Thursday, March 19, 2009

Social Skills

It's been a long time since I've posted, but it's been one of those times in my life that has really started the wheels turning, so I thought I'd share a little about what I've learned about myself this past week.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to meet up with a group of people I was really close with in high school, but whom I haven't seen for nearly 20 years. I was , I confess, a total Drama Dork in high school. I lived in the Auditorium. We did 2 productions a year, and I worked on all of them but one, which meant many hours in the auditorium with the other Drama Dorks. These people were like family to me, and our teacher, Mr. Kenyon was the father of my adolescence. (I certainly saw him more than my own father.
But even though to me these people were like family, I was always on the outside. I didn't really learn how to make friends until I was in my mid twenties, and this is still something I have to consciously work on. This is something i've long known about myself, but this past weekend really provided an amazing amount of clarity into the Me I used to be, and how that Me relates to the Me I am now.
Like all "outsiders" I was always a little jealous of those on the inside. Moving friendships which are dependent on context (classmate, coworker, fellow castmember) outside of that context is something I didn't know how to do, and I was mystified how others managed it.
In a nutshell I was shy. .
SHY? Anybody who knows me would be shocked at this confession. I'm LOUD. I'm brash. I'll step into the spotlight on stage or to give a presentation as if I was born there. But put me one to one, and I pretty much would wait until someone else spoke to me first. In large groups i'm a wallflower, and parties where I don't know most of the people are a nightmare. .
I always thought I was just the "one good friend" type. I'm not shy, I just prefer to have a couple of really close friends. . Well, that's not really true. Because I was shy, i'd latch on to the friends I did have for dear life.
Oh poor Jenni! Jenni Gray was my best friend of my high school years. And like many others, she was just born to know how to make friends and talk to others. This is one of the many qualities that I always admired about her, and still do. Jenni was like the more social person I could have been! After all, we had so much in common. We were in all the same classes and were as close as could be. (Love you Jenni). . But I look back now and wonder, . . Did it ever bother her that I was so dependant on her friendship? Maybe not, we were, after all, the Lemonlimonese Twins. .
But there was something else I learned. Something I would never have known had I not visited with these old friends last weekend. Despite being shy, and not really being "in", I was happy. Student Directing our spring musical Oliver my senior year is one of the best memories of my youth. I always figured everybody was happier than me because they went out more, went to parties, dated. (yeah, I didn't even DATE i high school! LOL). But you know what? They weren't. Turns out that we all had our daemons we were fighting.
Growing up is a slow and painful process. And time is the great equalizer. I am thirty six years old and i've never been happier. . And, with a little work, and a little effort, I now know how to reach out to the people I like and say "Hey, let's be friends". .
Oh and to Paula, who held my hand from Sophmore year till now, so I could always look over my shoulder and say "See i'm not the only one!" .. Thank you for being my friend, from even before I knew how to be one myself. .