I attended two Christmas Parties last week, one for my work and one for Kevin’s and, as great as they were, I am so glad they are over.
My work Christmas party was held as a potluck during the work day with speeches, games, prizes and noise. So much noise. Still, it was a lovely party and was such an incredible amount of fun. (And I’m not just staying that because I was on the committee that organized the event. Honest.)
Kevin’s party was a far classier affair held on Saturday night at a downtown pub. People dressed well, there was a buffet, an open bar, a Gift Exchange Game, and noise. So much noise.
(Author’s Note: I am not a Grinchy Grouch, but attending noisy gatherings while suffering from a concussion is its own special circle in Hell.)
Still, it isn’t the noise or the concussion that leaves me both loving and hating these occasions.
No, it’s my personality.
Contrary to popular belief I am an Introvert.
Yup. It’s true. I desperately need time alone in order to function and I find that if I am always in the company of others I start to become “off”.
Lately introversion has been a very popular topic, with countless lists and articles being shared online about how to deal with introverts vs. extroverts, and the positives of this long derided personality. I won’t say I agree with everything I have read on the topic, but neither have I disagreed. To be honest I am rather neutral.
My whole life I was coached to be more outgoing and to smile more as if my introversion could be cured. I don’t blame anyone as this was just the attitude of the times. Still, I have suffered from awkwardness and bullies because of my introverted tendencies and I am thrilled that the personality type is becoming more celebrated.
But alas, the internet agreeing that introversion is awesome doesn’t help me very much when I am forced into these social situations.
I have always found people fascinating and because of this I love talking to people and getting to know them, but despite (and probably because of) my enthusiasm I am absolutely horrid at small talk. I either become overeager and terrifying or I just start to spout random words and sentences that really don’t go well together causing me to look and sound ridiculous.
This is particularly bad when I am forced to interact with people who “aren’t like me”. (Read: people who are not massive nerds or dorks and who have absolutely zero interest in any nerdy or dorky topics.) Unless I can quickly find a mutual interest while conversing with someone I start to flounder. Hard.
In these situations I tend to revert back to my “high school self” where I become intimidated, shy, and horribly uncomfortable. And it doesn’t matter how nice and friendly these people are, or how many times I have met them, until I can find that mutual topic I just dread speaking to people.
It’s not a good scene.
This is why unless I am comfortable with and know at least 80% of people at a party I end up feeling sick to my stomach for days before attending.
The dread settles in and I start to overanalyze every situation that hasn’t happened yet. I even start to plan conversations in my head (this is something that NEVER works out as people never follow their imaginary cues and if anything it makes social situations even more awkward as I start to respond in the way I planned rather in a way that is relevant to the conversation).
I genuinely believe the problem is because I have spent my entire life believing I needed to be more outgoing and more extroverted, and because of this I always feel an unhealthy amount of pressure to be someone I am not.
Lately I have been discovering that the less I care about what people think the happier and more at ease I am.
I’m not at the point yet where I can talk like a normal person to Kevin’s coworkers, but at least I’m less weird than I was three years ago and that’s a good thing.
They say the magic happens outside your comfort zone! (Or at least they said it in that one episode of ‘Girls’ where Hannah did coke and it was awkward and I really didn’t actually enjoy that episode, but I did like that saying.) Now, this doesn’t mean you should work yourself up into doing things you don’t want to do and end up stressed beyond belief. To me it means trying something you are a bit afraid as often as you can handle, even if it’s just mingling.
Mingle all the way, my friends.