AskAlex #46

Something light-hearted and perhaps a little comical this week. I don’t feel like I do enough of this but here I am, treating you to some cheer!

What is your “They’re probably crazy” red flag?

As a sufferer of anxiety, particularly social anxiety, “that person is crazy” is a regular thought that goes through my head when I’m out and about. However, I am aware that because of my anxiety, my red flags would possibly just be totally overlooked by someone who is comfortable in the company of strangers, so I am bearing that in mind while I write this post i.e. you’re probably not as crazy as me!

For me, living in London where everyone is incredibly self-absorbed in their own lives, if a stranger talks to me about any other topic other than directions or what the time is, then I get a bit edgy. I know that to those who live in small communities or maybe even just outside of London that probably sounds mental and maybe even fascinating at the same time but in big cities, particularly London apparently, this is just the culture.

Londoners aren’t comfortable conversing with people we don’t know. Small talk is fine to a degree. If you have a question that we might know the answer to, for example, “How do I get to Oxford Street?” we can tell you but we would then politely expect and appreciate that you then leave us alone. As a Londoner, I’ve adopted many approaches in order to appear occupied and give off a “don’t-talk-to-me-please” vibe -earphones up loud, looking way more engrossed in a book or magazine than is actually humanly possible and even pretending to be asleep- but alas, those who are seemingly unaware of the unspoken no talking rule will still find a way to bother me.

On the tube and at train stations, I’ve had experiences that I’ve been so incredibly uncomfortable in that I’ve had panic attacks. Sadly and admittedly, they have all been to do with interactions with strangers. A few years ago, I was travelling up to Essex to spend time with my boyfriend and despite my earphones being firmly in whilst on the tube, the guy in the seat next to me still felt it appropriate to talk to me about what I was listening to and where I was going. When I nervously told him both of these things, he continued into a conversation about himself and how he wanted to be a millionaire by the time he was 30. Stuff I, nor any other stranger, cares about. I neither have nor want anything to do with this guy and he begins to tell me all about himself and his dreams. As a stereotypical Londoner, to me this certainly raises the crazy alarm to me.

More recently, I was asked for my phone number within the first minute of meeting another guy. What kind of person does that? Quite clearly, a weirdo to say the least. Needless to say, I didn’t give him my number but escaped unscathed after much panicking and fear of what he might do to me once he’d realised that I was rejecting him. Even now, the thought of a stranger having my phone number or e-mail address scares me to death. I don’t want or need any more friends, thank you particularly if you’re going to terrify me in our very first five minutes together. Leave me alone!

See, that’s the thing with me. I can’t just say no. If I don’t want to do something, I have to come up with a drastic or ridiculous excuse not to do it. Maybe that makes me one of the craziest people out there. I’ll let you be the judge of that!


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