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The Difficult art of Socialization !!

 
 
DrMom
 
Reply Mon 15 Jun, 2009 11:47 pm
I want to ask the wiser and socialization saavy ladies. How do I stay true to myself and still be politically correct or in other words not be shunned from certain social circles?
Here is a confession , much of my life I have been busy studying. With much disappointment ( in myself) I am now realizing that I don't easily fit in. That was/is my experience with almost any new circle ( including a2k)
I have noticed that I do well one on one but when it comes to being part of any premade circle I do not fare too well. So what is the trick? Should I just stay quiet in the beginning ( that is kind of hard)
I am Asian by birth. Is that a factor?
Tell me if you had let's say a new neighbor, new face in the Library or GYM, What will make you want to introduce that person to your circle .
I am not sure if I am making myself clear so please be sure to ask and I will provide you with plenty of details ( this being the story of my Life).
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aidan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 15 Jun, 2009 11:54 pm
@DrMom,
Why would you even want to be a part of a social circle that would shun anyone?

I'm not good with premade or any other sort of set grouping either. I think it's because I have never liked them myself. They feel constricting to me. I enjoy the possibilities of change and flow and movement without restriction.
Cliques or groups inhibit that.

I don't know how to tell you to be comfortable with it though if you're not.
I choose individuals that I like - I don't even look at what grouping they're in- and this has always worked for me. I feel that I have a very wide and diverse group of friends of all ages, nationalities, religious affiliations and across both genders, and I think this is specifically because I pay no never mind to groups.

I wouldn't change a thing about yourself to fit in with a group though. I think that's a recipe for personal frustration and unhappiness.

Quote:

Tell me if you had let's say a new neighbor, new face in the Library or GYM, What will make you want to introduce that person to your circle

If they seemed kind, I'd be interested in meeting any new person, and then from there, I always try to introduce my friends to each other.
DrMom
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 12:11 am
@aidan,
You wouldn't know how much of a relief your reply was. So I think I am Ok looking at individuals and not worrying about groups.
There is something to be said about group dynamics though. I have found on more than one occasion( thanks to many relocations) that while I was being myself at let's say a new hospital , the people in general were taking offense to that. Since they didn't know me they didn't expect me to be very vocal or sharing or even funny. Is that true with almost all Job settings or is it that in health care it may be more rigid?
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 12:27 am
@DrMom,
Laughing Laughing Laughing Let's just say that I have my own ideas about social interactions in the health care employment arena - (or specifically hospitals). Because I don't work in health care, but married a health care professional - I have a somewhat objective, but up close and personal perspective. I'm always amazed at the differing social rules and mores of interaction I hear about and/or have observed myself in health care, as compared to schools (which is the professional arena I worked in).

I think hospitals are a minefield of social paradoxes and conundrums. They seem to me to be some sort of alien land where they've made up their own rules of appropriate communication and behavior. Really - I think I'd find it very, very hard to maneuver, and to learn how to identify the differing strata - they almost seem like castes.
But I can understand how the communication has to differ in such emergent and stressful situations that are the norm in the health care field.

I guess I'd say, that if you find that throughout all your life situations, people take offence at you being yourself, it might be good to look at what you're doing to cause that. But if it's just in one specific place or with one new group - I'd just chalk it up to people being unused to people like you. Give them a chance to get used to you being vocal or sharing or funny.
Honestly, it may be the mistaken cultural expectations many Americans impose on Asians. Maybe they think you're supposed to be demure or something - show them they shouldn't expect anything -until you show them who you really are.

But yeah - I'd probably get kicked out of a hospital if I tried to work in one. Sometimes my husband would come home and he'd say something in this weird, demanding tone of voice, which he NEVER used with me, and I'd say, 'Is that how you talk to the people at work? Do you think I'm a nurse or something? And then I'd realize - Jeez - if that's how concrete the hierarchy is - that even this mild mannered nice guy starts getting all demanding and rude - I'd never have made it as a nurse. Laughing Laughing
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 05:36 am
@DrMom,
I've moved a lot, and one of the things I've learned is that settled adults are not generally looking for friends. They usually already have a social situation they're happy with and don't feel a need for expanding, socially. This has two main implications:

1.) If you try too hard/ come on too strong, they get suspicious. What do you want? They can wonder everything from simply whether you don't have many/any friends and therefore would be high-maintenance, to whether you're trying to recruit them in to a cult. (Don't laugh, the only people who were friendly to me in L.A. in my first year were trying to do just that...)

