I’ve said it before – I feel weird.
I don’t mean to be weird, but I find that when I try to participate in conversation with new people, I am now “the girl who tells strange, foreign, potentially exaggerated stories.” My stories usually start with “In (fill in the blank of a foreign country)” and involve statements like, “and the bathroom just had boards over a trough in the ground . . . ” or “so I was cleaning out the inside of the chicken . . . ”
Bringing these stories up in conversation with new people feels like the social equivalent of dragging the needle across the record at a party, or jumping on a couch and yelling, “Boing!” It puts me in the category of “weird.”
I don’t mean to throw conversational curve balls, but I’m just sharing what I know. I’m reminded of an interpersonal communication class I took in college, where we were taught that each person in a conversation has a circle of experience from which they speak. Where our circles overlap with others, that’s where we find common ground from which to interact and understand one another. When we try to share part of our circle that doesn’t overlap with another’s, it can be as though we are speaking another language. In living 13 years overseas, my circle has shifted away from others. I have shifted.
After awhile, I’m tempted just to not speak at all. At times it feels like the easier, safer option. I might not be able to participate in the group, but at least I don’t feel like an outsider.
Then Friday morning and again last night I went to places populated with people who have also landed themselves in the “weird” category. And I heard phrases like, “In China . . .” and “the guy glued my Birkenstocks back together for $2!” and best of all, I heard, “I know exactly how you feel.”
I guess that’s all I need. I know I’ll always be a little weird here. I’m ok with that, as long as once in awhile someone comes along and reminds me that I’m not alone in my weirdness, and that they are a little weird too.
See, my stories involve things like this. I just don’t get this kind of stuff in America.