Beautiful conversational soup

Will you, won't you, won't you join the potage dance?

I read a fascinating blog post the other day, by the wonderfully named Mummy In A Tutu, entitled Not Good Enough For Your Clique.

For such a short post, Katie covered a lot of ground and, I am sure, stirred up feelings we can all relate to.

There were the age-old anxieties and worries around fitting in, thoughts on social exclusion, and anger at those who would deliberately keep us out, or at least not make us feel welcome.

And she captured just how damn hard it can be to mix with other people, especially in a new group.

Of any age. At any age.

Especially if they seem downright rude.

More particularly, Katie talked about her experiences recently when she began accompanying her little girl to the ballet class her daughter had joined.

With one or two exceptions, she felt herself to be largely ignored by the other mums there, who chatted among themselves.

She felt segregated by these people, her fellow women and mothers, whom she felt had formed a clique.

Now I could relate to what she was saying. And feeling.

But I also had reservations about merely blaming the group, and wondering about the part we play ourselves in social situations.

Now, I am taking Katie’s post as a jumping-off point: I really have no idea whether the women she was talking about were, in fact, a coven of thundering bitches, or whether she could have tried a little harder.

No idea.

But it made me think about this whole business of not fitting in.

And whose fault is it anyway!

I am Irish, and you might be familiar with the stereotype of us as one big unruly crowd of laughing, fighting – at the same time — freckle-faced charmers, full of the craic and Guinness, and bursting with conversational bonhomie.

A great bunch of lads, as Father Ted would put it.

All our wars are merry and our songs are sad … and all that kiss-the-blarney-stone, kiss-my-arse … well, blarney!

Some Irish people are like that, and loads of us aren’t. Not remotely.

We’re all sorts, like people everywhere

And it can be as hard or as easy to fit in here as anywhere else.

I have this image of people gathered around a big conversational soup pot.

And this is kind of how our society works:

You’re there, standing around the pot with other people.

You want some soup, you find a space, and you just dip in.

If you’re with people you know, you’ll exchange pleasantries as you drink your soup.

Or pointedly ignore the one you don’t like. And they you.

Plenty of others there.

Maybe you will join in the larger group conversation as you dine.

Or maybe you’re new to the parish, so what do you do?

Do you stand back and wait to be asked to dip in? Or, if you’re easy enough in yourself,  just get out your spoon and work away.

Some will stand back and wait to be served. Hungry but too polite or wary of the other diners.

These get neither soup nor conversation.

They might not care, or they are a seething cauldron of unspoken resentment and anxiety.

Now some people don’t give a hoot either way, they just pile in there, dip away and dominate the situation, or at least try.

They’re loud and they’re proud.

A pain in the ass for some, the best of fun for others. They might be dominating the conversation, but at least there is a conversation.

It’s tough, sometimes, but maybe some people should just get over themselves and see a gap, or opportunity, and just go for it. Have a nice slice of bread while they are at it.

There’s soup enough for everybody

Now it might be hard for some to accept, but society does seem to be like that: you have to put out, join the conversation. Take the plunge — without of course soaking those too close by.

If the people nearest you are rude and excluding, say so, if you must, or move around to join another side gathering.

I always remember actor Gabriel Byrne and a radio interview he did years ago talking about his early days, before he became famous.

Now early in his career, Byrne had a great line in brooding, troubled anti-heroes, who of course had the women falling over themselves to de-brood him, if you like.

But here he was describing one of those parties in grotty student basements many of us of a certain age will recall, as far too many people staggered in after the pubs had shut, and crowded around a few six-packs, with the avalanches of ash falling down the mountainsides of overladen ashtrays.

Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan on the record player if it was a lads flat  … enough!

Anyway, Byrne was asked, would he be there, brooding away in the corner, and the prettiest girls would soon be swooning at his feet, drawn in by his smouldering charisma?

He snorted with laughter: “Are you joking? I was just left there to brood.”

This is real life, not Hollywood, baby!

If you don’t dip in, you don’t get any soup. And you won’t be heard.

Saying no-one cares about you, or wants to hear what you have to say, is probably beside the point

They might do. They might not. Some will. Some won’t.

That’s just kind of how it is.

If you can’t accept that, and expect things to change, or torment yourself over it, we are talking anxiety and neurosis. Possibly worse.

Yes, the loud, confident voices are the ones you hear at first, and it can be hard to admit it, or you might resent them for it, but they can be funny and engaging.

But often, as things really get going, you will find yourself drifting away, and maybe you will catch a reflective, or vivacious voice, whatever it is that really draws you, and you will approach that person or sub-group.

