Awkward Pauses

Walking down the corridor that leads to my classroom, I passed several of my new classmates. Smiling vaguely and waving Hi I reached and found ‘my’ seat unoccupied in the second to last row of the room. Finding my teammate M already there, I heaved a sigh of relief. She was one person I did not feel compelled to make conversation with. She had her laptop popped open and seemed to be working intently on something. Relaxing in my chair, I looked around. A smattering of people in various stages of conversation or study greeted me. I looked beyond M to my other teammate S who was carrying on a conversation seemingly by himself till I noticed the Bluetooth phone blinking by his ear.

Wondering if I should follow suit and open my laptop I found the chair next to me occupied by another teammate C. We exchanged greetings and stopped awkwardly. He went on to get settled and seemed relieved when someone else he knew sat next to him. They went on to have a conversation about where each person lived, where they went to school and so on.

I sat still. Bothered.

When Akay or my cousin H told me I had changed, I understood part of what they said. Yesterday I realized what they meant. This was so unlike me. In all my previous life circa 1993 – 2001 I never had an issue talking or feeling comfortable in a room full of strangers. The word “Shy” did not exist in my vocabulary.  It did not matter if it was a girl or a guy. It did not matter if they looked intimidating. I would reach out with a warm handshake, query and probe till we found something common. I prided myself on the ability to be “outgoing”. I thrived in social situations.

Here I sat stymied by the lack of words, feeling shy. I berated myself internally and wondered what happened to the outgoing me. Why did my tongue feel all tied up? Why was I afraid of conversation? I wonder how much of it comes from self inflicted boundaries. Does age do that to people? I have no answers. Is it possible for someone who is deemed social and outgoing to suddenly turn introverted?

Looks like that is what has happened to me. I don’t like it.

12 comments

  1. Laksh,

    I hear you.
    BUT, its never too late to change. We dont have to regret the past, make the desired change today and enjoy life!! :–))

    SK

  2. We somehow cocoon ourselves as we age….perhaps thats the reason why we comparatively make lesser friends as we grow….even I feel this …I know I am not unfriendly but it does take much longer than usual to make a conversation these days …..
    On the contrary I feel more connected and have no inhibitions with blogging friends and connect instantly with them…..
    And you at school, are you studying something? While I was away from blogging missed a lot of updates I guess…

  3. I would consider myself an outgoing person, but there are plenty of situations I feel myself tongue-tied. I think it’s most often when everybody there is a stranger. If I already know at least a few of the ppl in that room, I feel less tongue-tied. I think I am trying to find an explanation that does not involve age 😉

  4. Ok here goes…you know how u tell me there is this bold person you knew and ask me to get back there. Same funda. 🙂 You know what you are. You know these people are going to be ur classmates till you finish school now….and I know you are a person who can converse; not just talk. So, go on ahead; unleash yourself on these people. Let them know the great personality I know you to be 😀
    Why is this? May be, you feel intimidated as you keep saying you are learning things you don’t know. Well, that is how it is supposed to be…why would somebody learn things one already knows?! And all of you are there to learn something that each one does not knows. (my grammar is so bad, I don’t even know if the prev sentence is right! 😉 ) Let go of this feeling of (I will call it this now…) inferiority?! All of you are peers, competitors and you are there to prove to yourself that you are good 🙂 We know you are 😉 I do 😀 and I should after all these years

  5. Laksh,

    I’ve started hearing this from several women these days that those who grew up as outgoing types turn out to become reserved after some years as they grow older. I guess we tend to become more conscious (too much, in fact) of ourselves and how we may come across that puts us in this spot, rather than being ourselves, no matter what. Call it lack of confidence!

  6. Is it possible for someone who is deemed social and outgoing to suddenly turn introverted?,/i> Oh, absolutely. Age does that too.

    Ultimately, it isn’t a bad thing if you are comfortable that way. It’s okay to change, and it doesn’t matter why we do, if and as long as it works for us ultimately in teh ‘now’

    my 2 cents 🙂

  7. Actually it is the opposite for me. I have always loved being around people, but I was quite shy and reserved during my college and post-graduation days. There were a few people I loved interacting and only that circle knew me. But now, I am much more social. Honestly, I don’t care about what people think of me, as much I used during my college days :-). Also, I do not judge people instantly like I used to and accept that everyone has negatives and positives. This has helped me build more friendships easily.

  8. Sometimes, its the apprehension of the unknown, or the lack of knowledge, or even the fear of sounding irrelevant.
    In my opinion, just imagining the rest of the people in their underwear, gets you over it.

    you should try it !

  9. Hit right on themark. I am in the same situation. Never had any problem with making friends or talking to people.. now it is a little different 😦

  10. Laksh, I know what you mean. I used to be a fairly outgoing person when I was in India, but a lot of non-desi people here may describe me as being shy. To a certain extent I am ok with it. I don’t enjoy small talks, and don’t have a lot of shared interests. I don’t drink alcohol, eat meat, follow the same sports or music, or possess the kind of humor that’s appreciated here, so a lot of times don’t really have much to say to sustain a conversation. But I am learning to assimilate, slowly but surely.

  11. Laksh, I too am like u and Priya. Always was an outgoing person, but not so much of that now.And like Mitr, says I am also hearing this a lot from friends of our age. I could go on analyzing reasons for it..

  12. @SK: Glad to report change is happening. I actually managed to have a whole conversation at the next class just because I had written this post.
    @Rupa: You echo my thoughts. K said this when I wrote this post. You are “bubbly” online than in the real world. I started my MBA a month back.
    @Rekha: Guess there really is no explanation. Suman seems to have got it right at least as far as what happened to me.
    @Apar: Actually after this post, I realized I was being more forthcoming in class and the list of people I talk to has expanded quite a bit.
    @Mitr: Actually at least for me I don’t think this is the reason. More has to do with being in a non desi crowd and not being sure of what they usually talk about.
    @rads: The problem was I am not comfortable with that change. Which is why I keep wondering what changed 🙂
    Naan: Good for you! I have to analyse to see if am scared of what others will think. Not quite sure.
    @anon: hehe 🙂 you crack me up! don’t think I’d do that though. :p
    @priya: If I find a magic way to suddenly become very social, will definitely let you in on it.
    @Suman: Nail on the head again. That is it really. I have no clue of what to talk about much less talk interesting stuff.
    @anamika: Let me know what you analysed 🙂

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