Today I accepted an invitation to meet up for coffee.
A normal, everyday thing that thousands, if not millions of people take for granted.
From what I can tell it seems to follow a fairly set formula.
Meet up with a friend(s) at your/their house(s) or a previously agreed location to chat, share news/gossip, drink coffee (optional) and generally have a nice time.
Or, in my case, not.
This is what comes of having an overactive imagination that, for whatever reasons tends to err on the negative side of dramatic and a self-image so poor that it rivals…
I don’t do this on purpose although in the past I’ve been accused using of extreme self depreciation as a twisted way of garnering compliments. I just honestly see everyone that I’d like to be friends with as far superior to me in many ways.
A better nurse
Quicker at noticing and dealing with emergencies
More senior at work
Liked by everyone they come across
Able to inspire confidence and confident in themselves
A completely random set of characteristics that I may or may not be correct in assigning to people but this is how I see them and how I wish to be, I just don’t know how.
For me, meeting someone (or someones) is about as easy as going for a job interview. In truth a job interview is probably easier because I’ve been able to prepare and in mose cases I know what I’m supposed to say and when to say it. I may not be the most brilliant, eye-catching candidate who has the interview panel falling over themselves to offer up the job but on a good day I’m up near the top.
On the rare occasions that I actually receive such an invitation (for coffee, not a job interview), my inner monologue starts sounding something like this.
Ooh, a message from so-and-so, I wonder what it says?
Would I like to meet up for coffee?
That’s nice of them, I very much would like to meet up for coffee.
I wonder where they’d like to meet, I’ll ask them.
Wherever I fancy? I have no idea, I don’t know what they like or where is easiest for them to get to but I can’t ask them again and they’ve been nice enough to let me choose.
I wonder why they want to meet anyway?
Oh God, there has to be a reason besides fancying a chat.
I’m rubbish at chatting anyway, I never know what to say and I always worry that they’ll make a joke and I’ll take it seriously or the other way round.
I’m sure my voice must wobble or I talk really fast because I’m nervous.
I just want to make a good impression and for them to like me.
Don’t be daft, of course they don’t like you, there has to be another reason for meeting you.
What have I done?
What have I said that I shouldn’t have?
Maybe I’ve offended someone and they need to talk to me about it.
It has to be to do with work, I must have done something wrong and they’ve been asked to follow it up.
Maybe it’s to do with my sick leave?
I was doing really well but then I caught cold after cold from Squidge and now I’m having all these problems with my medication and the side effects from the new one.
I’m going to be in so much trouble.
I wonder if I can get out of going?
You’ve accepted the invitation, of course you have to go.
What if I completely panic and can’t think of anything to say or I end up repeating myself or they just think I’m really boring or just completely insane?
What if I end up completely worn out with the effort of attempting to be normal and relaxed and casual and I just panic?
Why have they invited me, I just don’t understand?
Why does this have to be so difficult?
And so on, and so forth.
This is all before I’ve even met up the person.
I spend days with my stomach squirming and my thoughts chasing each other round and round inside my head, tying themselves in knots and generally making the idea of ‘meeting for coffee’ about as attractive as a visit to the dentist.
At least I know what to expect at the dentist; most of the time you’re holding your mouth wide open and the amount of talking you’re expected to do is minimal.
Having said that, the last time I went to the dentist I was noticeably pregnant and the dental nurse spent the whole of the walk to the correct room asking me baby questions. By the time I got to see the actual dentist I was exhausted with keeping up the pretence of being excited about being pregnant but at least I got to sit down and not have to say anything, even if I did have a strange man looking in my mouth and trying not to lean on the bump.
I just don’t understand why socialising is so difficult.
Why do I struggle when everyone else I know seems to find it so easy?
There are so many things that seem to come naturally to everyone else.
Answering the phone
Being a mum
It’s a bit like when I learned to drive. I say ‘when’, it was actually three different blocks of lessons in three different counties over a period of six years in total. Everyone else I knew had four to six months of lessons and one or two attempts at their test before passing while I had to psych myself up before every lesson and the idea of actually passing my test was completely untenable.
I did eventually pass my driving test (on the ninth attempt) and although the first few times I drove by myself I couldn’t even have the radio on in case it distracted me and I caused a huge pile up I now quite enjoy driving.
So maybe there is hope for me and my rather tenuous social skills.
The butterflies in my stomach at the thought of something that’s not even happening for another three days say otherwise.
It’s completely ridiculous.