2.) Your best bet is situations in which EVERYONE is new to each other in some way. Many of my best friends here are people I met when my daughter entered kindergarten, who also didn't really know anyone yet. Classes can also sometimes accomplish that, or other organized situations where people don't already know each other.


I have more but my computer keeps crashing so I'll post this and come back...
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 05:47 am
@sozobe,
'K, I'm back.

That's speaking generally. Recognizing that baseline for most adults is to not really be interested in taking on new friends, and not taking that personally can be a good start. Just stay friendly, take what opportunities present themselves, and then see what happens.

Now, more specifically -- I do know what you mean about having a hard time on A2K. I see nothing to object to in this post! One of the nice things about it is that it's relatively self-deprecating. In the past, you've been pretty quick to trot out your qualifications and your intelligence and why you already know what to do -- even in the middle of asking for advice. There's a certain defensiveness that's often there -- again, not in this post -- that I could see would cause trouble for you.

I think A2K is a really good way to practice this stuff, so I think you're on the right track.
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DrMom
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 03:52 pm
Aidan Thanks again. I think I am guilty of blurring the boundaries at work. It has something to do with having a complete lack of family and friends outside the work place. When you spend twelve hours at work it just does not happen that you socialize that much outside. On off days when I do get outside all those country club ladies in their premade circles appear disapproving of me . I remember one nice one whose husband worked with me. She would never talk to me even on prompting. Her husband said she is too shy!!!
Most nurses at work love me and I love them. I think older old school males and surgeons and "administrators" ( I am sure about this one in particular)in general don't like me.
Sozobe Thanks . What you said was an eyeopener . How could I be so naive to not know that adults are not looking for friends. I am always very expressive of my search for true deep friendships. I feel this is the time in my life to do that. When you migrate you leave everything behind including those treasured highschool friends. Then sometimes it is just easier and less painful to not keep in touch.
I am going in tangents again but hey I did not know self depreceation was a likable trait. My husband thinks the staple of my sense of humor is selfdepreceation which he does not approve of.
My experience with a2k!!!. I was going through a rough phase mourning the loss of my beloved sister in law at 27 years of age and facing a emotional challenge in my relationship when I just came across a2k and posted a question thoughtlessly. When several usernames failed I thought "luvmykidsandhubby" ( dont know what possessed me) was a fine one.
Oh what a commotion my post caused, one person thought I was all made up and could not be a educated person and the name and my english was also made fun of. I think that made me defend my intelligence, love of my family etc. etc. So you might say I started with a chip on my shoulder.
So I think you are right ( for the record I always think you are right, at times I argue with you just to have a presence, depreceating enough?) that I come too strong and most people I find already are well settled. Even those not wellsettled claim to be well settled and totally deny any need for meaningfull friendships.
MY daughter will be starting kindergarten this year so I will keep you posted. Just so you know though in my community I went to the tennis coach to ask what time the working women's team meet? He looked at me like I have descended from Mars and said " There are no working women here" That was the end of it because I worked back then.
I don't work right now which is another identity crisis. I don't what to classify myself as.
I will try to mellow out a little. May be carry a book to keep my mouth shut. Untill I get some tactfullness in me. I would love to attend a class on suburban wives ( half joking)
I am reading this months book for our Bookclub in the library. I must say I am not as interested in Guernsy Islanders as in the Book club members. The book is " Guernsy Island Literary and Potato peel pie society"
( I might have spelled Guernsy wrong)
aidan
 
  2  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 04:34 pm
@DrMom,
Quote:
On off days when I do get outside all those country club ladies in their premade circles appear disapproving of me .

What do they disapprove of? Or what do you think they disapprove of?

Quote:
How could I be so naive to not know that adults are not looking for friends.

