Monday, November 14, 2011

Meeting People? What's That?

With 11 days between posts, I think it's pretty obvious how crazy my life has been. Some of it has been good crazy, and some of it was continuing in the pattern of my last post, where I'm just doing too much play before work. That lifestyle really doesn't suit my overly responsible and highly anxious personality, but I kind of figure I should be taking advantage of all the random fun that comes at me while I can. It really is nice only worrying about myself and doing whatever I want to do.

Obviously some nights get old, and I really want company and get tired of being so self-involved. But for the most part I enjoy living my life the way I do.

Now, one of the activities that filled my time pretty recently was a "Why Not?" dinner through my ward at church.

Granted, I put my own name in this box along with someone else's. But as a disclaimer, I was under the impression that it would be a small group of people.

If you know me at all, you know I don't like large groups of people. Even after always being this way, I haven't pinpointed what it is exactly that gives me the "freakouts" about these situations. I have a few ideas, though.

One possibility is that large groups make me feel suffocated. I am an incredibly expressive and opinionated person. I don't have to be the star of the show. I can take on that role if I need to, but it's not something I have to do or be. But I also don't like being pushed to the sidelines or viewed as insignificant. And when this happens, I refuse to compete. Naturally, I become frustrated.

Something that makes this issue worse is that I hate small talk. I understand what it's for, and I get that "getting to know someone" has to start somewhere. I am pretty aware of social mores as I am a highly observant person. But small talk feels trivial and artificial for me. As a blue, I like to create deep, emotional connections with people and would just rather skip all the surface-level crap and find it out later. So here's the rub. When I am forced to wade through the obligatory cesspool that is small talk, I expect to at least be reciprocated. When I ask questions of several people sitting around me, and no one takes an interest in me or requites the questions, I get all flustered. "I am cooperating here, people. I'm jumping through your silly social hoops. Now work with me!"

Obviously this was the case at the dinner I went to. There were 18 people including myself. This was way too many, in my opinion. The conversation was patchy, and the attention of some was spread much too thin.

In true LDS fashion, we had to play some games, right? I mean, we didn't have to. We could have left. But weren't we there to get to know people? Or... one person...? Not wanting to cheat myself out of a good opportunity, I stayed. The games were fine. Some got really into them, which provided a lot of humor.

But I returned home that night feeling like I was about to explode. Eventually, after letting everything sink in for about 20 minutes, I burst into tears.

I think it was the stuff mentioned above--feeling suffocated and uninteresting--plus a few other things. It was the 5th of November, which was a tradition with my past group of friends where we'd watch V for Vendetta together and make a big thing out of it. Having left a huge social gathering with the same number of friends as I had when I came just left me feeling really heartbroken. I couldn't get anyone to watch V for Vendetta with me (believe me, I tried). So I guess this was a night where my occasional loneliness was remarkably apparent to me.

I'd like to point out, just to be clear, that I am not socially retarded. I hung out with two ladies from work tonight who are both awesome in many ways. They are both really different from me, but I feel like I can hold my own in a conversation or count myself out when I don't have anything to add. In a small group like that, or one-on-one, I am quite comfortable. On a date, I can be really polite and conversational, even if I'm not very interested in someone. I'm not awkward. It's very hard to make me feel uncomfortable, to be honest. And I feel like my inclination to be underwhelmed and unsurprised by just about everything makes it so that people's weirdness doesn't freak me out. I can carry on or laugh even after something odd was said or done.

I think that given that on a number of occasions I have: put myself out there, tried to overcome my social frustrations, and pushed myself out of my comfort zone, it's safe to say that these situations will pretty much never be successful for me.

That is not the way I make connections with others. It's just not. Sorry, LDS culture. There are some things Janae just can't do.

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