Do you know anyone who, for one reason or another, doesn’t always clue into social cues? They stand too close. Or talk too loudly. Or talk only about themselves. Or ask too many questions. Or make the wrong amount of eye contact. Or laugh at all the wrong times. Or always talk about the wrong things.
Here, I am THAT person.
When I’m sitting in a group, I’m often the one laughing at all the wrong places. I giggle nervously when someone says something, and then realize I’m the only one laughing. Or, I sit passively while everyone else is rolling on the floor laughing (because I’m still trying to figure out what was said). I’m learning the rhythm of humor.
I’m the one making the wrong amount of eye contact. In the US I know approximately when to look up when I’m passing someone on a sidewalk, sometimes its still awkward, but usually I have an “innate” sense for when to make contact. Here I have no idea. Sometimes I look way to early, sometimes I look too late, sometimes I make no eye contact, sometimes I make too much eye contact, sometimes I stare. I don’t have the rhythm of the eye contact.
Normally I’m not much of a toucher. I don’t really call for group hugs, or do lots of hugs goodbye, or pat a friend on the back, or grab someones hand when I’m afraid. But, here I see people doing lots of touching; leaning into each other, stroking each others arms, patting each others heads, gripping hands, or putting a hand on a friends’ knee. But, not really effusively, or overly bubbly. So, I try to do some reaching out and touching when it’s needed. Like patting an older ladies’ arm after her husband passed away. Hugging a friend after she loses a baby. Patting a close friends head when I’m ready to head home. Touching someone’s knee when they aren’t feeling well. Things like that. I’m still getting it wrong though. I lean into people when they want personal space, I startle them when I pat their arms, I scare them when I leave. I bungle through things because I’m still learning the rhythm of personal space.
I often talk too loud, or too soft. I often talk about myself too much (because I’m learning it’s good small talk to complain about sickness and physical ailments…instead of talking about the weather). Or I ask too many questions. I’m still learning the rhythm of body language and social cues.