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microprogrammer
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

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14 May 2024, 8:46 pm

I recently moved into a new neighborhood. I have some anxiety about the idea that I might make my neighbors uncomfortable. That's mainly because I'm very solitary, and I don't have much in the way of small talk. I want to seem secure and down to Earth when I interact with them, but mostly to mind my own business. I pretty much want them to think something like, "Oh he's that bachelor guy that lives down the street. He mostly keeps to himself, but he's alright." I am pretty shy, so tend to clam up when I see strangers, and I think in the past that has contributed to people thinking I'm unfriendly. So this time around I'm trying to make a better impression. But also without going too far and being a people-pleaser with them or seeming awkwardly friendly and familiar. If I could learn the skill of presenting myself in that way that I want to, to people in my neighborhood or in some work situations, that would really be a great asset in my life.



ToughDiamond
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16 May 2024, 11:38 pm

It's tricky if you keep yourself to yourself a lot. I think people feel safer about people they know a bit about, and suspicious of people they don't. Hate to say it, but I think a bit of small talk seems to go a long way. It's good to reveal a bit about who you are and what you do, in small doses, and to ask a bit about who they are and what they do. It's good to seek common ground and ways you can help each other out. It also seems to help if you can bring yourself to learn their rituals and participate in them, though personally I only feel able to do the bare minimum there.

I hide behind my music. I think most of the people who know me where I am now think of me as that guy who sings and plays the guitar quite well. I don't think they know much else about me. Just as well, as they're religious and their political views are miles away from mine. I was lucky to stumble on music as a special interest. Once they decide they like my music, they come up and tell me so, and in theory I can develop friendships, but in practice I'm so focussed on the music and avoiding social gaffes that I've done very little else but play to them. Mostly I've waited for them to show interest in me. I'm kind of non-proactive like that. A smile does a lot of good, so if you're the cheerful type, that can help.



microprogrammer
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

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17 May 2024, 9:16 pm

I am going to try very hard to do those things. I've been sitting on my porch and reading for about thirty minutes per day this week and trying to appear relaxed and friendly while I'm out there. Unfortunately I can seem a bit serious, or flat maybe, a lot of times. Especially when I'm feeling shy. Depression runs in my family, and I don't let it hold me back, but I think my mood fluctuates a little more than the average person's does. But I understand it's good to try to seem more friendly and open, so I'll keep working on it by trial and error. And when I'm in a good mood I am actually pretty lighthearted and cheerful.

And I would definitely like to improve my small talk. I think the hardest thing for me is to not go too deep into things in a way that puts people off. But I'm old enough now to know that you can't let those kinds of excuses hold you back. And I've found myself at a place in life where I have almost no one to turn to outside of the basic interactions with my coworkers, living alone far from old friends and family going their separate ways. So I really don't have much of a choice but to open up at least a bit. To have one good friend would be like winning the lottery, haha. But experience has also taught me that good new friends aren't always easy to find as an adult. I'm not being negative about it though. Things will work themselves out in time I believe.

That's really great that you have that talent and interest that you can share with others, that is something expressive and that people enjoy. I used to play guitar, and tried to sing a little, though I never felt like I got very good at it. I can relate to being non-proactive.



microprogrammer
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

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17 May 2024, 9:23 pm

Another thing I would add is that there is a bunch of rowdy young people living across the street from me. I'd say they're in their late teens to early twenties. I think they've been enjoying trying to get a rise out of me. I've been trying really hard to take it in stride and be a good sport about it, while also showing them that they don't intimidate me. Just after I moved in one of the guys and his friend stood across the street from me as I walked out to my car and laughed hysterically at me, as if to say, "you're not impressive to us". I just waved nonchalantly and went on with my day. I'm truly happy to be at a point in life where I can let that sort of thing go with much greater ease. I guess I have had a few chances to practice that over the years. Being quiet and living alone must make some people think I'm an easy target, but I'm not so much anymore now that I've learned that most people lose interest if you ignore them. It also helps to remember what idiots I and some of my friends where at times when we were that age :lol:



microprogrammer
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

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17 May 2024, 10:32 pm

And to anyone in that age range that might read this, I known not everyone goes through a period of acting foolishly in their adolescent years, but I certainly did do that, and it makes me a little more understanding about others.



ToughDiamond
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17 May 2024, 10:50 pm

Shame about those kids. Not something I've had a lot of trouble with. When I have, if I've not been able to think of a cutting put-down I've just ignored them or given them the finger. Much like I do to so-called adults who try to do the same thing, but again I haven't had much trouble with those either.



microprogrammer
Blue Jay
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17 May 2024, 11:11 pm

That's definitely the approach I'll be taking with this bunch. I hadn't had a lot of trouble with things like that until recent years. It's a bit hard for me to resist thinking it's related to the political climate here in the U.S. these days, but maybe it's just a convenient explanation, who knows. People seem to feel they have more to prove or something, and seem a lot less hesitant to behave aggressively.

But oh well, I can't waste too much of my energy worrying about that. It's their problem. The vast majority of people like that are not a real threat, it's all show.



