Tag Archives: Conversation

Thursday 27th November- Animal Balloons and Social Awkwardness

This morning, my laptop seemed to be broken. As well as studying, I had an important email to send, so I went to college to ask for help from IT Support.

Searching the college for the IT Support room, I asked some men in a room downstairs for directions. They had some balloons over their desk partitions. The balloons were creatively added to with paper post-it notes to look like animals. I was particularly impressed by one which resembled a chicken. In a moment of impulsive enthusiasm I told them “I love your balloons, they’re awesome!”.

They said, “That’s not how to talk to us”.

It has been said that Social Awkwardness is the Curse of Genius. Well, in my case, it isn’t.

In better circumstances of mental energy, ideally the rest of the conversation should have been along the lines of, haha, you’re a funny guy. Did you make the balloon animals yourself? It’s upstairs? Thank you very much.


I was feeling stressed out already, with a lot of deadlines and a gubbed computer on my mind. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh if it was a joke because he was smiling. And also, I wasn’t sure if it was funny enough to laugh at. It took me a long, blank staring moment to think about this.

In which time, he was starting to look reproachful and said, “Did you get it?”

I wasn’t sure if the joke was what I thought it might be, and how it might work since he was male, and therefore not in possession of any possible metaphorical balloons. Also, since he was possibly a lecturer/ figure of authority was it actually appropriate for me to laugh at his balloon joke? At the same time I still wondering if I found it that funny, and whether I could manage to do a convincing laugh to put his mind at rest that it was indeed a funny joke and I totally understood it.  He really wanted me to laugh by now (and was possibly regretting his balloon punchline), but today I did not have the energy.

I apologised and explained that just like my laptop, my brain was fried. Did he know where to find IT support?

Sometimes, you just have to forget socially awkward moments and get on with life. I hurried upstairs, the IT Support guys sorted my laptop in seconds, and I made a mental note to never use novelty balloons as a conversation topic again.



Tuesday 9th September Day 2 of Student Life

Cycling around again, exploring. I’m really happy I brought my bike.

I did some more unpacking and went out at night with some of my new friends.

Tomorrow I might go to the Societies Fair and join some activities.

Monday 17th July 2014- People are complicated, but that’s okay.

Volunteering at the botanics today, I helped the outdoor gardener with pulling out brambles in the cafe garden. This is satisfying, but can also be a bit prickly. A man sitting at a patio table talked to us about the Scottish Independance referendum for a long time. Although I agree with some of what he said, I had a feeling that he had an agenda. He congratulated me on points I made, which I hadn’t really made and had an air of educating someone who knows less than him, treating me like someone who has been duped and misinformed. I may be a gardener, not a rocket scientist, but I’m also not stupid.

Over the past few years as my hearing has improved (after Johansen IAS therapy made my Auditory Processing Disorder manageable), I have been able to listen to and understand conversations. Because of this I have learned so much more about people. Mainly that people are complicated. There are tiny little nuances and inflections in every sentence, relating to their mood of that moment or perhaps memories which the conversation is bringing up for them. Sometimes they are trying to lead the conversation a certain way, and they want you to say a certain thing. As in the case with this man, they may be trying to persuade you of something. He was confident, assertive, and a little flattering of us when the conversation went in the direction he hoped. He was a very intelligent speaker.

In the past, before Movement and Learning Centre (MLC Scotland) and Johansen Individualised Auditory Stimulation (Johansen IAS)therapies, I would not have recognized this. I used to be permanently strung out from lack of sleep (anxiety issues relating to a fully-retained Moro Reflex), my brain processing at half-speed. Before I went to MLC Scotland, I was too unbalanced and shy to talk to strangers. Without Johansen IAS, I would still have serious Auditory Processing Disorder. and I would not have heard clearly enough to have a conversation with him if we were sitting side-by-side at the table, let alone while I was a few feet away inside of a shrub, fighting with brambles.

