September 11th, 2004

profile - cameo

Aloof or Shy?

More and more often, people tell me that their first impression of me is either one of aloofness and/or silence. Sometimes, this bothers me. I never intend to be aloof. I am shy. My shyness comes in two forms: Silent watching or babbling flirt. More often the former rather than the latter. When there are new people in the mix or I am the new person, I usually sit back and watch. It is a defensive mechanism. Figure out the social hierarchy. Figure out the social customs. Open my mouth only when I am certain of what I will say and that what I will say will be accepted. More rarely, I move in the tradition of my fearless friend, Johanna, and wade on into any conversation, smile, flirt, shmooze and pretend I belong. I always envied her that ability.

I cannot help being this way. It is part of being a military brat. Assess the situation then invite people into the parlor. It takes a lot longer to invite them into the home. On the other hand, this shyness and skill of assessing the situation has given me the invaluable skill of simply listening. With nothing more than an encouraging nod or a questioning "Oh?" I allow people to open up. People will tell me the most amazing and personal things because I simply listen to them and allow them to speak. I let them be heard.

I find this to be a skill I appreciate. But, part of me wonders at the cost of the first impression - that I am a silent and aloof person. Because, anyone who knows me knows that I am not - especially on the silent part. It's just something I have been thinking of because of some things that people have said to me recently.
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