Yesterday, I went to a philosophy meet up group. Well, David and I went it was kind of a social test for me. There are not many common interest groups around here for me but I am interested in philosophy so when David mentioned that he was going to that one, I thought I may like it too. He is going to a writers group also, but I do not feel like I am supposed to go to that one. We need our own ventures anyway but I have yet to find another one of interest. Actually, I am quite happy at home doing my own thing but I see the value in meeting new people so…baby steps…it’s been a while for me. I do enjoy people despite my social issues and anxiety issues.
It is all new anyway venturing out as myself, you know.
It was planned about four weeks ago, I still was not sure if I wanted to attend but David had planned on going. I went to the group page when he mentioned it and read people’s profiles, I freaked out! I could not think of what to say about myself and when I saw all of the credentials of people, I panicked and shut it down. Keep in mind I was going through some serious emotional processing/confusion as well.
My mind went blank.
I convinced myself that I could not go. I have spent some time on philosophy, reading books, websites, dabbling a bit. I have enough knowledge about the topic to feel comfortable enough to talk to people about it, ONE on ONE. After weeks of being freaked out about the profile thing, convincing myself that I could not go because I did not have sufficient credentials and telling David why I could not go, he told me that he could just put that he was bringing a guest.
Oh, problem solved, I had no problem with that.
I do not like people knowing about me, especially when I first meet them. I need to go in and feel safe and observe. Having the freedom of no one knowing anything about me made me feel safe and able to go. I was not that anxious about going, I was rather excited. I automatically felt safe in the environment because I knew that it was going to be in a used book store that had a cafe in it. Perfect. I feel safe surrounded by books and in quaint coffee shops. I also knew that if the group was too much for me I had a plan, I could always get up and walk the isles of books. Safe. I knew that in all bookstores there is one place that I can find that is quiet if I get overloaded. Safe. I also knew for the first time that if I was uncomfortable I could get up and leave and not worry about what another person thought. Safe.
It was about a half an hour drive.
We planned on going early to scope out all of the books. I did enjoy the walls and walls of books and went about my wandering. They had an entire upstairs as well and it was quiet. Sometimes I just like looking at the books all neatly put away, the lines all even and fronted. I enjoyed looking at the multiple titles that seemed to be of no interest to anyone. The rows and rows of books that seemed so frivolous. I laughed when I saw the “Paranormal Romance” section. What does that mean? There were tons of books on poetry and biographies, I liked looking through them. There were local artists painting and drawings featured on the walls to purchase. I enjoyed looking at them as well. At one point I felt like I got scooped up into another dimension and realized all of the words trapped inside the covers of these books. It made me ponder on the importance of words and the defame of so many as well.
I was surprised at how calm I was.
I was a little nervous about how the group would be since I had never been there before and there were going to be new people. We sat at a table outside of the group. There were about 25 of us crammed into a little space. There was no way I was getting any closer. I was close enough to the people in front of me, less than a foot away. I freaked about that a bit, luckily they did not smell or anything. One guy was kind of loud, obnoxious and thought he was clever. I wanted to ask him if being clever was working out for him. Overall it was good, there were a variety of people there, mainly older people though. I surprised by that, I thought there would be some younger folks but only a handful were there. I was extremely distracted by many things I will make a list later.
At one point there was a “discussion”.
I will not bore you with the details. Basically, it was just the wrong time and got off topic. I got bored with several of the “arguments” that seemed to be rather trite. If we are going to argue let’s do it for real. Again, I was in observation mode and it was all new so I had selective mutism. I could barely get out any of my answers. BUT I did!! Yes, I did participate a little bit. The whole experience was a great lesson for me in being ok with being wrong. I watched others get a wrong answer and they were fine with it.
I was wrong with two of the answers from the questions he had presented, although I will add had they been worded better and been clearly stated direct wording, I may not have gotten them wrong. I was so free, I was wrong and it was ok and no one thought that I was stupid. Or least they didn’t make me feel stupid and others had the same wrong answers as myself and….and…and…it was alright! At one point though I had to check out, I was getting seriously overloaded and frustrated with their silly bantering about numbers, the question had been resolved several minutes prior but someone wanted to be “clever” and continued in circles.
At that point I was ready to get up and go, but by chance?
A black cat did appear, he roamed through the crowd and made his way to me. Actually he made his way to the ledge of a window opening to the bookstore. We were sitting in a built on portion of the store, there was an old window that looked into the office that was also opened to the bookstore part so when I got overloaded I would look at the bookshelves through the window. The cat was sitting there looking at me and I hadn’t noticed, David kicked my foot (not hard) and said “look”. I looked up and his BIG green eyes were staring at me. I went straight to him and started talking to him. I pet him and he gave me kitty kisses all over my face. He was clearly scared, his eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head. Poor guy.
It was just what I needed to bring me peace from the silly bantering going on.
He laid down on the window for a while looking at me and I continued to talk to him, but then someone scared him and he ran off. The owner came up to me later and told me that the cat’s name was Willy and that he stayed in the apartment in the back. He also said “Willy usually never comes out but for some reason he came out today”. Hmm….Thanks Willie the cat. Plus he was black. I love black cats! All in all it was a good experience I plan on going again. I learned some more things about deductive, inductive and abductive reasoning. I plan on doing my own research because I do not learn very well in those types of settings. What I do learn are things about social dynamics and how to be myself in those settings. I am an experiment in action. I enjoyed myself and I felt comfortable for the most part.
Although the woman heading it up kept asking if we wanted to move our seats.
She asked three times and I said “No thank you, we are fine here.” I know she thought it was strange but there was no way I was going to be in the middle of those people and trapped! I have to breathe. I would have been too overloaded by being surrounded by people and feeling stuck. It’s different when I am outside but if I am in a building, it feels too closed in. I will not go into detail about every thing that overloaded me but I am going to list them as to give the understanding of what it is like to be me in a setting like that with all of the sensory and what my brain is processing along with trying to be social and “fit in” so to speak. I did stim without realizing it until later or if someone looked at me. I found myself biting the inside of my mouth and my lips. I was “caught” twirling my fingers, rubbing my fingers close to my ears to listen to the sound, and tapping my fingers rapidly, in my head I was counting 1-2-3-4 over and over again. Those were a few I noticed. I did make good eye
eyebrow/forehead contact with people.
List of distractions:
- Speakers eyebrows-He shaved them and they were awkwardly shaped. Very black and thick in some places.
- Sauerkraut/sausage smell-It was not on the menu board so I have no idea where it was coming from.
- Buzzing machines-Ice, refrigerator, coffee maker, freezer all of them LOUD.
- People talking-Everyone talking making a blanket voice sound that made my head fuzzy
- Temperature-I was freezing and left my jacket in the car.
- Paintings on the walls-There was a giraffe painting that had small black broken glass for the giraffe body. I wanted to touch it the textures looked so cool. I really like the painting and thought it was a interesting idea. I may try it.
- Isles of books-Enough said.
- Sounds of moving chairs across the floor-OUCH my ears!
- Big clock on the wall-Super cool.
- Exit sign-Red and annoying.
- Fluorescent lights-They dangled from tiny chains, swinging from the air, they blinked and buzzed. No likey.
Still it was a good experiment and I shall try again, better equipped.