In May of 2012 a shiny opportunity appeared on the horizon: a new job in Johannesburg with my company. By July the prospect was real and by September I had moved to a new continent. In the process of setting up my life in a new city with no traction points except my job, I’ve had almost endless opportunities to learn/confirm things about myself. This is installment 2 in what I am now calling “In a New Place Series.” I wrote installment 1 without realizing it while I was in Rwanda.
Making friends is a daunting task. I’ve been known to cancel “play dates,” to use a childhood term, because the prospect of undiluted one-on-one time with a new person totally overwhelms me. There is no leaving the room, no talking to the person on your left, no bringing the group into the topic, no excusing yourself to the bathroom or bar and blaming crowds for the temporary disappearance. And while I prefer to ask questions over being asked questions, not offering something of yourself in return creates a bad interview instead of a good conversation. And this is really the crux of my issue. I don’t know how to convey my person-hood to new people. What facts, experiences, anecdotes most clearly, concisely and charmingly convey me? To what will the other person relate? And how should I share? Preferences are what you like and facts are what happened, but personality is how you are and how you do. I find my what’s dull and so try to bring the luster in through the how’s, but I am a terrible self-packager and promoter. If I were a PR company and I hired myself, I would promptly fire myself.
Below is a list of the totally lame yet unshakable identifiers which it seems I cannot stop relying on.
- lover of tomatoes
- a city person
- a fearer of the sun
- lover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the sanctity of the four (Kiedis, Balzary, Smith, Frusciante)
- ambivalence regarding the value of procreation
- lover of live music and music in general, but lacking the ability to cogently provide genres or educate others
- supposed fan of dancing, but requiring specific circumstances for said dancing and possessing limited ability to express myself through the art of dance.
- appreciation of geeks, defined as people with a passion and commitment to a topic, practice or subculture
- knowledge of cooking and food but inability and/or disinterest in practicing the magic that is culinary creation
- a person who writes/emails a lot
It seems that if I am ever to get out of my own way in the pursuit of friend making, I will need to hire a current best-friend with a sense of humor and a knack for narrative to help me come up with a PR campaign.