Ambitions Turned Inward (ATI) has turned out to be something much more significant that I thought it would at the beginning of this series. The first post was about wrapping my head around the idea of turning my ever present ambitions inward was all about. The second in the series was about discovering what I might want to do with the rest of my life. The third was about trying to discover what gave me joy in my earlier life. This post is about shedding things that give me no pleasure. One of those is to become more social.
Being deaf means being cut off from others, being left out of conversations, and having no idea what I can contribute. Until the last handful of years, these problems were overwhelming to the point of constant anxiety and depression. But, as speech-to-text apps have improved, part of that barrier has been broken. Part, but certainly not all. These apps are very useful, but still very limited for my needs.
They do a good job being my “ears” when I am talking with one person who is speaking clearly in a quiet environment. If the speaker is talking very quietly or slurring their words, what comes out of the speech-to-text apps is often gibberish. Just like lip-reading, which only provides about 20% of what is being said, it becomes a stress inducing guessing game.
In group conversations or where there are several other people around, the text often includes maybe a half dozen different interspersed conversations at the same time. Again, it’s a pure guessing game. Under these conditions, trying to figure out how to interact continues to be very difficult, and frustrating. Because of my deafness, it gives me no joy to be constantly struggling trying to be more social. I simply don’t need that tension any longer.
Being an Aspie means that I often simply don’t understand the social etiquette of group conversations. It also means that I often take things literally when they are meant otherwise. Chit-chat and group dynamics are very frustrating things for me. It gives me no pleasure to have to struggle with group dynamics.
I have worked very hard in the last year and a half to become part of the community here at my RetCom (retirement community). But, it has been mostly a failure. I forced myself to join a few weekly events, but all what seems to happen is that my depression just deepens because I am just not a social animal.
Finally, getting to the point of this post, I have decided, at least temporarily, to withdraw from these and future attempts at becoming part of the crowd here in my RetCom. It has been a couple of weeks since I have been to a social event, and my depression is already somewhat subsiding.
The point of all this is that I am, for the most part, trying to be social to meet others’ expectations, and it is creating more problems than it solves. I need to finally realize this and just live my life as I want. Yes, it would be nice to have more friends here, but not at the expense of ever-rising anxiety.
I will continue this personal isolation for the foreseeable future, but maybe decide to try it again if I can discover a more stress relieving way to do that. That is the lesson I have learned in this post #4.
Lonely is being alone and not wanting to be
I very much enjoy my own company. I need to face the fact that I am living between two worlds, and forcing myself into social situations will never lead to anything satisfying.
8 thoughts on “Ambitions Turned Inward – Part 4 – On Becoming Social”
Just remember you have also made online friends who enjoy reading what you have to say. Wishing you happy future journeys.
Yes, EJ, I cherish all my on-line friends. You, and all the others, mean more to me than you can imagine.
You have discovered a very important truth: you are who you are and you know what pleases you. That is a state of awareness that not many of us can claim.
Regardless of how your social isolation may look to others, the only person whose opinion counts is yours.
Thanks for the encouragement, Bob. After being basically alone in the caregiver mode for more than a decade, and then suddenly thrust into a close population of 200 or so, I thought I needed to become more social, but I found out that is just not the case for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the one-on-one discussions I have daily, it’s just the group stuff that stresses me out. Now that I have finally accepted that fact, I think my remaining years here will be more enjoyable. For several reasons, groups just aren’t my thing anymore if they ever were. Thank heaven, I love my own company, and the things I am currently involved in. 🙃
I am pleased for you that you have decided what is best for you after giving the social life a fair trial. I can understand your decision as my husband has quite a severe hearing loss and at the moment his hearing aids are not helping him especially in group situations and he is feeling much like your description of anxiety. After all, it is best that you please yourself as it is important for you to be happy and trying to please others who may not completely understand you is not a good situation for you. I hope you continue to feel better about your new less social life.
Thanks for the thoughts, Rosie. I went deaf 35 years ago, but wore hearing aids for 20 years before that. I have many posts here that may help your husband in these type of situations. Just click on “Daily Journal” at the top of each post and then select “Hearing Loss”.
I am glad that I tried to be more social here at my RetCom, but it is time to back away from that.
Thanks for reading RJsCorner.
It’s hard to admit to others, but the isolation of the last few years has not been difficult for me and instead is somewhat calming. For all my life, I have enjoyed being on the outside edge of a group of friends or acquaintances, observing without the need to participate. That’s with the exception of my family members whom I love interacting with and who don’t care if I accidentally break into a conversation, thinking that a pause means that person is through with what he or she is saying. I do not have your degree of hearing loss but I do need hearing aids because of an inherited form of hearing loss. I certainly don’t understand all you’re experiencing but I applaud your attempt or trial of a different level of interaction and then honest assessment that it’s not for you.
Thanks for the thoughts, Linda. Again, you and I see the world much the same. When I am around family, of which there are fewer and fewer now, they know me, so interacting is much easier. We are stuck between two worlds in that most we deal with daily, have little idea who we are, and just don’t celebrate the diversity of life. Maybe they just don’t know how, but that is no excuse…
I have always enjoyed my own company, or aloneness if you must, These last two years I was determined to re-test my “fitting into the crowd”; that proved to have more cons than pros. But, at least I gave it a try.
People say I am brave to face my afflictions. I don’t think I am brave, I just play the cards of life that were dealt me.
It was nice “talking” with you again, Linda.