Social interactions aren’t complicated until we overthink them. Thanks to a global pandemic I overthink every social inaction I have.
A small town lends itself to blurry social rules. Sure you’re a lawyer now but I remember when you flunked our 7th grade math test.
There’s more information that feeds the narrative and the interaction. This blurriness of lines makes for a more complicated but potentially more fulfilling interaction. It’s also the same structure that makes family so amazing and devastating.
The pandemic drew very clear lines around what was okay and what wasn’t. And it provided a box in which we work. As humans were very good at playing by the rules. They let us know when we’re doing it right and provide a positive feedback loop for when we’re questioning: at least I wore a mask.
Now that we are on the other side of the pandemic I find myself trying to find a clear set of rules for new human relationships. I am stumbling and letting past experience define my future interactions. I hesitate to dive into conversations and interactions. Worrying I’m comeing off too strong.
My experience is that most people want to belong. Getting to that belonging as an adult who doesn’t interact with the same people in a variety of different contexts isn’t helpful. It takes longer. It also take a level of courage that I haven’t relied on since high school.
Showing up with the same people everyday in a variety of contexts despite what happened previously.
I ran into a colleague at my daughter’s school. I introduced him to my wife and then described his job completely wrong. I felt embarrassed, as it’s something I should have known. I didn’t know what else to say to him after that. We sat next to each other in silence.
I can only assume he wasn’t angry, or offended as he didn’t storm off. He’s kind and generous. The only thing preventing me from continuing the interaction was my judgement for my huge mistake.
The trick now is to get over the embarrassment and remember that the I will likely never forget what he does. I will always be able to introduce him.