I had a short meeting with my company’s president today, it was actually the meeting that should have happened back when I joined the company, but many moons passed. Such a thing happens. She is a person, like most company leaders, I never really interact with on a daily basis. I really don’t interact with a lot of people in my company on a daily basis outside of my immediate team. I’m not sure how I would accomplish that. I don’t follow most of the things human beings find interesting, and people sure as hell don’t want to listen about my one-hundred and fifty-five hours in Starbound, or why I really like this anime I am watching all of the sudden. I always figure people who really want to know about real nerd know how to Google search me and find my content.
The nature of this beast though is that locked in a conversation, I won’t try to get out of it. I’ll talk about nonsensical things, make cut-and-dry jokes, or otherwise try to make a horrid affair of it. I used to be rigid and stiff during job interviews, and get so nervous that I don’t think I won jobs because of it. Lately though, mayhaps due to being laid off and tossed from two jobs in the past year, I’ve become more relaxed when talking to anyone, including corporate executives. Maybe she is a person who just doesn’t invite that sort of atmosphere. She had commented on how I was sort of stiff and unresponsive on the boat event back in August. It was my second or third week there, I didn’t know anyone aside from maybe six people. I’m never comfortable around people I barely know. You should have seen the parties my wife used to throw back during her party hard days. I don’t drink, so when her and my roommate would get their booze friends involved, it meant I would hole myself up in the bedroom and play video games. Today, our parties are much more adult and civil, and I’m usually the one insisting everyone play Cards Against Humanity because I am a terrible person. It’s fun. Could I do it with these people? Sure. Maybe not back then, because I didn’t know them, but knowing many of them now, it’d be a festival.
The thing is, I’ve never been a shy person. Start talking about Star Trek, or even popular culture, and I can hang with it. I can even talk music, sports, and some other nonsense, because I am an observant person and I read a lot of news. But striking up a conversation isn’t my strong suit. I could bore you with the backstory, but the TL;DR is middle and high school were not kind to me, and coupled with family issues and low self-esteem, I am not the poster child for a extroverted healthy lifestyle. That’s why I am an engineer and not a sales person. I’d rather sit in a room with no windows and fix things all day than have to talk to people. But years of working jobs that forced me to talk to people made me really good at faking extroversion. You’d never know I was a closet crazy.
Have I changed in the last decade? Absolutely. My wife delights in reminding me that I was a weak-kneed pushover before we met, and that her terrible sense of humanity has turned me into a likewise person. But I remind her that my disposition for wanting to be a cave hermit has rubbed off onto her and she isn’t nearly as receptive to the things she used to be long ago. Still, we manage a decent life, and I try to manage a decent social relationship with people despite my tendency to not act like a regular person. People look at me when I say I just go home and play games or sit on the computer. I do. I don’t go anywhere or do anything. Gas costs money, I ain’t got a lot of that, and I ain’t got anywhere to go. I could be a real person and go out with friends or go to their places, but the few I keep in company are either far away or do their own thing. Plus in winter, no one wants to go anywhere because it’s winter.
I am also rather paranoid about forming relationships with people I work with. My Facebook policy has always been to never friend anyone who isn’t family or close friends, preferring they friend me if they want. That stemmed from too many times me friending someone and trying to be nice, for them to give me the e-stinkeye and act like they don’t know me or that I am weird for responding to their posts. But my layoff from East Point Systems really exposed my flaws in making friends of co-workers. Office politics never go away, and I dumped several people over the fallout from the layoff and events before that because I mistakenly thought that they were people of integrity when they in fact were just collecting information on me and exposing my weakness to post unwarranted self-importance when I was upset at something, or misinterpret my deadpan sarcasm for actual fact. I have to be careful about what I do and what I say, especially to managers or people in a position to influence my job status. It’s the price one pays to be on social networking in today’s occupational world, and it’s a pretty high price. I’ve often thought of just quitting social media altogether, but then I’d be even more of a social recluse, because I don’t talk to people about much in real life. It’s a little maddening, really.
But above all, these blogs, the things I write, I’ve always figured it was my way of self-therapy after my parents’ divorce in 2000-2001. They’ll continue to tell me to “get over it” and that it shouldn’t affect me, but when you’re effectively stranded in a state eighteen hours from where you grew up, with no family, and no friends, in a high school that hates you because you’re a nerd and you’re not rich, it was another brick in the wall back then, and it’s taken me the better part of these fourteen years to fully recover from it. I didn’t get a proper college education after graduating because no one really offered one to me, and I didn’t follow through with the classes I took on my own. I simply worked a job and hung out with friends all day, trying to make a social life I never had for myself during school. It was intoxicating to the point where it made me feel alive, especially to have a girlfriend, to have sexual experiences, too much information, I know, but I didn’t get to lose my virginity at fifteen or whatever like the kids I grew up with probably did. My father will probably say that it was better for me to have moved away from the midwest, lest I knock a girl up at 18 and be a father before 21. He is correct, of course, but would that have been so bad? Would it have made me different than I am now? Maybe I’d have been happier, more outgoing, less static. Who knows?
Life is such a tricky beast, and I try to tame it however I can, but there are days where I just don’t care, and yet I have to put on a mask and pretend to care, because perception matters, as annoying as that is. I use humor, sarcasm, the English language, and nerdom as a shield and filter to keep people from ever interacting with me. It seems cold, but I can’t trust anyone with the real me, because people have no reservation about exploiting real me, including my wife sometimes. She means well, and she tries to defend me from other people judging me, but she judges me the harshest. Most of the time it’s warranted, but other times it is just plain mean. It’s a way of life though. I suppose that makes her the only person I can trust with me in the end.
Perhaps what defines a relationship is being able to trust people not to be jerks with you when it’s time for real talk. Wouldn’t that be something?