‘I am woman, hear me roar!’ In the top ten of cringe-worthy feminist phrases, for me this comes in at number one. I mean, seriously. Why does a woman have to roar in order to be heard? Why can’t we just be heard when we speak? I am a pretty ballsy confident woman but the trouble is, often I can’t be heard when I speak, even if I try to roar.
Being freelance, I have been the new girl on countless occasions. Trust me, it never gets easier. Many years ago, on my first day at a new company I wrote on a document, in 6-point font, ‘I am so small and insignificant, why can’t I speak to people, everything I say is stupid, they are going to find out I’m rubbish and sack me.’ Truly. Two weeks later I was told what a good job I was doing and had amazing new friends who are still friends today. Insecure? moi?
I was reminded of the agony of starting a new job when I spent my first week in Glasgow prior to starting a six month project there. Although it is the same company I have been working at for the last 10 months, it is a new office with new people and my social incompetence reared its ugly head. What’s worse is that they are a group of lovely people and having done the job for 12 years now, there really is no need for career anxiety…However, too often I found myself asking asinine questions, coming out with inappropriate, or worse unfunny, banter, laughing like a loony person at bad jokes or just being strangely quiet and unable to join in with the small talk. I think that is my basic problem – I don’t even know what small talk is. I can’t talk about the weather, or shopping or what you’re doing this weekend – I mean I can but it just feels so fake and insincere that I’d rather not, I’d rather talk about things that matter I guess, but that just makes me sound like a wanker. God, it’s tough to be me.
Here’s a cautionary tale. When meeting a new fella’s family and friends for the first time, do not do the following:
- Do not scream ‘Fucking go, fucking Mo!’ into his mother’s ear, within 3 minutes of meeting her.
- Do not tell his sister, who’s a wine expert, that all white wine is essentially ‘bitch diesel’.
- Do not loudly label his best friend as ‘Officially Annoying’.
- Do not beat the same sister later that night at arm-wrestling, twice, on both arms.
These may seem like basic obvious rules, and yet I was unable to abide by them and broke them in spectacular fashion. Hey, I guess it was more fun than just having a chat.
Having felt like the outsider all my life, as most of us do, and having never been able to banter and gossip like some people, I have pretty much accepted that this is just the way things are. Fortunately, usually after a couple of weeks, I have ridden out this storm of crazy insecurity and settled into a rhythm of semi-normality with people – or at least they’ve found my social fuck-ups endearing.
So, I really hope everybody keeps talking at me, even though I may not hear a word they’re saying and they are only echoes in my mind, I’ll get to where the sun keeps shining. I love that song, both heart-breaking and beautiful at the same time.
We sometimes need a reminder that we don’t need to roar, we just need to keep talking and we’ll get there eventually.