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18 May 2024, 3:11 am

Society does seem to be breaking down, though I've heard of similar cruelty all my life. Luckily for me, very little of it has found its way to my door so far.



microprogrammer
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

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18 May 2024, 8:01 am

Last night they were out in the street revving their engines at 1:30 am. Even though several of their neighbors have families with young children. It was done to piss me off and disrespect me, but in the process it was rude to all the other neighbors too.

People do love to bully me sometimes. It never holds me back for long. Despite being shy, I'm not timid about being physically intimidated. And I'm not in good shape or anything like that. I have no plans to ever get in a physical confrontation with anyone, and wouldn't win if I did get into one. People just love to publicly disrespect me and rub it in my face. I think of that kind of behavior as emotional manipulation more than anything, and some people are exceptionally good at it, I've noticed.

It keeps happening to me in different places. So the fact is, it's probably something about me. I will keep soldiering on though.



microprogrammer
Blue Jay
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18 May 2024, 9:03 am

It's also probably not all about me. Those same people probably give others a hard time too.



microprogrammer
Blue Jay
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18 May 2024, 10:21 am

And onward and upward, as they say. Despite that situation being a real annoyance, it's much too easy to complain on the internet.



ToughDiamond
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18 May 2024, 10:57 am

microprogrammer wrote:
Last night they were out in the street revving their engines at 1:30 am. Even though several of their neighbors have families with young children. It was done to piss me off and disrespect me, but in the process it was rude to all the other neighbors too.

People do love to bully me sometimes. It never holds me back for long. Despite being shy, I'm not timid about being physically intimidated. And I'm not in good shape or anything like that. I have no plans to ever get in a physical confrontation with anyone, and wouldn't win if I did get into one. People just love to publicly disrespect me and rub it in my face. I think of that kind of behavior as emotional manipulation more than anything, and some people are exceptionally good at it, I've noticed.

It keeps happening to me in different places. So the fact is, it's probably something about me. I will keep soldiering on though.

Sad to hear that. Dad used to have an extreme hatred of bullies and was something of a vigilante. Once when I was very young I annoyed him and he told me to make my own way home, but he secretly followed me to keep an eye on me. I got very mildly bullied on the way by 2 kids, then he popped up out of nowhere and told me to walk on. Then he assaulted them. Not GBH, just a good hiding. He got away with it. I guess I've inherited his hatred of bullies, though not quite so extreme. It's much harder to get away with beating bullies up these days.

Your local "gentry" might make a good icebreaker as a topic to discuss briefly with the adults. You're probably not the only one to have been bothered by them revving their engines late at night. I doubt they'll want to do anything about it, but it might be a bit of mutual emotional support, and a common whinge helps to create bonds in a small way. Somewhere between serious talk and small talk. It might put them at their ease to know you're relatively normal. Assuming they're not as bad as the kids.



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Blue Jay
Blue Jay

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18 May 2024, 1:02 pm

That is honestly really inspiring to hear about how your dad felt towards bullies. I wish there were more people with that attitude. Though I can definitely see how it's much harder to get away with things like that these days.

That's a good idea too about breaking the ice with that topic. I could probably try to bring it up in a lighthearted way, with a laugh and an eye roll. To be honest I live in an area where a lot of people from different places -- in the U.S. and in the world more generally -- are living close together. I don't think that's a bad thing at all, but maybe it lends itself a little bit to easier misunderstandings. If I had kids, knowing that, I would try to teach them to be civil and get along with their community as best they can, in spite of differences. But I guess some people haven't quite reached that same viewpoint.



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18 May 2024, 5:00 pm

He was good like that. 8) Though he overdid it once. Teenagers were breaking into allotments and doing their best to break the hearts of ageing men who were keeping a few pigeons or whatever. So he dug "elephant traps" with sharp rusty nails at the bottom. Shocking stuff. No comment on the moral question. But after a few weeks we talked him into filling them in on the grounds that he might maim somebody and end up with a custodial sentence. He'd never have listened to a moral argument. He simply detested sadism. But wisdom prevailed and he reverted to securing the hedges and just making it near-impossible for intruders.

I think it's good that your neighbours are from various cultures. In my experience, it's the homogenous groups that are the hardest to live with, because oddballs stand out like a sore thumb and homogenous groups tend to hate those who don't conform. But in a very mixed group, nobody sees me as any more of an oddball than anybody else. Of course there's less interpersonal accord generally, because it isn't a close-knit tribe, but I never yet found a close-knit tribe that thinks quite like I do.



microprogrammer
Blue Jay
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18 May 2024, 10:19 pm

That does sound like it could have been trouble. I'm glad you were able to change his mind. But I'm glad there are people like him who can push back on the sadists. They can be very cruel sometimes, I know.

I think it's good too honestly. I think feel a little nervous about the discord sometimes, but I can see that it's better than a close-knit tribe for someone like me. The place I grew up is in an area that's a bit isolated, and I've found I no longer fit into the tribe like I used to, though I was still an oddball even growing up there.



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19 May 2024, 7:32 pm

Later on in his life he said "The police won't protect you, but they won't let you protect yourself either." At the time he had a lightweight fibreglass car, which the local gentry often saw fit to tip over late at night. So he bored a small hole in the tarmac and put a "concrete stud anchor" into it, and fastened the car down via that and a short chain. The car could be disconnected from it easily enough but the jerks couldn't see it, so it stopped them dead. He wasn't well-educated but he solved problems effectively.