It can depend on your mood too, I guess; sometimes loud, silly and raucous is what you want, other times you want a quick chat, a little bit of soup, and you’re off.

Or maybe you are a little brittle, and need a calming, nourishing experience.

Some beautiful soup.

Which you might or might not get at this particular tureen.

But there will be other times, other gatherings, other conversations.

It’s not always your fault.

Or theirs.

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About endardoo

A newspaper sub-editor for many years, I am now a blogger and freelance sub-editor. Husband of one and house daddy of two: a feisty and dramatic 17-year-old girl and a bright, resilient football nut of a boy aged 16. My website:

65 comments on “Beautiful conversational soup

  1. Oh right, I see myself there, waiting around for everyone to have their soup, watching, listening and then deciding if I dare speak to anyone or if indeed I want to speak to anyone. The soup is generally cold by the time I get there. Or maybe there is a person there who was first to the pot and grabbed their bowl of soup and after getting the cold shoulder from everyone else they’ve spotted me on the side line and decided to attach themselves to me, not giving me the chance to try any soup for myself.
    Often I’ve found myself avoiding a group because I felt they wouldn’t accept anyone new, only to find the most wonderful friendly people in that group at a later time. It’s all about dipping your bread in the soup I guess. All this talk of soup has made me feel hungry all of a sudden.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dynamic Dad

    I think we’ve all been there – sometimes getting involved and other times not. I feel the same at school for drop-off and pick-up, I tend not to engage with the mothers. I worry they’ll feel harassed or that I’m interfering simply because I’m a man. Other times, if I see an opportunity to interject with something witty, or I have a strong opinion, I’ll speak up. Sometimes I get the ‘go for it’ feeling, other times I just stand back and watch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And what’s the worst that can happen if you venture in there, in good faith, with good intention, and you still feel rejected? Well, it’s on them, I believe, and nothing lost on your part. Thanks for your insightful observations


  3. Enda — Have I told you how much I enjoy your posts?! Not only are they always relatable, a topic that I’m interested in – but your writing is always poetic and compelling!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Clever! (and I find the clique-y-ness in adults so weird) #GlobalBlogging

    Liked by 1 person

  5. diynige

    This has so resonated with me I feel like you have written about me. I never been good at fitting in round peg into a square hole that’s my life. I used to think and on occasions still think it is me. When I’m out of my comfort zone I become painfully shy. Blogging became my saviour where I felt for the very first time in my life I fitted strange I know. I think you may have inspired a post from me. Awesome read as always mate #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s no coincidence that people who are shy might get something profound from blogging. Can’t wait to read that post! Thanks Nige

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A very good read. I make what I call un repeatable soup which is odd ingredients assembled randomly, it can be good, sometimes terrific, but like a party you expect to be great with all the right things in place, can fall flat!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Such an excellent analogy. As always a really well observed post! #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I remember distinctly in the 6th grade when my “friends” decided I wasn’t welcome in the group I had been a part of since Kindergarten. That is the exact moment that I started waiting to be served the soup instead of jumping in there.

    I am 46 years old and I remember that like it was yesterday. It still causes me to feel like I am not good enough to participate in a situation where I am new to the group. Crazy huh?


    Liked by 1 person

    • Really sorry it has affected you so. I think, however, that growing into adulthood we arrive at a place where we can render unto the group what is the group’s, and render onto ourselves what is ours. In other words, if they are not a nice group, it’s not OUR fault. If it is something we did or said, then that IS our responsibility. If your group was that mean, then I am afraid you were with the wrong gang. They ultimately did you a favour! Thanks so much for reading and commenting and good luck with your efforts to get to the bottom of your migraine trauma

      Liked by 1 person

    • Had a similar experience and all these years later, it still bugs me. Funny though, I met one of them recently and asked her why they had done this and she’d no recollection of it happening at all. Mad.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Sigrid Chu

    Hello Enda,

    This is something I used to worry about a lot. But one of the blessings of getting oldER for me is that I can now control my reaction to such situations. And usually, my reaction is dependent on my mood. But I still decide what to do (whether to join in or party on my own) and I accept that decision and live with it.

    Thank you for this wonderful post.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sigrid. I do think that us huge: reaching that point where we are not devastated by rejection by a group or individual, or even open to it. Thanks for your insight.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Totally agree that Kate’s original post is very thought provoking #blogginggoodtime@_karendennis

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a great piece. And oh so true. I found myself at an event yesterday where a few other people couldn’t mutter anything to me other than answering my “Hello”, and yet both messaged me full of chat last night… I thought it was a bit sad. Conversation is so important.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Maria. I agree totally conversation is so important … but just as important is including others in the conversation, and where it us required, to put yourself out there to join in

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The soup pot is the perfect analogy. I am not quite sure how I fit in. sometimes I can be loud and boisterous, dipping my spoon right in, sure that everyone around me wants to hear my stories and talk to me, and sometimes I am shyer. I hang back, hesitant to get any soup or conversation for fear of offending someone. It all depends on the makeup of the group and my own mood of the day. I think most bloggers are easy to communicate with, for some reason. Maybe because we all have something in common that we care about.

