mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I can't work up the nerve to ask chicks out, but I am a master debater...

A few weeks ago, I was at a local dive bar, doing Kareoke. In between a musical break while I was murdering One Week by the Barenaked Ladies, I heard T, bsom's wife, comment to one of the people who runs the trivia night something to the effect that "I don't get it, he's usually really quiet, but he'll do this".

So why will madanthony get up in front of a bar full of people he doesn't know and sing, even though he's probably worse at singing than the average person, but will shy away from a conversation with one person he doesn't know - or doesn't know well - even though he's probably at least average at having conversations?

I don't know the reason, but it's not shocking. I've long done a lot of activities that involved getting up in front of people. I did Extemporaneous speaking, or extemp, in Forensics in high school - a form of public speaking where you get a statement, usually about a political issue, and have half an hour to research it before giving a 7 minute speech on the subject. I did pretty well, and went to Nationals the two years I did it (although it helped that it wasn't a terribly popular category - I think the first year I did it there were 7 people, and the top two went to nats). I also did mock trial in high school, and debate in college. Once again, I wasn't great any of these things, but I could generally hold my own, and didn't run away crying midspeech or anything.

I do think I've gotten less confident over time - I found myself struggling a little more when I was working on my MBA and had to give presentations - but I still got through it, and it may just be that I was out of practice.

But while I can embarrass myself musically in public, I tend to avoid smaller conversations. I've always dreaded job interviews, dreading having to talk about myself, to answer questions on the spot. At work, I generally try to avoid conversations with anyone above my direct boss, figuring that the chances of me saying something that hurts me are much greater than the chances of saying something that helps me. I dread having to make conversation with people I don't know well. I can't imagine walking up to, say, a girl I didn't know and introducing myself. Which is probably why I seem to suffer from chronic singleness.

I'm sure there is a lesson in here, but I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's that if I want to do something enough, I can get past the nerves - at least that's what I hope. Maybe it's that I'm better at talking about things I believe in, like politics, than about myself, whom I really don't believe in all that much. Maybe it's that large groups seem anonymous, which makes them easier to deal with than an individual who is focused on me.

The best thing I could probably do for myself is to force myself to talk to more people - maybe start going on job interviews for jobs I'm not really interested in just to get the experience. I don't go to a whole lot of parties or other places where I can introduce myself to random people, especially of the opposite sex. I guess I could be that creepy guy who tries to start random conversations with people at the grocery store or other public places, but I don't think that's really going to help me get anything other than odd looks.


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