helen-louise (baratron) wrote,

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Socialising with scientists.

I am going to a meeting at another university tomorrow. As a result, I am now pretty much paralysed by anxiety. It doesn't help that I couldn't sleep last night and crawled out of bed today with dark circles round my eyes like a panda. Had some very interesting thoughts about my inability to get to sleep, which I should write down at some point - but I could have done without having them at 5 am!

I just wrote the following load of witter in an email to Philip. It fairly accurately sums up how I'm feeling:

> I'm happy to get the 11:05 from Waterloo, if you would still prefer that.

Right now I'm thinking I'd *prefer* spending the day in bed - my sleep patterns are beyond messed up and I'm extremely anxious. But I have to start going to meetings with other scientists soon - total avoidance isn't a good strategy long term, and the sooner I start the sooner it'll get easier. Maybe. People Are Scary.

One of the things I've found weird is that when people find out you're a student, they automatically ask what you're working on and expect some sort of detailed answer. Given that I've only just started and don't really know any details yet, I'd be so much happier to talk about what THEY're working on. I think it's some sort of misguided attempt to avoid scaring me with their great knowledge, but I find it more intimidating than friendly. It's probably some sort of clash between my own poor social skills and other scientists' poor social skills.

There should be classes on interpreting body language and other interpersonal skills as a compulsory part of science degrees. Especially at nerd-havens like Imperial. Put me in a room full of geeks with the same social expectations, and I get on just fine. Put me in a room full of people who have been normally-socialised, and I don't even know where to start (#). It gets even more complicated when you *don't know* whether the person you're talking to has Geek or Normal social skills! And then the incredibly difficult mixture of people on the autistic spectrum plus people with high social anxiety plus people with no autistic traits or social anxiety who have no idea what it's like to have them.

(#) I avoid my family as much as possible for this reason, with the exception of my mum, who is as much of a geek as it's possible to be having grown up in the time when Girls Didn't Do Science and having had no formal education since the age of 14. Richard's family, however, are all scientists or engineers, so I can talk to them about things that *I* consider usual topics for conversation rather than the weather, That Television Programme or That Sports Team.

> I might need to do some other bits of work on the train, after we have done our formal meeting chat.

Well, yeah - I wasn't exactly expecting that we'd sit and chat about the weather or That Sports Team for an hour and half :) I may bring my laptop, haven't decided yet. Not feeling sufficiently brain-ful to make a decision about *anything*. I'm anticipating half an hour of panic in front of my bedroom mirror later on tonight while I try on every item of clothing I own that is even vaguely acceptable for the occasion. You might wonder why I'd bother, given that most scientists have the approach to clothes that anything is okay as long as it covers up the parts that should be covered in public and is not actively smelly. (That's the attitude I go with at college). But if you're female in a room full of strangers, people *do* notice what you're wearing and judge you on it. The few other female scientists there are THE WORST for this! (Ask $your_girlfriend, I'm sure she'll agree). So I need to try to find something that makes me feel comfortable and confident, but also has pockets.

I witter when I'm anxious,

Also, I feel sick. And I'm supposed to get some work done tonight to bring with me tomorrow!
Tags: anxiety, not a morning person, research

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