Part of the reality of being involved in education and training for a profession that can span more than a decade, is constant relocation - for school, for internships, for jobs. We moved five times in twelve years, and I'm a social person, so I was always looking for friends. So I know how you feel,
And eventually, maybe not where I ever expected to, or first looked, I always seemed to find friends wherever I moved - so I believe that means that other adults are looking for friends too. I just think it's important to remember that you may not find a friend who's exactly at the same point in their life as you may be. For instance, you might not make friends with any of the other moms who are bringing their kids to story time - but you might make friends with the librarian.
I think it's good to be open to all sorts of different types of people. Maybe friendship is more easily accessed outside the country club set.
I'll be honest with you - I quickly tired of trying to play that role - which seemed to be expected of me - you know -what neighborhood do you live in, what school do your kids go to -who'd you find to redecorate your house or renovate your kitchen - where are you going skiing this year?
If it doesn't fit - you don't have to do it - it's really not a requirement.
I found it so stifling - too stifling- I couldn't do it.
It doesn't necessarily say anything bad about you if you can't fit in where you're at - maybe it's the situation. There are certain places I've lived where I'd have felt bad or ashamed of myself if I had lived the lifestyle necessary to fit in.
I remember when I lived in one neighborhood and I used to like to mow my lawn - I loved to do it - it was my exercise and then I'd go swimming and I got told that it looked really bad for me to be out there mowing my own lawn, and that I should hire a lawn service like everyone else did.
Whatever - I kept mowing it and ended up being really great friends with the one other woman in the neighborhood who had switched careers - she'd always wanted to do woodworking, so she went back to train to be a carpenter and in her spare time, played on this softball team called the Masterbatters... Laughing
We used to have a hoot together - much more fun than sitting around at the country club all decked out and drinking gin and tonics.

I hope it works out for you - all I know is I would never go back to trying to fit my square-peg self into a round hole. Part of being an adult is having the freedom to leave all that fitting-in 'highschool' stuff behind.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 07:03 pm
@DrMom,
Some very kind words, thank you!

Country club ladies... eek. I have lived here five years now and only really started making friends in the last few years. Before that I lived someplace more country-clubby for four years and made one really good friend but that was about it. In that case, one of the things we bonded over was our dislike of the country-clubbiness of our town.

If you feel a cultural disconnect with the place you live, that definitely makes things harder.

The main thing I'm saying is not "it's impossible to make friends with any adults" but "keeping in mind that adults often don't have any particular need to make new friendships helped me keep perspective." It always takes a while to build up friendships once I move someplace new, and staying philosophical about it is part of what helps the friendships develop eventually. (As opposed to taking it personally.) (And I hope to stay here a good long time... although my best friend here might have to move, which is stressing me out! But I digress.)

Your daughter starting kindergarten is a great opportunity. Book Clubs are a great idea too, even if that particular book doesn't sound particularly interesting! Sometimes the best book club discussions happen when people hate the book, though, and maybe there will be another person who wasn't particularly taken with it and you guys can form a splinter book club! Wink

How long have you lived in your current place and how long since you stopped working...?

Good luck...
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DrMom
 
  1  
Reply Tue 16 Jun, 2009 10:20 pm
'What do they disapprove of? Or what do you think they disapprove of?'
To give you an example I would be watching my son play Tennis and all these ladies would be sitting there talking and I would go say Hi, after customary responses they would go on with their chatting.After a while I would notice I have been quite and no one is really making any attempt to include me in the conversation or motioning me to come closer. Since childhod I just hate being ignored so I guess it has something to do with my past.
But then we moved again in less than two years. Here in South Florida I have lived less than a year now. There is our ethnic community and then my neighborhood . Here is the state of affairs. I have a friend from medschool who is an oncologist now and she has lived here for a while. So I was happy to be here. Shortly after I moved I was invited to an engagement party. She called me one day prior to the party to say " Be there earlier than or right at the time " I didnt get it. Now if you now our community things don't start on time and being an hour or so late is considered being on time. I was not ready to be there that early so when I got there I saw this tightly wound circle of ladies who were the "Big Shot's wives club" and the rest of the women scattered around that circle. My friend complimented me on my Sari and motioned her neighbor to move her chair a little. She refused stating it would block the way. My friend dragged a chair for me to be on her side. But she also seemed to afraid to be thrown out of that circle. She told me that is why she wanted me to be early. Now throughout the function these ladies won't look at me or talk to me ( my husband ofcourse thought I was the best looking one ) but what interested me is that they wont look at eachother and wont talk to each other either. Because of the way they were guarding their circle they were not able to see th e engagement ceremony but they didn't seem to care.
After that day I promised myself that no circles will ever be allowed at my get togethers. If there is a risk then assigned seating will be employed.

The neighborhood is such that houses are expansive and you don't see the neighbor easily. People I meet at the library and kids Karate are nice and like Soz said well settled. Whenever I see them I feel an urge to dress better which is ironic because when I worked I had the money but no time to be in anything but scrubs and now I might have the time but no money. So I think work or no work I will always be a misfit which is OK.
Now these are the kind of groups I am talking about Aidan.

