time for my tight five

(or my loose forty seconds punctuated with a lot of flop sweat and laughing at the as-yet-unsaid punchline to my own jokes)

being a ridiculously self-critical and anxious introvert is weird sometimes. one of the ways it’s gotten less weird as I’ve gotten older and started a career and shit is that I’m way more comfortable talking in public, to relative strangers, than I used to be.

like what I think finally settled into my brain at some point in the past year or two (in which I’ve really been forced to get used to this by nature of my work) is that the worst-case scenarios for contact with clients or people with whom you have a business relationship just… aren’t that bad? plus I’m naturally relatively good at articulating myself, as much as I tend to stammer and circle back over sentences when I’m talking off the cuff, and also my honed-in-high-school instincts for good bullshitting get me a long way

what I’m still not great at though is jokes. telling jokes or being joke-y to people who don’t know you is fucking weird, man. it’s a minefield even in low-stakes situations, but in an office where a misinterpretation could be a call to HR it’s a minefield. I think it’s a big reason why I am friendly-but-not-friends with most of my coworkers. and to go back to anxiety for a second, this isn’t something I’ve learned by example–it’s something I’ve drilled into myself by being scalded with vicarious embarrassment or shame for other people I’ve seen fail to do it in that context. (I’m pretty sure a mis-aimed joke has gotten at least one former coworker fired. as it should have, whether that person understood their offense or not!)

for my brother’s wedding where I was best man and gave a toast, in the lead-up I pretty much immediately decided I wasn’t going to tell jokes. there are a certain number of narrowly conscripted categories of “wedding toast joke” that I find appropriate, and I’m not good at telling any of those jokes, so I just didn’t bother — I wanted to talk about my love and admiration for my brother, not undercut or insult him or indirectly talk about myself.

I guess the issue is that my go-to modes of funny are of the free-association kind: witty/sarcastic responses to other peoples’ stories or comments. in the comfort of family or friends I can do this without too much fear that I’ll cross lines from “gently fun” to “whoa that was mean dude you suck”

I dunno how extroverts handle this except to say that many of them in my experience simply get by on obliviousness and carelessness, which is not to say they’re mean or harmful but just that they don’t recognize their potential for being such. which isn’t bad! in fact it’s presumably necessary to survive in a lot of social/business environments.

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