Thursday, April 05, 2007

Comments on Chemistry

Well, my post on personal chemistry a few weeks back generated more responses than anything else I've done in a while, in the form of comments, IMs, and emails. And the other day, while I was working on a companion post about group dynamics, I received another email on the topic, this time from my former co-worker iamam. Her thoughts struck a chord with me, so I asked her if I could share them with the rest of you blog monkeys:

I, too, am void of instant friendships. However, I have on more than one occasion suddenly realized that someone else considers me a friend, and the reason I say, "suddenly realized" is because up until that moment that said friend did something that solidified friendship to me, I didn't think that we knew each other well enough to be considered friends. It would be something like someone confiding in me or calling me at home or asking me if I want to go to a movie, and then I just think, "Hey, she thinks we're friends!"

I think that the people who feel instant chemistry are the people who are people people. They view EACH person they meet as a possible new friend, and act accordingly. So, when two people persons meet, then you have those instant friendships. I'm more of a "proceed with caution" kind of girl. It's possible, though, that the friends I have who are people people thought that they hit it off with me a lot more than I did, because I was too busy assessing.

I find this interesting in a couple of different ways. First of all, iamam and I worked at the same library for probably close to 2 years before we really spoke to each other about anything other than work, let alone became friends. A lot of it had to do with the back that we were both "proceed with caution" type of people, and instead of recognizing that similarity, we both saw the other as being standoffish or stuck-up; she thought I was a bible-thumping prude, and I just thought she hated my guts, impressions we both formed without having a full-length conversation with each other. It wasn't until I transferred into the ILL position and actually worked in the same office with her that we realized that we were more similar than we had imagined. In the days before blogging, back when I still bottled most of my paranoia up, she was one of the two people I felt comfortable talking to about my neurotic life, primarily because she was one of the first people I had ever met who seemed to understand exactly where I was coming from.

Another thought her email sparked was the idea of those moments where you suddenly realize that someone has graduated from "acquaintance" to "friend"; I know I've experienced my fair share of "Wait, so-and-so actually likes me?" moments over the years. The most vivid one in my mind was my Senior year of high school, when I finally got it pounded into my head that the members of the youth group at my new church actually wanted me around; I also remember having a bit of an "hey, they like me, they really like me!" epiphany when J.D. (another co-worker of iamam and myself) started inviting me to hang out with him and his wife.

The idea of those instant connections being related to how much of a "people person" you are also struck me: I have wondered how common the "wait, he/she actually likes me?" thing is among the overall population, and how much of it is just a result of my neurotic refusal to acknowledge that people would actually want to hang out with me. Yes, I know I have a lot of friends which should put such thinking to the lie, but deep down I find that I still don't expect people to "click" with me due to my peronsal quirks, which leads me to hold back a bit, which keeps me from fully engaging, which can lead to some shock down the road when they see my personality in full effect. Which is straying from the topic a bit, but I'm suffering from little sleep and don't really care right now. Which is probably a good sign that I should stop typing and just post this. So, yeah, that's what I'm going to do.

Is it the weekend yet?