Soz, I am so much more comfortable after reading your post . Thanks for sharing. I do think I was taking it personally . How long did it take you to not do so?
I have not lived for more than three years at any place. In my current house I have lived now for 11 months. I just stopped working two months ago then traveled backhome with kids. My husbands software consulting buusiness is not so hot these days , so I might have to start working when the school year starts.
BTW my son wrote a post for Sozolet on your Junie B Jones thread a while back .He is into Hardy boys this summer. Was Sozolet reading before KinderGarten?

aidan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 02:21 am
@DrMom,
Quote:
Now throughout the function these ladies won't look at me or talk to me ( my husband ofcourse thought I was the best looking one ) but what interested me is that they wont look at eachother and wont talk to each other either. Because of the way they were guarding their circle they were not able to see th e engagement ceremony but they didn't seem to care.

Well that sounds like ill-bred, rude, and pointless behavior. Do you have to go to these things? What's the point?
Quote:

After that day I promised myself that no circles will ever be allowed at my get togethers. If there is a risk then assigned seating will be employed.
Laughing Laughing That'll shake things up! No but really, a good hostess takes note of and remembers who may not be as familiar with everyone else present and makes an effort to introduce that person into the other more established circles of acquaintances or friends. If I give a party and I see someone obviously struggling or sitting by him or herself - that's the person I spend my time with- and if I can't - if I'm busy going in or out of the kitchen and cooking - I find a friend who I know will be kind and attentive and put that person's chair next to that person. But as I said - I don't tend to make friends with rude and mean people who are jockeying for social status - so that sort of thing is something I've never run into at any parties I've given. I've never had to assign seats thank god.
Quote:

So I think work or no work I will always be a misfit which is OK.

Yeah - as long as you're okay with it.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 05:59 am
@DrMom,
Quote:
Soz, I am so much more comfortable after reading your post . Thanks for sharing. I do think I was taking it personally . How long did it take you to not do so?


I think I started to get it towards the end of living in my last place (IL), then got it a lot more at the beginning of living here (OH), then just really got it a few months ago. I'll explain.

In IL, I definitely took it personally. I'd made major moves twice before that. The first was for college -- and I don't think there's a better environment for making friends than when you first go off to college. A dorm full of freshmen far away from home -- the definition of adults (if barely) who need to make friends. I stayed there eight years and some of my best friends when I left were the people I'd met my first week of college.

Then I moved to L.A. and worked my butt off for three years. I really didn't make many friends outside of work. Part of that was the culture of L.A. (like the culty people I mentioned before), part of it was that I worked so damn hard (60-80 hr weeks), part of it was that there was a lot of socializing that happened at work -- I was the director of an agency with eight staff members and usually about 50 clients at a time, and I also worked with peers at other agencies often -- so I didn't really feel a lack, socially. But there were constraints because of professionalism. (My peers were my closest friends but even then we rarely if ever got together outside of work. We'd just have very fun working lunches. Smile)

Then I moved to IL. That was the first time I moved someplace as an adult and tried to make friends. I wasn't working. I did volunteer a lot which helped save my sanity and introduced me to a lot of friendly acquaintances, but nobody emerged as a real friend. I did take a lot of that personally. Not coincidentally, that was when I first started being active in an online community (Abuzz).

I eventually (after a couple of years? forget how long it took) met my very good friend, and when the subject came up later we realized we both had taken it personally (our kids were the same age and we became stay-at-home parents at the same time) when it wasn't necessarily about us.

I kept that in mind when I moved here, and recognized that people were perfectly nice and friendly, just they already had their lives and they were pretty happy with them. There were a lot of people I nodded and smiled at, and then kept seeing them, and then things gradually just grew. Kindergarten is good for that too, especially if you wait outside to pick up the kids. Go early! That's how I made many friends, chatting as we waited to pick up the kids.

Anyway, what happened a few months ago is that the shoe was finally on the other foot. I've lived here five years and finally, finally, for the first time since I left my college town, feel really rooted. I have good friends who I see regularly, and scads of friendly acquaintances.

A new family moved in down the street, and the mom is nice but is really desperate to make new friends (they have some family here but otherwise don't know anyone). My own reaction, I find, is "eek." I'm busy, I have a lot going on, and I don't really want/ need the responsibility.

It's a little more complicated than that -- for example, she's nice but VERY hard for me to lipread. But still, it was a bit eye-opening.

