Saturday, 29 October 2016

How To Be Friends With An Introvert

Being introverted makes a lot of things in life a bit, well...awkward.    Never is this more keenly felt than when it comes to making friends.

Introverts, in my experience, tend not to have a massive amount of friends, and this is mainly because we don't really like spending a whole lot of time with people.  Being mates can be a touch tricky when you never see anyone.    However, it doesn't mean we're not great friends.  You just need to get to know us and understand our quirks.  

Understand The Need For Time Out:

One of the things that fills me with dread is visitors.  Not short term visitors; those I can cope with.  It's longer term visitors I find hard to handle.    

A few years ago, our family were chatting about renting out a villa somewhere sunny and all going away together. The  idea of this is fine, but the reality of it is altogether different.   It's difficult to explain why, on a joint holiday, you need to be away from everyone for a while.  I daresay it's often seen as rude, but it's not.   

Introverts find too much social interaction knackering.  We can do a couple of hours but, after that, we really need a rest.   It might just be going to the bathroom for 5 minutes and getting away from everything, but anything is better than nothing.

If I'm in company for too long, I get very anxious and fidgety.   Les is an expert at picking up on this and generally knows that I've reached my limit and need to get out.  

Introverts find social situations really stressful.  Remember that it's nothing to do with your company; it's just the way it is!  It's way more stressful for them than it is for you.   

How to be friends with an introvert
Don't make me go out...I beg you!

Be Patient:

Accept that your plans will be broken.  There's no way round that, unless your friend is so scared of you that they're genuinely terrified of letting you down.  And, if this is the situation, then it's hardly much of a friendship, anyway, no?

I made two friends at work when I moved to Wales.    Work is where I make friends because I have to be around the same people every day or I'd get sacked.  If you left me to make friends by, like, going out and stuff, It would never happen.   And I'd be fine with that.   I'm not the lonely sort.

However, the reason I made these friends, apart from the fact that they're stuck with me, is that they're both similar to me; despite being entirely different people.  One is chatty and straight to the point; exactly the type of person that usually scares the pants off me, but underneath, she's a big softie.  

She tells me exactly what she thinks and I like that.   I would *never* dream of doing the same, but I like that she can.  She's kind and thoughtful and her language is just as colourful as mine.  She is offended by nothing and she knows that I'm the same.   

My other friend is gentle and incredibly thoughtful. She doesn't take any crap and is clearly an extremely strong woman. These are things I admire, despite the fact that they're the complete opposite to qualities that I possess.    She has a great sense of humour and the way she talks about her kids is just the best thing ever.   I've never heard someone speak with so much love.  It's obvious that she adores them and their relationships are great.   

I recently had a knock in my car and sent a message to one of them.  Before I knew it, she was round with pain gel and ice packs. This is just the way she is, but she also understands how I am and so she text first.  If it wasn't for them being so understanding, there's no way I'd have been accepted.  Most people think I'm odd/rude.  

I'll be back here if anyone needs me.

Never Be Pushy:

Never harass an introvert.   It's the worst thing you can do to them.  I hate telling people I can't keep plans and I always feel awful about it, but not as awful as I'd feel if I actually go through with them.

Constantly asking an introvert if they're going somewhere will merely make them keep their distance. It makes us feel horrendously guilty and then we keep out of your way for a while because we don't know how to proceed.  

Don't Expect Them To Be The Life and Soul:

I can force myself to be all happy and outgoing, but that's exactly what it is:  forced.   Naturally, I'm pretty quiet, unless I'm in a familiar situation with familiar people, and then I'm absolutely fine.  That doesn't mean I don't find it exhausting, though.

If you have an introvert friend, you'll often find them at the outskirts of things; often chatting to any pets that may be around.   By all means, invite them to your party, but don't expect too much from them when they're there.  Them *being* there is often a huge thing, so leave them be.

I often arrive late and leave early, so don't judge them harshly - they're just trying to cope and keep you happy.  

Don't Make Them Feel Crap About Not Going Out:

I can't count the number of times in my life that I've cancelled plans because I genuinely couldn't face them.   I like making plans *at the time*, but it's impossible to know how I'll feel on the actual day.   Because of this, I'm not the most reliable.   

Some of my reluctance is due to my chronic IBS, so I rarely ever feel like getting dressed up and I'm mostly too uncomfortable to do it, anyway.  The other aspect of this is that I just don't like going out.  My idea of an ideal night is me and Les, a bottle of wine, and something to watch on Netflix.  This makes me happy.   

If you have an introverted friend, this is what you're up against.  It's not that we don't adore you; it's just that we can't cope with going out a lot because of All The Other People.   Ask us to come round to yours in our onesies with a bottle of wine and we'll be right over.   Hey...was that your doorbell?

Suz x

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Oban Chocolate Company

On arriving in Oban, I battled against the driving wind and rain, along Corran Esplanade, and entered beneath the inviting purple facade, looking a bit more windswept than interesting.  Walking into its cosy surroundings, on hard wood floors, the smell of chocolate immediately hit me and, despite resembling some wild eyed, messy haired, scary woman, I could feel myself starting to relax.   Also, after an epic 2.5 hour drive to get there, I was in dire need of coffee.

