Just Being There.
I went to a Halloween party on Saturday. A friend of mine was throwing it at her home. She really did up the outside, and I liked the atmosphere. Here’s a cool picture I took of myself at the party:
I was dressed as Geoffrey Tennant, from the TV show Slings and Arrows. Nobody in attendance had heard of the show. Understandable, as it’s sort of niche entertainment for theater types such as myself.
Also, almost nobody there had heard of me.
There was my friend, and there was an acquaintance of mine there. Beyond that, I knew nobody. As you might guess, I felt a bit awkward and stressed. I usually am if I don’t know anybody at a social gathering. I went to support my friend, the hostess of the party. I believe in supporting the efforts of friends whenever possible, so it was no small reason for me to show up for a few hours. Plus, I haven’t had a reason to dress up for Halloween in several years.
But the social aspect of it was as I predicted it would be.
As an introvert, I have often joked about hating people, especially strangers. This of course is not actually true; it’s my natural temperament carried to a somewhat satirical extreme. Yet as with all satire, there is an element of truth at the core of such statements.
What power or charm I may have is generally inversely proportionate to the number of people I don’t know in any given situation. I knew two people out of about 20 at this party, and of those two, I only know one of them well. I rarely “make rounds” to meet new people. (And to be fair, neither did anybody else at the party, that i could tell. So it was a double shot of awkward.)
In the other hand, what power and charm I may have is directly proportional to how much of my skill and talent I am using. Usually. That is at least the conclusion I have come to, after considering just how many friends I have now as a result of the theatre. My intensity can rub certain people quite the wrong way within the context of a production, don’t get me wrong. But for about half of the people, that very intensity earns me certain respect and even interest. That has been known to draw certain people in initially, and from there friendships have formed.
To the best of my memory, I have made exactly one friend cold turkey from a social gathering full of strangers. Ironically, that person was the hostess of this party.
In the last few years I made a friend or two from a writers group I used to go to. I don’t attend the group anymore because most of the people I liked stopped going. Yet I became at least friendLY with some new folks because of once again, the use of my talent for writing, and for talking about writing.
Theatre, the writing group, and a few other types of places are examples of “getting to know” people. Parties are an example of “meeting people.” The terms are interchangeable to most, but the latter implies that I myself, my very presence is somehow an event-a product. “I’m a hell of a guy, and I’m off to meet others like me.”
I may be a great guy, but that alone isn’t a spring board from which I can jump off without feeling like a used car salesman.
In short, recent events have confirmed that often what I truly hate is meeting people.
Getting to know people, however, especially when there’s a common goal between us, or a sharing of talent and passion to accomplish same is where it happens for me. It doesn’t always help me make connections, but when I make connections, that is almost always why.
It can be tiresome, yes. Inconvenient. Frustrating, because this country is built on many ways to operate in the exact opposite manner. But frankly, I’m all right with that aspect of me. I may not have always been, and the time will come when it may bother me again for a while. But all and all, the party made me realize that I have accepted it about me for the most part. I didn’t make any friends, but it wasn’t painful either. I was just…there.
Sometimes the best you can ask of yourself is to just be there.
- Posted in: Introversion