I have nothing in common with my family. How do I handle myself at big family gatherings?
I love my family to death and I know that they have nothing but support for me. But I have nothing to talk about with them aside from small talk – “how is school?” (I’m a sophomore in college), “what are you majoring in?” (I don’t know yet) and “do you know what you want to do after college?” (I do not). It has become quite patronizing after being asked repeatedly.
Aside from that, conversation among my uncles and male cousins (ages 30–60 years old) are limited to sports and business (finance). Female cousins and aunts talk about home furnishing and gossip about family friends. I know nothing about either of these topics, so when my entire family gets together for something like say, easter, I really don’t have much to say the entire time. Usually whenever I try to add to the conversation I get cut off by someone louder and more gregarious halfway through my first word (I know other people have experienced this on occasion, it is quite annoying), so on top of being very introverted, this has reinforced me to just not say much around my family, so instead I’ll sit and smile silently on the sidelines and appreciate being around everyone.
Here is the problem: afterwards, my mother will yell at me for being “antisocial”. She’ll tell me that by not talking and “sitting around not contributing” makes me look like a negative person. But the fact is, being around my family all at once gives me a lot of anxiety because I can’t think of anything to say anymore. I am more into the arts – foreign film, world music, etc – but my family is not interested in discussing those things. We are mostly a “sports” family and I never really got into sports.
Is my mom right? Is my behavior appropriate or is not saying much around my family reflecting badly on me? How can I better handle myself at gatherings?
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