Monday, February 23, 2009

Social Disaster

So, I was at a party with some acquaintances. Specifically, a party for one friend, which I felt obligated to attend, even though I knew very few other people there. You know this party. We’ve all been to this party before.

I knew what to expect: I’d come in late, sip something, try to seem interested in people for a while, greet my friend, then quietly duck out and return to the waiting arms of my DVR. Obligation over.

What actually happened was not so simple.

I chatted for about twenty minutes, right when I arrived. Fine. Then I stayed at the party for an additional two hours – without talking to anyone. Not a person. The whole time. Despite the fact that everyone in the party was circling around me, talking to each other, but ignoring me. This is not an exaggeration. It was WEIRD.

Two things to point out. First of all, I could have left at any time. I’m not claiming to be a social victim, here. I also could have initiated conversations. I’m often quiet, but I’m not afraid to talk to people I don’t know. I do it all the time.

At first I stayed because it was too early to leave without being rude. Then I stayed because I wondered how long it’d be before someone talked to me. It never happened.

I’m amazed that, one, I was able to stand there so long without anyone talking to me, even accidentally. Two, that no one noticed, at least not enough to rescue me. And three, that I wasn’t really all that uncomfortable.

What I experienced is one of the classic introvert fears: being at a party and not talking to anyone, or worse, no one being interested in talking to you. So why didn’t I care?

The answer I settled on (during the two hours I was alone with my thoughts) comes down to self-confidence. I may not have made any friends that night, but I know now that I like myself enough to not care what a roomful of strangers thinks of me.


Pauline Karakat said...
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Pauline Karakat said...

What a brave and refreshing topic! It is awkward when we are in a room full of strangers and there is no interaction between the two. But like you said, it takes self-confidence to come out of a situation like that unscathed. Sometimes people will come up to me and start a discussion, and other times I do too, but there has to be some sort of non-verbal invitation from the other person(s), because some people don't want to be approached. Socializing with new people can be a treacherous game, and other times it can be rewarding and liberating.

Thanks for writing this post!

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