****

Reading... nope, sozlet was relatively late to reading, if she's tearing things up now. People were "concerned" about it at the time (preschool/ early kindergarten), I didn't push though, just let her figure it out in her own time. I knew the basics were there (love of books, lots of modeling, enjoys school/ receptive to instruction, etc.) Funny about Hardy Boys, she's been devouring Nancy Drew lately.
DrMom
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 11:37 am
@aidan,
Quote:
Well that sounds like ill-bred, rude, and pointless behavior. Do you have to go to these things? What's the point?

My Feelings exactly, Thanks.
I have asked the question many times. The two friends I have have said they go for the kids. I think they mean for kids to know they belong to a ethnic group so they don't completely out of place . Which makes me want to ask another question which I have not asked them( don't want to lose these friends yet) but I am asking you.
How important is it that kids move in a ethnic circle where looking good and the Power game is so strongly at Play ? My kids were so bored that day and wanted to leave before I did.
How important is ethnicity anyways, can we teach our kids to be part of the broader circle of Humanity?
So now the same kid who got engaged is getting married. The scarlet wedding invitation seem to be staring at me every time I go into my Closet. I am not sure if I will go or not.
Should I call the hostess and tell her about my experience of " The Circle " so she can take precautionary measures?
You are a good Hostess Aidan. I will keep these tips in mind. I have had quite a few get togethers but they were all close friends and family ( My brother in law now lives within a hour of us) but still I get too involved in Food ( one thing I do well) and I could be a bit more observational to see what is going on with the guests.
DrMom
 
  1  
Reply Wed 17 Jun, 2009 12:00 pm
@sozobe,
Now it is clear to me that what is going on is natural and situational and some of it is the result of my tactlessness. At my kids Karate place I saw these two ladies who were always talking to each other. One is a lawer and the other is a Chef. I was having a get together ( actually an open invitation event) in which my family was going to act in little skits. It was about relationships and parenting. I just thought I should invite them over . When they politely refused I really really insisted. No wonder they thought I was convincing them to part of some cult.
0 Replies
 
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Jun, 2009 12:54 am
@DrMom,
Quote:
I have asked the question many times. The two friends I have have said they go for the kids. I think they mean for kids to know they belong to a ethnic group so they don't completely out of place . Which makes me want to ask another question which I have not asked them( don't want to lose these friends yet) but I am asking you.
How important is it that kids move in a ethnic circle where looking good and the Power game is so strongly at Play ? My kids were so bored that day and wanted to leave before I did.

I'm probably not someone who can understand and realize the full import or all the ins and outs of living in a society in which one's ethnicity is different from the majority- as I'm a white middle class American, born in America to parents whose ancestors have been traced back in America to the late 1700's-
(on both sides paternally - and on my mother's side maternally - she never knew her father).

My initial reaction or impression however, would be that it'd be very important and enriching for the children to be involved in and embraced by their original or birth culture.

I remember having Italian friends and Jewish friends and always being so jealous of their cultural roots and unique and different customs and foods...the atmospheres in their homes seemed so exotic as compared to mine - and I was always drawn to that - yeah, especially the foods and smells and and religious rites.
I thought everything about me seemed bland in comparison - although I did enjoy the expressions of our southern-american culture in New Jersey.
All my friends thought THAT was pretty exotic and different...especially the way my mother always called me by my first and middle names....they'd make fun of me for hours, imitating her accent and saying my name like a hick... Laughing Laughing
I think your situation is probably a lot more complicated than I can really appreciate.
Quote:
How important is ethnicity anyways, can we teach our kids to be part of the broader circle of Humanity?

Yeah - there's that too.
Quote:
So now the same kid who got engaged is getting married. The scarlet wedding invitation seem to be staring at me every time I go into my Closet. I am not sure if I will go or not.

I'd go to the wedding - good food probably- have a glass or two of wine and just try to get outside of the whole mindset of fitting in and finding your place. Can you just go and have a nice time with your husband?
That way you're showing up - not offending anyone - and having a night out. I'd just look at it like that.
Quote:
Should I call the hostess and tell her about my experience of " The Circle " so she can take precautionary measures?

I wouldn't do that. As long as you're sitting next to your husband (whom I presume you like and have a lot in common with) you should have a good time. I can't imagine that she'd split you up (in terms of seating) would she? Just go and eat and laugh and dance and show everyone how to have a good time.
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