Archive for September, 2017

Highly Sensitive

September 22, 2017

Growing up with little C is truly a journey to understand myself. While there are many who thrive on travelling to exciting places and doing new things, I revel in exploring the inner workings of my mind. I (over)analyze myself and wonder why. As little C grows up, I’m finding that he is temperamentally very much in the mold of  me. As I try to help him, I realize that those advice I would have loved to hear when I was younger and also that it’s not too late to heed them.

He is a really sensitive little guy – tags in clothing annoy him to no end, startles easily, doesn’t perform well when someone is watching, some movies that are not meant to be scary scare him, perfectionist (or is it a fear of failure…. not quite the same but some types of behavior though… ), worries about dying , etc   (http://hsperson.com/test/highly-sensitive-child-test/)  Many things make sense now on hindsight, like how he cried the first time we stood around and sang happy birthday to him, him fussing in crowded/ dark/ funny smelling restaurants, being extra cautious on the playground. SO the funny thing is as I read about dealing with sensitive kids, I finally realize I was one too. I even had a friend tell me that I’m really sensitive but brushed it off then because I probably thought that everyone was just like me.

So what does it mean to be highly sensitive? According to Dr Elaine Aron,  a highly sensitive person has “a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.” The good news is that even though I didn’t have a label for my preferences and behaviour, I have been aware of what I needed. It is quite interesting when I made the connection with how I like my vacations relaxing with plenty of time to go back to the quiet of a hotel room and recover from the onslaught of new sensations before venturing out again.

But it also means that I have a tendency to get into my cozy place and never wanting to change or get out of my comfort zone and endure the awkwardness of making new friends. I’ve been gently prodding the little guy into trying things he is afraid of for the longest time. (At times, not so gentle, but I’ve learnt better since…) It was in that spirit of teaching by showing that I chose to do something I normally wouldn’t – join the PTA committee and I am really glad I did. At first, I thought it would be a good setting for getting to know other parents. I had to remind myself that being an introvert doesn’t make me bad at small talk, it is the fact I don’t practicing adult social skills that makes me more anxious when I do need them.  So I’ve started my self assigned task of looking for new friends because I’ll never meet any if I just sit at home and read.

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Things that Shouldn’t Bother Me But Do

September 19, 2017

We are pretty close with the family of little C’s best friend, W. They have regular weekly playdates; I’ve helped them out in various occasions when they had trouble arranging for childcare – giving rides, babysat, picked up their son; our kids are in the same karate dojo;…  I had a tough time telling W’s mum that we were switching schools. She asked which school and I told her the truth.

So the thing is, right before school started, W’s dad started acting aloof towards us. When we saw him at karate, we would say hi as usual but he was withdrawn and didn’t want to be engaged.  The first time, I thought maybe he was stressed out or tired. By the second time, I was starting to suspect there was something deeper going on. And today, we were at the dojo again. They came late so we didn’t have a chance to say hi. When the class ended, they left in a jiffy without even saying ‘hello’ . Then I remembered how after W’s mum arranged with me to keep W for a day because they both had to work, the dad abruptly cancelled it the evening before when we met at the dojo.  I thought it was a little weird at that time, but I think it is his way of disassociating with us.  I’m not sure what we did that could have offended him except have our child be moved to a school that the anti-intellectual perceive as being for the entitled/ elite while I think of it as a place where he can be with peers who are similar to him, which hopefully means he’ll less likely to be bullied.

At any rate, even though I feel rather hurt by the snubbing, I’ll continue to do what I feel is right. If a parent wants to set an rude, ungracious example before their child, that’s not my problem to solve.

 

Social Anxiety

September 16, 2017

I suffer from some social anxiety. When I was still in school and naturally surrounded by people, it wasn’t obvious. The class environment makes it easy to make friends because you see them everyday and you have a lot of common experiences. It was in college when I first felt a little isolated and realized I lack the social skills to make friends outside a school context. I was the only person I know in my major and while I made a couple of acquaintances, I realized that it wasn’t easy to start up a random conversation with people. In hindsight, tutorials would have been a good chance to initiate contact but I kinda kept to myself.

I never quite realize that you need a different set of skills to interact with strangers and make small talk. I don’t think I’ve quite shaken off the trauma of having good friends (two in my lifetime) turn on me and decide I was pariah. I harbor the fear that people secretly detest me and I’m too dense to notice it. That makes it hard for me to open up. Deep down, I understand that I can never make everyone happy and it’s true that I was blithely ignorant before and may have hurt some feelings. In the end though, I think it is up to the person who has a problem to speak up about it if they are interested in maintaining the relationship.

So as I talk down my social anxiety about meeting people, I’ve been convincing myself that all those negative things I think they might be saying about me doesn’t exist. In some cases, that is true. Sometimes when me and J argue, he tends to keep quiet and I start to imagine the things he must be thinking.  When we both calm down and talk about it, I would find out that they weren’t true and that I should stop tormenting myself with the imaginary narration playing out in my head. Or maybe that’s more true with guys who have a less complicated inner life.

End of the day is, I told myself that nothing will get better if I don’t try it out. So that’s why I’ve been branching out to try out the PTA, to approach other parents or groups that I think I can make connections. Even if I don’t find good friends in the process, at least I am shedding some of the anxiety just by practicing the skill.