Oban Chocolate Company coffe and tasting platter

The menu at OCC is extensive and, obviously, contains A LOT of chocolate.   This includes a wide array of hot chocolate drinks, which came in a variety of guises and were just a little too high in calories for me to justify before lunchtime.   Everything in moderation, and all that.   I opted for a chocolate tasting plate, which comprised 6 individual chocolates, as well as a small tub of chocolate buttons, all presented on a piece of slate.   

LT, on the other hand, who is not concerned about calories on account of his hollow legs, went all out and ordered banana chocolate waffles with whipped cream and a large hot choc.   Obviously, I had to try this (for research purposes only).  The little bit I tried then became a slightly bigger bit.  What can I tell you? I have no willpower.   

We sat at a little table, looking out through the massive picture windows and over the water.  The weather was so stormy that we learned the ferries from Oban to Jura, Islay and Mull had all been cancelled.  I'm assuming this meant that people were stuck on these islands and were unable to make it back to the mainland for chocolate.   My heart went out to them all.  

Anyway, after filling out boots, mouths and stomachs (and having to ask the waitress to give us a bag that we could load the stuff we couldn't finish), we checked out the chocolate making process, which can be done by gazing longingly through the window into the kitchen/chocolate wizardry area.  If this isn't quite enough for you, there's also a shop on site where you can purchase all your favourite chocolate to load up your car with for the journey home.  

I was already feeling slightly heavier than when I first arrived, so I didn't make any additional purchases before waddling back to the car. 

Oban Chocolate Company - taster platter

Suz x 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Partially Sober October

I decided to stop drinking during part of October. I got married on Sept 26th and was on honeymoon until Oct 8th, so I obviously couldn’t do it for the first week (no, I couldn’t), and I decided to join in when I got back to Wales.    This is both because I spent the previous two weeks on  holiday and drank more than I would in a normal week, and because I wanted to try and shed a few pounds and thought cutting out alcohol might help.     Exercise might also help, but one step at a time, people.     
Still, not to be deterred by the increased consumption during my holiday, I thought I'd wipe the slate clean the very second I got home. I mean, it can't be that difficult to cut out wine for 3 weeks, right? It's not as if I drink every day or need it to get by; I just enjoy it at the weekend, and probably a little more than I should. OK, a LOT more than I should, but let's not dwell on that too much.
I was sure it would be fairly simple on week nights and the first real test would be after work on a Friday when it's customary for me to be spotted, just after 5pm,  in the wine aisle at Coop in Dolgellau, browsing through their special offers.   As it turns out, I was quite wrong.
After declaring my intentions, full of confidence, to my husband of less than two weeks, we boarded our connecting home from the US and settled in for a 6 hour trip across the ocean.  We were in the air for about 30 mins before the complimentary drinks cart came round, offering red or white wine to passengers, as well as tea, coffee and whatever else it is that people who don’t drink wine consume.  I couldn't believe I was about to turn down a free glass of wine. That has *never* happened before. Seriously.
And it wasn't just the once, ether. Three times the cabin crew came round. THREE. TIMES. And not a drop passed my lips. Did I feel all virtuous and clean? Did I hell. I was tired and more than a little cranky while I sipped the luke warm liquid that was provided to me when I asked for coffee.   
To make things even worse, the lady in the row in front and to my right ordered a glass of white during the first round of drinks and, by the time we were 4 hours in, she was still drinking it. This was also very new to me. I can safely say it's *never* taken me that long to drink a glass of wine; even a massive one.  I felt like she was taunting me, although clearly she had no idea of my inner torment.   It was at this moment that I realised I had possibly bitten off more than I could chew.   And this was only on the first day.
Fast forward a few hours and we finally arrived back at home in North Wales.  As we got into the drive, we realised that there was bunting hanging from our gate.   As we moved further into the grounds of the house, we soon realised it was everywhere.   As well as bunting, there were Chinese lanterns hanging from trees and decals stuck to our windows.  Clearly, someone had been very busy before our return.  This cheered me up no end and it was something that had taken so much time to research and make before attaching to every available surface in the garden.  On trying to get into the house via the back door, we realised that our Bunting Queens had also left gifts.   And you’ve guessed it…these included two bottles of Champagne.   On entering the house and checking the front door, there was also gifts there...including ANOTHER bottle of Champagne.  
Three bottles of Champagne, people…all sitting on my doorsteps, practically begging to be opened to celebrate our marriage.   I might have the worse sense of timing ever.  
Anyway, it’s now the 12th October and I haven’t had any wine since Saturday 8th.    I’ve been way too jet lagged to do anything after work other than collapse into bed, to be honest, so it hasn’t even crossed my mind, so far.   I imagine by the time I shake it off, I'll be staring at all those bottles with longing.  
3 days down, only 20 more to go… 
Suz x