I like talking to other people, even although they seem more complicated than they used to. I always learn something new. Nowadays I understand that it is up to me to decide what I take away from conversations. I don’t have to believe that everything people say is true, just because I like them. That was a big learning curve. Before MLC and Johansen therapies, it was extremely difficult for me to interact with other people and make friends. I had a sort of two-dimensional, children’s picture book idea of people. I assumed that most people were uncomplicated and didn’t have much of a personal agenda. Without Retained Reflexes and serious Auditory Processing Disorder, life has got easier for me. I’ve learned more about myself and my own feelings and I think that this has helped me to understand other people more too. Without Retained Reflexes and serious Auditory Processing Disorder holding me back, I’ve had the opportunity to become more emotionally and mentally more complicated than I used to be. I suppose that this might be what growing up is all about.

Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th July 2014 – Market

Saturday 12th July 2014 – Market

This weekend I packed up crafts I’ve been making and headed to a market in the city to sell them. I have sold jewellery and crafts at small local Christmas fairs before, something I have done once or twice a year since I was thirteen. Recently I’ve branched out slightly into local jewellery repairs and crafts. It’s not a living. I can count this year’s repair customers on just one hand, but it’s a little money for something I like doing. Since this market is in the city centre, and the stall rent is more expensive than previous craft fairs I’ve been to, it’s a big step up for me.

The traders were really kind and helped show me the ropes and set up my stall. They are all really interesting people, and when I wasn’t trying to sell stuff, I enjoyed chatting to them. The market traders have a wide variety of stalls and goods. There’s T-shirt sellers, bespoke leather bags, jewellery, anime merchandise, and a professional psychic.

A lot of people, including tourists, can come through the market on a good day. I was hoping to make some money. By the end of the day, I had covered the table price, but didn’t have much extra money to show for it. I hoped for a better day tomorrow, when the stall rent was cheaper.

Sunday 13th July 2014 – Market

Something important I learned today was that to be a successful market trader, you don’t just need to have attractive items to sell. You also require good social skills. Thanks to MLC Scotland and Johansen IAS, I now have the foundations to develop good social skills, however, I haven’t had those foundations for long and I’m still learning as I go.

The jewellery seller across from me in the Market alley was very kind to me. He moved my stall beside his, and gave me hints and tips to help me with talking to customers. There is a strong element of social skills involved in selling anything. As the seller of tartan goods told me, people are coming here to buy things from you. So it’s good to be friendly.

What I’m trying to say is that if you want to be successful selling things to people, you have to be a friend to your customers.

However, the first thing I did that morning was put my foot right in it. I’ve been really busy recently, and staying up late making crafts to sell. When I’m tired, my Auditory Processing difficulties can be a problem. I smiled back at a guy of about my age passing my table and he said something to me. The only word I heard was “Joke”. When he said joke, I worried that because I was smiling, he thought I was laughing at him in some way. I said no, to reassure him, probably sounding horrified.

He held his hands up at me in a backing-off kind of way and said “Fair enough”.

Then he moved on to my neighbour, grinned and said “Hey, you want to hear a funny joke?”

I realized I’d got things completely muddled up and out of proportion.

I walked after him and apologized. “Sorry I didn’t mean to be rude, I didn’t hear you properly”. He said that’s okay, gave me a smile and a thumbs up.

Damage repaired, but my first interaction with someone at the market could have gone better.

The jewellery seller had some great advice for selling, which I suppose could also be applied to everyday life.

  • Get out from behind your table and engage people if they want to talk to you- don’t just hide back there
  • Don’t get in people’s faces too much. They want to decide to buy things in their own time. If you look like a trader who hassles people, they will avoid your stall
  • Presentation matters. If your stall seems interesting from a distance, potential buyers will come to look.
  • Small talk- get to know your customers
  • Be friendly

I sold more than before today, feeling like I could maybe just keep going with this wee business venture on Sundays when the stall rent is cheaper. Even if I don’t make much money, I like talking to the market traders.

Even more importantly, I learned a lot of new people skills today. Selling at a market, I have to spend seven or eight hours a day talking to people from all over the world. Today I even made use of some of the French and Spanish I learned at school, although my Spanish skills are very poor. So long as I make more than the table price, I’ll stick at this. Even if it’s not financially successful, I know I will learn a lot.