    Hope your son is doing well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would be broadly similar. Some groui do seem friendlier than others. I agree also about fellow bloggers, whom I have found to be nothing but supportive

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I am an outsider and don’t fit in with the mummy crowd. It is horrible to feel left out but I just look at for others who are similar and don’t feel so alone X #ablogginggoodtim

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I adore this post. Oh and I love your strapline too – first time I noticed it. I have always had such anxiety about fitting in always thinking people hated or disliked me as my default position even with strangers. I can see why I may struggle – insecurity from being adopted, having older parents, going from working-class kid to posh university and a million other reasons which as we grow we learn may or may not apply as you say. Maybe some things just are and maybe our minds, thoughts and feelings get it wrong a zillion times a day. And maybe that’s OK or to use your analogy makes a very tasty soup with bits in. I wrote a post years ago about a clique of mums at school and not fitting in something like why am I always the outsider? I think I called it. And comments on it proved that outsiders and insiders in that so many of us struggle socially at least sometimes. I have moved to France recently and it is so much easier to fit in here language barriers and all. There is no concept of people having their own space as in English pubs – here people sit where there is space, greet you and start a conversation. It has been super healing for me. Sorry, babbled on way too much as ever but lovely post that will help people and done in a gorgeous creative way as ever. #BlogCrush

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whoever said it was easy!! I am kind of going along figuring it out still and putting some observations out. I was thinking really about the fact that sometimes, yes, some people are damn unfriendly but sometimes people expect people to read their insecurity and put out a kind of welcome mat, and that is not going to happen! Somewhere along the way we have to chance positivity and take rejection as, however shitty, just a fact of life and let it go. Win some, lose some kind of! Glad to see you are enjoying France. I spent two years there many moons ago and got on fine


  15. Reblogged this on HERDING CATS and commented:
    A great read

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I loved Katie’s article and this is a great followup. I love talking to people from different places and cultures.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Popping back from another linky #satsesh@_karendennis

    Liked by 1 person

  18. So true. But sometimes taking the plunge and dipping in is really intimidating. Even me, not known or considered to be shy can feel uncomfortable in a crowd of strangers. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I am shy/an introvert so dread social situations such as the school playground or blogging meet ups but when I make the effort it is usually ok! Just takes a bit of bravery and a smile and someone will chat back. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you are so right, I would be on the shy/introvert scale too … but much more extroverted when I feel the group are ok, or I have done my bit, and they still aren’t friendly?, then the trouble is with them!!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts


  20. aliduke79hotmailcom

    I really enjoyed this. I am always quiet when I meet new people, I tend to just stand on the side lines and watch and listen until I feel comfortable enough to actually join in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Ali, thanks for taking the time to comment. I think that’s what most of us do! Some groups are easier to crack than others, though, aren’t they?


  21. diynige

    Thanks for joining Enda Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I lack in confidence so I find it hard to make new friends, I also get intimidated when there is a clique around – so not necessarily their fault, but mine for being a thirty-something scaredy-cat – if everyone is warmer and more approachable we can all make situations a bit easier perhaps?
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lianne … I didn’t mean to make it sound judgemental, about the natural anxieties involved in joining new groups … I do think both are true: sometimes we have to make an effort, but also, people could, and should, make it easier for new people. A little empathy never goes astray! Thanks for commenting


  23. I’m one of those people who will go to the pot because I love food and will eat the soup. If people talk to me then fine. If not, I’ll go my own way. I’m more introverted these days though so I’d rather have the soup than the conversation lol! #GlobalBlogging

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I love this analogy and I think we can all identify ourselves there somewhere. Thanks as always for being part of our #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Dave - Dad's Turn

    Didn’t get these feelings in London as I fear I was quite cliquey with the mums in our NCT group there, but just moved to Stockholm and am expecting to feel very much on the outside. Wish me luck and soup! #satsesh

    Liked by 1 person

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  27. I also read Katie’s post last week Enda and really felt for her. I’m fairly introverted and the way I react to other people varies a lot with my moods. Sometimes I’ll actively seek out interaction but a lot of the time I’ll go to great lengths to avoid it. We are certainly all different! Thanks for sharing at #TweensTeensBeyond


  28. We sure are,Sharon. Just as well!! Thanks for commenting.


  29. #thesatsesh Im super confident but hate dominance as a result I’m allergic to humans. I just prefer dogs…haha, i hate the cliques you get at any social event (especially whilst you all stand around and look at your children). Im lucky that i don’t do the school run, my opinion would probably cause issues on the playground.
    I go out of my way to avoid ‘chit chat’, I wonder how that comes across to others?

