Thursday, 10 May 2018

Scaling inner mountains

Moving to a new place is a pretty effective self-check. This tendency to take on the same social role almost independent of which group one is in is a very strong force, but I've been making efforts to counteract it. Not that I've been trying to pose as someone I'm not, but rather the opposite. For most of my life I've had a habit of hiding behind a facade of shyness. Fear of rejection paradoxically leading me to reject myself, before anyone has a chance to get the impression that I'm a person with thoughts who actually have things to say.

Because I do have thoughts, and fairly often manage to come up with things with which to contribute to discussions. Lifetime habits die hard, however, and there are a number of obstacles to overcome. For example:
  • My tendency to immediately shut up if someone interrupts me, and then spend the rest of the conversation sulking in the conviction that clearly nobody is interested in what I have to say. This is just a habit that needs breaking, I suppose, and I have become better at reclaiming the word, even if it takes waving my arms in frustration and right-out telling people to shut up at times.
  • Fear of estrangement or ridicule for voicing an unpopular opinion. This one I still stick to unless someone outright asks for my opinion, or someone keeps saying exceptionally stupid or provoking things. I guess it's cowardly of me, and probably unhealthy to some degree, but I've been estranged from too many groups because of my supposedly radical opinions that I'd rather lay low with some parts of me than risk complete loneliness. I'm slowly learning to open up more in the company of friends who I trust won't abandon me, but with new people? Not so much.
  • Conversations moving so darn fast. Quite often I do think of something interesting to add to the discussion, but before I've managed to get a word in edgewise, the conversation has moved on so well past the topic that what would have been a witty comment or an amusing anecdote or a fascinating question has become misplaced, passé or obsolete. Seriously, how do people manage to keep up? I take mental notes on things I could have said, and find that at best maybe one thing in four gets said. Although if the conversation topic is something I know a lot about or am ridiculously enthusiastic about, the odds are of course a bit better.
On the other hand, I find myself doing pretty cool things such as (at least sometimes) actually correcting people who misgender me, patiently explaining the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation (without compromising my integrity all that much), and even telling people off for making sexist remarks above my head or even to my face. Not too eloquently, perhaps, but promptly and irritatedly. And I've talked to my boss about things I've found uncomfortable instead of internalising rage that proved to be justified. So I guess at least in some respects I've leveled up the skill of standing my own ground.

Plus, I've been working almost full-time (both hours and physical level of activity being far beyond what I'm used to) for over a month now, without having had a single nervous breakdown. I've had bad feelings, sure, but I've allowed them to possess me and before very long they've passed on their merry way. And the biggest thing of all: I've ever so slowly started to make friends with solitude again. That's a thing that used to be the most natural thing in the world for me, but which abandoned me completely when bad things happened a few years ago. It's a little early to dance a jig, but I have a distinct feeling that long-time missing parts of me are beginning to fall back into place.

All in all, it's doing me a lot of good to be here. I'm also reminded of how sorely I've missed travels long enough to make myself another home, which is why I'm ecstatic about getting to work here in the summer as well. Social difficulties be damned, I really do feel like I belong here.

If nothing else, mountain peak-climbs do a hell of a lot
to boost the self-confidence and general joy of life.

Love and mountains yet to climb,

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