I’ve just moved from Leicester to Aberystwyth. From a city to a town. From a population of 294,700 to a population of 15,935. Roughly speaking and depending on who you ask.

I don’t actually have any friends in Aberystwyth as yet, but I know plenty of people already because I’ve been to Mind every week since I moved more or less for lunch and a chat and much tea. So I know faces and names. And I see people on the streets of this small town most days I’m out (being somewhat social phobic/anxious I’m not always out a lot but still) and I find it quite surreal.

In Leicester I had friends and knew dozens of people. Worked with dozens and dozens of people and was in the city centre most days for one reason or another over the last year especially. I could go six months in Leicester and not see a single person I know, not a single face I vaguely recognise. Once a week I see someone I recognise here in Aberystwyth and it boggles my brain a little.

And the fact that it boggles my brain is a bit silly, because I used to live here, in this area, and did so for almost ten years. In the village near our house you bumped into someone you knew everyday, on the bus to school you had friends, when you went into town, either of the Abers (Aberystwyth or Aberaeron) you’d see someone you knew from school.

Almost ten years and I seem to have forgotten this way of life, seem to have forgotten how many people there are around me, that aren’t faceless, nameless, soulless (that’s a bit extreme but still a valid point). It doesn’t help that I didn’t go out much when I was living in Leicester, not if I could help it. Social phobia my doctor called it, whatever, I still suffer from great anxiety sometimes when it comes to leaving the flat, or my comfort zone (which extends to the local spar). I try however to keep going out, though the fact that I recognise the odd person about doesn’t really give me much incentive, as much as I like the idea of it all, I like anonymity too. I like to be hidden, a hermit, it just happens to be very bad for my mental health.

I’m also shit at small talk. Or I think I am. If I don’t know someone very well, I’m not really much of a conversationalist. Unless I’ve had a bit to drink. And I hate having to force out the usual crap about the weather, celebrities and whatever. The international languages. Weather, celebrities, football.

I just realised I don’t really know where I’m going with all this. I don’t really know how I feel about. It’s nice, not everything around me is so empty any more. Leicester was like that so often, an empty push and pull of people everywhere. But it comes with risks of conversation, small talk, hell, just risks of social interaction, and I know hermitage it bad for me, but sometimes, I love it so. Only sometimes mind, other times it tears me apart, to be alone. To just be me and She-Ra: Hamster Of Power.

Today, is actually neither of those days. I’ve no interested in being to social butterfly, but I’m not lonely either. I’m just okay. I’m okay a lot of the time these days, and okay, is much better than not good, not well, not anything at all.

One thought to “From Soulless City to Aberystwyth”

  • Moominboy

    Hey, I haven't noticed any problems with small talk when we met :)I can imagine it's different. I only lived in Warsaw and Stockholm, both 1M+ cities. This makes me perceive people as "People", a giant moving mass of meat that I have to wade through on my way to work and back. It's a collective, a force of nature. It gives me anonymity, though, and that's why I put up with it. A small community… I dunno. I don't think I would be very comfortable.I don't mind a hermit hut in the woods, though, with no people at all. So I guess it's' the social interactions and obligations that I don't like.


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