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Friday, July 12, 2019

A few weeks ago, I met an old friend who was visiting from the US. We worked together forty years ago and were close friends. I went to meet her after work. It was a two-hour journey on the worst packed trains in Tokyo. After an hour and a half in a coffee shop, she went back to her hotel to sleep off her jet lag.

I felt several things after that. I have a number of long distance old friends and some of the connections continue to work well and some, not so much. Before any conversations, I need to be in the right frame of mind and be somewhat prepared. (Maybe extroverts don’t need to do that.) That day I wasn’t prepared. I had the recent experience of pushing DH to his clinic in a storm, and work had been intense for a couple of weeks. Immediately after going our separate ways, I felt my conversation had been too negatively tinged.

Today I met a friend who is a present-life friend. Our lives are similar so there are a number of personal topics we don’t need to stay away from. I prepared this time - fifty-fifty air time, stuff about books, list up her interests in my head, her husband etc. I feel I still veered a bit to the negative. Life is bumpy right now, but I think it was lack of practice rather than that.

I’ll be able to socialize more when my vacation starts in two weeks. Socializing and conversation are like playing a musical instrument - for an introvert anyway. You can only give your best if you practice all the time. You don’t learn the skills and then you’re done. They need to be polished up all the time or they get rusty quite quickly - a project for the summer vacation.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Sometimes, when I'm not in the mood, I find it easier to ask open ended questions and invite the other person to talk. Most people love to talk about themselves and their lives if invited to do so. Forget 50/50. If needed shift the weight :)
    182 days ago
    Hopefully your friend will understand that you were going through a difficult time and will sympathise with you. Perhaps another time you will be upbeat and it will be her who needs to let off steam or needs some support. Socialising is a skill isn't it, and some people have more of it, just like some people can do cartwheels and others (Me!!) can't! Don't beat yourself up though. Another day, maybe you'll be doing cartwheels!
    188 days ago
    I get what you are saying. Sometimes I feel like I just have nothing to say. Building myself up to go to a party is really stressful. I think everyone runs a little negative when life gets difficult.
    190 days ago
    I can so relate to your story. I do the same, preparation of what to conversarte and which of my parts, scenario to show up etc... I feel so relieved after we go separate way! Lol !!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    191 days ago
    Very interesting!! It is a mark of respect for friends (old and more recent) to prepare a bit of an "agenda" of topics that might be of interest and to consider "equal air time". But I also think good friends understand when we may be going through a tough patch and take a bit more than 50/50: providing that we also GIVE a bit more than 50/50 from time to time!!

    191 days ago
    I have recently and somewhat reluctantly, given up on an old friendship. When we were both young mothers with 3 children each and a passion for politics, we were very close. Not any more. We both tried, for almost 2 years, to get back the friendship we used to have; but for me at least it did not work. I wish her all the best, but other than exchanging Christmas cards, I do not expect to have much more contact.
    191 days ago
  • PB1959
    It can be so exhausting...right?
    191 days ago
    It is good to know yourself well enough to know that you need prep time to socialize. And don't forget, many times when we "awful-ize" about something it is our own heads playing it out that way. So, I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about and rehashing your visit w/your long time friend. I hope that you did have a good time!

    It's good to have IRL friends who are in the same situation as you. Makes it easier to talk together with a level of mutual understanding.

    191 days ago
    I think all social skills require practice - it's just that the chatty cathy's among us are talking all the time so we get practice. Our task is to shut up and listen now and then. That too, takes practice.

    But I think stress and difficulties make social interaction with relative strangers a challenge any day.

    Good for you for analyzing things. It's always better to understand.
    191 days ago
    I treat meetings with people I haven't seen in a long time like a blind date: I limit time allowed. We can always extend, or meet again, but I can leave easily without having to make excuses. Usually it's fun to connect with someone from long ago.
    191 days ago
    I hear you Margaret, it's better when you can keep a conversational " thread" going, sometimes catching up is hard work.
    I feel the same now with a friend I left behind when we moved, it takes up a good ten minutes to get into our chat where before it was like neither of us had left the room for more than 3 mins LOL

    Where are you headed for your holibobs (vacation)?

    have a great weekend emoticon
    191 days ago
    I don't consider myself an introvert but sure can understand what you are saying about conversations. I think it's hard to have a good conversation with someone you don't know well anymore. I avoid reunions for that reason. I have 3 friends that I have had for 40 years but we have remained in close contact. The rest are really just acquaintances I do things with. I enjoy time alone! I don't mind going to the movies or to dinner by myself. Even my hobbies (reading and gardening) are solitary times! I hate "small talk" and crowds make me irritable. I avoid both as often as possible! I have no plans to change. I get my fill of socialization at work.
    192 days ago
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