Extroverts just don’t get it. They don’t get how hard it is for us introverts to sit in a room of people we don’t know and try to socialize. Small talk is painful. It’s draining. It can be torture.
Get me one-on-one and I’m fine. I’m not shy at all. I’ll talk your ear off. I just can’t stand socializing in groups of people I don’t know…Mingling.
Even the word sounds horrible.
I went to see a band play the other night on my own. I don’t really mind being on my own at shows, generally. A lot of shows I go to I know people there so I have someone to hang out with (like Mike D). And this last year my oldest son has been coming to just about any show I want to see with me (unless it’s not an all-ages show), so I’ve gotten used to having company.
The band I saw recently was playing at a small bar, and I didn’t know anyone there. I probably wouldn’t have felt awkward if it had been a bigger place. In a big place with lots of people around, you don’t feel so conspicuous on your own. Because hey, maybe you aren’t on your own. Maybe the people you’re with haven’t arrived yet. Or maybe they’re off at the bar getting a drink. Or in the restroom. Or parking the car. Or maybe you’re a professional photographer there to shoot the show and it’s really just a job for you, not something you’d go to on your own because you don’t have any friends and you’re a loser.
But this was a neighborhood bar kind of venue, very small, and people go to socialize probably as much as or more than they do to see bands. So I brought my PSP, and sat on a bar stool and played videogames until the band I wanted to see played. Then I left.
Well, not quite. After the band played, I wanted to buy an album but had to wait for them to put their gear away before anyone was manning the merch table. So I stood awkwardly for a few moments near the stage while everyone else started chatting to other people. Then I circled the venue a couple times. Then I bought an album and left.
I did manage to eavesdrop on some conversations, though, and that can be entertaining. Did you know John Hughes used to fly to London just to buy records in the 80s? (That explains a lot.)
Some of the band members were outside the venue when I left. I wanted to tell them how much I enjoy their music and loved the show, but I know myself better than that. What should come out as, “You guys were great! I hope you come back soon!” would more likely come gushing out as, “I love you guys! Big fan! I love you! Are you Duffy or Sean? Will you sign my record? I know I have a pen in here somewhere…” at which point I’d spill the tampons out of my purse at their feet.
What’s sad is I’m about 10 years older than they are, and no one’s ever heard of them.
But having to put up with some awkwardness while waiting for a band to play is something I’m willing to do. It’s well worth it for me. Obviously, or I wouldn’t do it.
Do you know what’s harder?
Walking into the Relief Society room and choosing a seat is difficult. I don’t really know many women in there. Sitting next to someone I don’t know and having to make small talk? So hard. Sitting alone while everyone else makes small talk? Even harder, sometimes. Fortunately I’m in Primary and don’t have to go very often.
The hardest thing, though, is Enrichment night. I haven’t gone in ages. I used to go all the time, before moving to California, because our Seattle ward would ask the men to do nursery for the night, and my husband would always sign up for it—to make me go. They don’t do that here. And I don’t go. I have tried to go. I mean, I thought about going. I signed up for whatever class they were offering. I put it on my calendar. But I was overly optimistic: I didn’t go.
I’ve been trying for ages to get a photography club going in our ward. I actually love getting together in groups to discuss stuff. When there’s a planned agenda then I’m good, once the meeting starts. Which is why Relief Society is easier than Enrichment night. Enrichment is much more about socializing than learning.
I know what you’re thinking. What about ward parties? Those aren’t too bad. We go as a family. I have a built-in group to socialize with. It also helps that my husband is an extrovert and will talk to everyone while I can sit back and only occasionally say something terribly witty.
Alright, if truth be known, I have brought my PSP to ward parties and took refuge in it. But only because everyone was watching a movie I’d already seen.