomfort — it is somehow reassuring to me to know that you have been so successful and have a nice group of friends despite sometimes not wanting to be social. I feel like there's hope for me to change too.

    I know it's not what your blog is about but I hope you will update us on what happens as you consciously try to put yourself out there more. Everyone is rooting for you!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Ah that might explain... I was with a friend who you did know socially a few years ago and when I spoke to you I thought you blanked me. Who knows perhaps you did perhaps you didn't. I will be honest I put it down, at the time, to the fact that I'm a vintage inspired arty goth type rather than vintage through and through. But its neither here nor there I still enjoy reading your blog :) I figure you must be nice if so many people I am friends and acquaintanced with are friends with you too :)

    I also tend to be quite "comfortable" socially at being myself which can shock people sometimes - shock as in make them more shy if they are shy anyway. Or I shock them into being extremely un-shy which is always interesting. I'm not particularly loud or obnoxious I'm just "sociable".

    I came across your blog post I was actually thinking about the fact that I am meeting up with a load of people I don't know whilst I wait for people I do know to turn up. It is very likely that my friends will turn up much later than I planned to be out. I mentioned this to someone and they said oh but you get on with everyone and you're able to talk with everyone.

    It made me realise that how people see me and how I feel about myself are two different things. I am very sociable and I am very comfortable with talking to strangers and strangers seem to want to talk with me (much to my dismay sometimes) but the fact of the matter is I'm actually quite awkward and a loner which seems to fuel my sociability more somehow.

    It is totally possible to be sociable whilst being awkward and unsociable inside and for me I use this to my advantage in the respect that I think I make most people feel less awkward about themselves. You just have to think on those people who are so utterly sure of themselves that they are actually really difficult to connect with because of it.

    Good luck and brave and honest post :)

    ReplyDelete

I welcome all comments, praise and constructive criticism alike! Please note, though, that I don't respond to anonymous comments. If you want to offer a criticism then have the conviction to do so publicly. I thank you!

Take a look!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin