Mental Health & Wellbeing Matters: boo to a goose

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A few thoughts on the expectation that we can all be dropped in a crowd and be able to have a conversation, in our latest mental health piece.

Hello! This is the bit of the Film Stories site where we chat about things that may be affecting you or people around you. We cover mental, wellbeing, and anything else we feel fits really. Not everything we cover is going to be of use to everyone, and our aim is that over the course of these articles, we come up with something that’s a bit of use to you.

This week, the pressure to be able to instantly drop into company, be able to find your feet. And the old idea that some people wouldn’t say a metaphorical boo to a metaphorical goose. Or a real goose. Who knows.

Most of us, as we get older, begin to appreciate that some people are extroverted and some are introverted. In fact, we tend to get told that. But I think there’s more nuance to it than that. I think even the most extroverted people find themselves in situations where they retreat into their shell. Conversely, just because someone doesn’t usually speak out, that doesn’t mean that’s not always the case. Cliches and generalisations do love putting us in our place, and being surprised when we don’t exactly fit.

From my own experience – as someone who used to be called the door mouse in their first job – I fluctuate, and struggle to balance the expectation of it. On the one hand, I can stand in front of a room and talk (never used to be able to do that). On the other, there are situations where I can barely get a word out.

There’s an expectation though that you’re either one or the other, and that you’re not allowed to cross the metaphorical streams. And woe betide you if you’re so uncomfortable and anxious talking to people you don’t know that you struggle to get a word out, and just want to go home. Heck, even if a few people do get together and start chatting, they find themselves labelled as a clique. They might just be clinging on. Who knows.

Yet it’s all unrealistic, and who actually wins?

What’s actually wrong with not being able to converse easily with others? What’s the problem with having a bad day? And so what if someone feels they don’t want to raise their voice and have their say? As long as the environment is there where they can, without fear of ridicule or being punched down on.

This piece, perhaps more than most in this series, presents a series of problems and scattergun thoughts rather than a coherent answer. But it does feel like one of those areas where acknowledging the problem is a pretty good start.

Thanks, as always, for reading. This column will return next week.

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