The fun personality I put across when I first meet people could be seen as false; it’s attractive and charming, witty and clever, but its upkeep takes effort. Is this the fault of being an introvert, or is this what everyone goes through? It’s not like the façade is a lie, the façade is me, I have the thoughts, feelings and attitude that I project; some thoughts I decide to reserve and have a giggle to myself when something pops into my brain that I’m not sure the other person would appreciate. Which is, frankly, usually something perverse… I remember being in a lift with a co-worker that I have fun flirting with occasionally; I was going bright red and biting my lip as there was an awkward silence and all I could think to say were euphemisms about ‘going down’ – that would’ve taken the playful flirting to a whole new level (badaboom tssh). However, if I’m truly being myself, why is it so exhausting?
I wasn’t always charming, witty and adept at conversation. It’s a skill that has taken a long time to learn, with great thanks to my best friend for helping me to open up and show me how to drag the intimate answers out of people that they certainly wouldn’t have brought up had she not asked with such aplomb. Often people would explode with laughter at her directness in actually asking the question that nobody else had the balls to ask, then answer her with as much honesty as they could provide – talk about skill!
I was terse, monosyllabic and made no bones that I was a miserable misanthrope and conversation was not interesting to me; I was a goth after all, I had a reputation to uphold. Even my best girl took a long time to break me down and get me talking, despite her skill. The fact she carried on trying, succeeded and still considers me good enough to keep around, I am endlessly thankful for.
Perhaps it’s much like anyone else. The façade is a good, clean version of the truth. It’s the editing that’s the exhausting part, the cold-reading of the person I’m talking to. What’s working, what isn’t, what should I say about this, what should I leave out? Is that too risqué? Hmm, he didn’t seem impressed by my repartee about size being important…Quick! Change the topic! Telling him I have a thing for men in heels probably wouldn’t really be appropriate, would it?
One might suppose therefore that the more exhausting a conversation, the less comfortable I feel. The more editing that has to be done, the more awareness I have to ensure. With people I feel more comfortable with, I don’t really need to edit; they know who I am and my humour, they know how to take it which can be a stumbling block for people. However that comfort only comes with familiarity; when meeting new people you always have to work them out, and edit yourself to a certain extent.
It’s exciting and enthralling meeting new people, and I think I’ve learned to sell myself, which is what you do when you someone new and shiny, isn’t it? I would never have attempted to sell myself before, I figured people could accept me for who I am, misanthropy, eyeliner, fishnets and all, or screw them. But it makes life much easier when you have the choice to sell yourself, or even the opposite if being in a tragic accident involving 3 clowns, a leprechaun and Ted Bundy is more appealing than going on another date with this guy who makes Charlie Manson look like quite the catch.