I'm an Australian woman in my mid-30s. Because of my physical disabilities and health problems I am not able to work at the moment.
(My health issues make me exhausted and sometimes mentally 'foggy', but I am not intellectually handicapped. I have a bachelor's degree with first-class honours, and I used to work full-time in a very intellectually demanding job before I got sick.)
Fourteen days might go by between [me talking to someone who isn't my boyfriend or a Dr/pharmacist/shop assistant] and [the next time that I talk to someone who isn't my boyfriend or a Dr/pharmacist/shop assistant.]
In the meantime, my social skills get quite rusty. I shower and wash my hair daily, I dress in interesting and flattering clothes, I never mention a single word about my health issues, but people still seem to sense something 'off' about me.
In an effort to meet new people, I go along to Meetup.com style events, and I find it overwhelming.
There is often so much background noise, which makes it really hard for me to hear (I'm hard of hearing. Yes, I will be getting a hearing aid very soon.)
People expect such a quick verbal response to their questions, and get frustrated if my response isn't instantaneous (my health problems cause physical and mental exhaustion, and mental 'fog' - think about what you feel like when you have the flu or a sinus infection - that is what I feel like 80% of the time.)
Sometimes I can't think of the word for something straightaway, and use 'widget' and 'thingummy' which people think is weird/funny/makes them uncomfortable.
Often people seem really unfriendly and uninterested in talking to me, even when I briefly introduce myself, ask their name, and ask friendly questions about them and their interests/recent activities.
Sometimes people seem very uncomfortable about the mobility aid that I use
Often, the whole experience leaves me feeling really disappointed, frustrated, and sad, and wondering why I bother.
But I would like to expand my social network, so I keep trying... how can I get better at talking to new people?
Throw-away email: email@example.com