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Pingback: Bloggers #DreamTeam Linky 130 - Navigating Baby

  31. mackenzieglanville

    I love your thought process, in general, and in this post! You truly do think outside that box. There are groups that have no intention of welcoming new members for sure and women can be dam bitches. It really baffles me how so many women do not stand up for other women. But then there are so many amazing women who make me proud to be a women myself! I’ve been fairly lucky I have always had a great group of friends, I still hang out with women that I went to school with, and then I have my uni friends, and those I will call my school mum friends. I only ever encountered feeling isolated when we moved interstate for a few months and I was around 9, no one played with me or spoke to me and so I talked to myself (I had a great imagination and the trees quickly welcomed me into their group). But it affected me deeply, and made me wonder why no one liked me. As a 9 year old you are quite vulnerable. As an adult I can look back and say well I actually made no effort to try and meet friends, I was introverted and more than happy to just steer clear, it seemed too hard to put myself out there. When my eldest started school at a private school I started feeling like I was not going to fit in, yes we can afford to send her to private school but for us that means sacrificing a lot of big holidays and fancy cars, which other families do’t have to. I remember the first party we went to I was sitting with the mums as they discussed their overseas adventures (now in Australia it is not like we can just drive to another country), one was saying about the hotel her husband surprised her with with the most amazing view of the eiffel tower and others chatted about Europe and America and I sat there thinking oh no I will never be accepted. Then I thought oh well I’ll just be me, and they accepted me and my daughter and they like us for the kind, fun people we are. It is easy to make judgements and sometimes we do have to push ourselves. Happily now I have 3 children in school and they and I have made amazing friends. Great post as always! Thanks for linking up this week with #ABloggingGoodTime


  32. I can remember the post from Katie very clearly and as you say there was a lot in it that we could all no doubt identify with. It’s always tough breaking into a new group but I have tried to live my life by the motto “you only get out what you put in”. That of course is not always possible and like Katie I have had a couple of knock backs in my parenting history, but you can’t win them all but the secret is in the trying and occasionally coming up with a new strategy. If that fails well at least you tried. In fact this sounds like a list of the old cliched bits of parenting advice I give my own kids! Thanks for linking up again Edna. #TweensTeensBeyond

    Liked by 1 person

    • Edna? of the Dame variety!!! Hehe. Now that’s one for the conversational soup table … But I agree with your motto, but would not have always seen it that that in time gone by. Thanks for commenting Joe (he he)


  33. Lucy At Home

    A beautifully thought-provoking post, as always, Enda.

    My parents have always been very hospitable and so we were brought up from a young age to welcome people into our social groups and look out for anyone feeling vulnerable. So. when I am feeling confident in a group setting and I’m happily digging into the “soup”, I always try to welcome those in who are on the outside – I see it as my responsibility as someone who is already established to look after those who are just arriving. BUT there are times when I am out of my comfort zone and feeling very much on the outside – I find it hard to break my way in and get frustrated that none of the established crowd are outward-looking enough to welcome me in, as I know I would be doing in that situation. I could probably be more self-assured, more pushy, but it doesn’t come naturally for me. #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lucy ,,, it really is such a reassuring feeling when people in a group one is new to go out of their way to break the ice and “let one in”, as it were. And the converse, such a horrible feeling to be excluded. We all want to belong, at some level. And feeling left out is such a primal thing, bringing us right back to our most vulnerable state. Thanks for commenting


  34. I get what you’re saying, but I’m not sure I agree entirely. Yes, we can make things happen ourselves, joining the soup party and the conversations, or not. But if I was at a place where everyone was having soup while one person sat soupless in the corner, I’d ask them if they’re alright and if they wouldn’t like some soup. If they were a new face, I’d make an effort to make them feel welcome. I think that is a kind of decent human behaviour, and if people see you, notice you, but choose to ignore you and don’t offer you any soup, I think you’re fully entitled to have a whinge about them (although I’d probably just go home, make my own soup, and have my conversations online instead) x


  35. Enda, your pieces always make me smile. I really like your insights and view on life. Keep it up! #ThatFridayLinky

    Liked by 1 person

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