Other people

I am really really bad at interacting with other people. I’m actually pretty good at professional interaction. I think it’s because there’s a ready-made reason to be interacting (I’m told that this need for reasons to interact is a typical trait of an introvert).

Temples, on the other hand, totally aren’t the same situation. I know that people are friendly and accepting. I’ve experienced this firsthand. However, I am really really bad at small talk and at interacting with people I don’t know very well. Add to this the overwhelming sensation of being really creepy (will they know I’m really interested in India and be put off by it? what if they think I’m a crazy person? should I wear a sari or would that be even weirder?), and you get a Hindu who has a difficult time practicing her religion anywhere outside her own house.

This weekend I had multiple opportunities to visit the temple, and did not take any of them. I feel a little guilty about that. I meditated a lot on it.

I still have no idea how to get past this. Mostly I have a really hard time going by myself, and so am tied (metaphorically speaking) to other people and their schedules. Which is to say that I am my own problem, since I could go whenever I wanted, without anyone’s company. I know that when I do eventually get to that point, I will be very proud of myself.

I  need to take the advice I’ve been given: Relax.

And if you are planning on going, Anglo Hindu has posted a great guide for how to prepare yourself in advance, and what to do when you get there:

Visiting a Hindu Temple



About HappyGoth

By day, I'm a graphic designer. By night, I'm a knitter. I'm doing my part to keep Hotlanta stylish. I imagine that if you don't already understand the title of the blog, you're probably confused and perhaps slightly annoyed, but never fear - I do have a reason (and it's a good one). Having gone to hear Stephanie Pearl McPhee, and then having been inspired to blog about knitting, I found myself wondering what to call the blog. I recalled a conversation I had with Mouse and the Chicken Goddess about why it is a Bad Idea to anger knitters - this conversation was following SPM, aka the Yarn Harlot telling the assembled throng about Those Who Do Not Understand Knitting and Therefore Belittle It Much to the Chagrin of Others, or TWDNUKTBMCO, which is not the acronym she used but is the one I'm using because I forgot hers - that is, we are numerous and we all have very pointy sticks, easily transforming into an angry mob. Therefore, knitters = angry mob.
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13 Responses to Other people

  1. Sarojini says:

    I am the same exact way, and TOTALLY aware of it! Probably to the point I start becomming paranoid, lol. I hate small talk and am completely clueless as to how to start a conversation with someone I don’t know….
    My social anxiety is what stopped me from going to a temple for two years. >.<

    • HappyGoth says:

      In a perverse sort of way, knowing that other folks go through this is so comforting. Thanks for sharing!

      If you don’t mind my asking, how did you manage to overcome your shyness and get to temple?

      • Sarojini says:

        It was because I had put it off for two years. I had told myself I was going to visit temple and yet, it never happened. I didn’t want to waste another two years of my life just hoping and dreaming about it. Besides, I started to feel spiritually disconnected and lost. It was time to just bite the bullet and go.

        I know it’s easier said then done but, you’ve just gotta smack yourself and proceed foward! 😛

  2. surya says:

    Hi AH
    Do it in steps. First buy one decent typical Indian dress (no not saree) and wear it along with a bindi (dot) at home for a few hours sporadically for a few days, say for one week. Now your appearance and presentation part is taken care of, now you are comfortable with how you look.

    Then after a week or so on some evening put on the hindu attire drive all the way to one temple, park and don’t get out your car for a few minutes. Try to wave but most probably no one notices you, don’t feel slighted, if someone does stare at you its out of innocent curiosity, not that you are strange or they are rude. After all this is America and you are the norm!!
    Then get out and stay close to your car and see if any one glances at you, watch people discreetly but be ready to smile. There will be some smiles ‘cause here is a white woman in typical hindu presentation, its welcoming sign. If they are close enough ask them what time the mandir (temple) closes. No. Dont try to go in yet. If you are not bold enough return home or go somewhere else. Make a couple of trips this way in one week’s duration.

    The key is to remain close to your familiar surroundings, in this case your car. Get out stand though for a few minutes. You will see kids speaking typical American, you get more comfortable, and you are not in a foreign land! You reassure yourself you don’t get inside first trip. Second trip, repeat same as first, but then take a few steps away from your car get closer to the mandir but return to car if you are overwhelmed. Next time try to go to the steps and return to your car. If a middle aged man or woman is curious then ask if he or she can take you in, younger ones wont mind but you may not be comfortable with them. Honestly it is much easier with younger people with accent part and all. You have already made a clear statement with your attire especially with bindi part. Thats a weak spot for all hindus, I mean the dot on forehead. It commands respect immediately.

    It is the people you are worried about, not the mandir or the deities which provide the much needed all consuming calming effect. The conduct of hindus inside the mandir is more or less similar to that you see in a church. People converse freely, walk around uninhibited. The carpeted hall remains empty, I mean no chairs typically you see in a church. You don’t have to do anything. In fact you can just turn around and walk out in 2 minutes, no one will care. Would anyone care tomorrow if I walk into a church and quietly walk out in 2 minutes? Even right in the middle of a sermon? No. Is there a lot for me to ‘do’ in a church attending a Sunday sermon, not much. New ones follow others mostly in the beginning. So same is the case in case of a hindu mandir.
    This is a practical way. No one ever try to question you or anything like that, if someone does talk to you then ask them to help you getting in. They will be more than happy to do so. Iam sure this will work. The biggest risk in life is not taking one.
    Didnt expect it to be so long a post.

    • HappyGoth says:

      It’s okay that you made a long post! There’s a lot of useful information in there. I think I’ve already got step 1 down. Perhaps it is time to move on to step 2 (or past that; I’ve been to temple with people before, and now I need to go on my own).

      I like that you mention the coming and going part; in the tradition I was raised in (a Christian one), coming and going was a little disruptive, so I wasn’t sure how to handle it, but I am more confident now that you say it isn’t as much of a problem. It’s so useful to have the perspective of someone who is comfortable and experienced to temper my totally uncomfortable and inexperienced brain.

      I think this is like how it was when I first started shopping at saree shops; I was very uncomfortable at first, but am now totally okay with it. It will get better, as long as I keep working at it!

      Thanks for the advice!

  3. Kodanda says:

    Same way as well, I can’t stand to be in a room with more than 5 people unless I know them but yet I used to perform and DJ Industrial music with no problems and got quite used to it, but as soon as the doors closed and the after party began, I had to get out of there.

    I am surprised to find people offer small talk. I have yet been approached and talked to, perhaps because I look scary 😀

    • HappyGoth says:

      Hee. (I totally get the club full of people thing; you can be surrounded but totally anonymous, dance your stompy boots off, go home, and feel just fine for it.) Nobody has offered small talk yet, but somehow I feel it’s expected. I know it totally isn’t, but that discomfort is there. I’ll get over it eventually, I imagine.

  4. Kodanda says:

    @Surya, Great advice. You’re in Chicago right? I might be moving near there in the next month or two for work.

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