Wednesday 12th July

This morning I was helping my friend with the community garden project. Taking up turf, digging over, removing bulbs, then replacing the turf. On our way out of the garden two men sitting on a bench, drinking started talking to us. One of them said that he also liked to do gardening. The other man, whose bottle was emptier, said that he paid his way in society by walking around. He explained to us that he had a fear of work. “This is called Ergophobia”, he said. “You’ve learned something new today”. I also learned that there is such thing as a litre-capacity plastic bottle of cider. They wanted to take a picture with us, but we were suddenly very busy.

Sunday 18th May 2014

Something new in my life which I’ve just noticed is that I’m sending more texts. I’m talking to my friends more. After Movement and Learning Centre therapy I now have the energy to send texts and keep up a conversation. But perhaps the most recent change in myself is that when I receive a text, I can think of what to reply. Having conversations with other people, whether that’s through texts, emails, on the phone or face-to-face requires social skills, skills which can only be learned through practicing and experience of talking and interacting with other people.
Previously,(before Johansen IAS therapy) social confusion caused by my Auditory Processing Disorder, and the fear of talking to people in case I misheard, couldn’t understand, or was too overwhelmed by noise in the environment to think, made me reluctant to try to have conversations.
I’m maybe not quite up-to-scratch with the rest of my age group socially…..yet. But I suppose that practice makes perfect.
Got to go, someone just texted me!

Tuesday 14th February- Tea Party!

Today I went to a tea party in Edinburgh for my friend’s 20th birthday.

At my local station, the trains were cancelled. The replacement bus service went past every station, making my journey to longer and more winding than expected, but I made friends with the historian sitting next to me. Despite the background rumble of the bus engine, I hardly missed a word. Apparently light brown buildings in Glasgow are older than the ones made from red sandstone. I never knew that.

In case of more train-related issues, I got the bus to Edinburgh. By asking the passenger behind me about where to get off for Princes Street (we’re were on Princes Street at the time) and happy coincidence, I was the first person to arrive.

I met some really nice people, including my friend’s flat mates. The place we went to was really posh. Marble, paintings, staircases and everything. The waiter adapted gracefully to deal with ten excited students munching the sugar cubes and discussing what the names of different kinds of tea on the menu might mean. One of them bought the birthday girl a top hat to wear for the occasion.

It was great to see my friend, and make some new ones. They were all friendly, funny, kind people. I could hear everything going on, join in and they made me feel completely included. Sitting beside my friend, I could pick and choose between talking to her and nearby conversations.

They were talking about university psychology studies which people can take part in, and I said to my friend that I still hadn’t got money through the post yet for the questionnaire I did ages ago. Somehow, that became the main topic for a while. My friend told them that I have synaesthesia and she was gutted when her university had stolen me for research. Soon everyone was asking me what colours their names were. I was amazed. Not only was I equally involved in the conversation, they thought that I was interesting!

The afternoon tea was sandwiches and cakes on three-tier stands. The sandwiches were very dainty sandwiches. We had our own personal miniature pots of jam for our scones and hot water refills for the pretty tea pots. Those who ordered Gunpowder Tea had quite a lot of diluting refills.

I spent two hours chatting, eating and drinking peppermint tea, which is really nice. Stuffed with delicious cakes, sandwiches and a springy, brown jelly-like chocolate thing which would probably stick to the ceiling if you threw it, we speculated on our futures looking at the tea leaves on the bottom of our cups. Someone drew a smiley face in theirs with a spoon, which could be considered as cheating. One of them said that my leaves could be a rabbit, meaning spring, a new beginning and good changes in my life. I’m more than happy to go with that, and it sounds like it could be pretty accurate. I feel like I have a whole new life. I’ve wanted to be able to talk to other people, have fun, and make new friends since as long as I can remember. I used to look at happy, laughing groups of kids and think, “How do they do it”? Now, along with my clearer hearing, basic social skills are starting to come naturally to me. And dare I say it, I think I might be a people person.

On the bus home, I felt almost like it had been a dream. The best kind of dream. But the empty miniature jam jar in my backpack proved that it had really happened.