The Burden of Socialising: Episode I

Yeesh, that title is certainly something. I was going to make it one whole thing but I figured I’d tighten it up in the hopes that it makes my manner of talking more bearable, and maybe, just maybe, palpable?

But first, hold on a moment as I expel my head of other thoughts and we’ll get right on that. I know we’ve only been at this a month, but I think it’s getting better…

Right?

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I’m not gonna coerce you or anything, but it’s in your best interest to agree.

I’ve noticed that I make errors frequently and certainly have an affinity for few keywords or phrases, which I’m trying to change. Again, I just find it harder to show variety in personal writing than I do with fiction. Up until now, The general structure is to write something, attempt to proof-read, post it and then link it, followed by another proof-read. I seem to notice things better once the realisation dawns that oh shit, people can actually read this and so I make one final revision.  That’s been sorta working (don’t laugh) I suppose but I’m now trying to do what I imagine most bloggers would do which is write something, edit, sleep on it, re-read, cry and think wtf made me think folks would want to read this shit re-edit, and then post. Going to do my best to keep to that rhythm for now and hopefully (major emphasis on that word), it’ll make for better content.

Before I move on from this, I can’t help but ponder on the quiet arrogance of this whole thing. The cynic in me wants to know what do I think I have to say that is so special that I’d try to share it with others. What do I think gives me the right? And the answer is such.

Why are you being so mean? I’m YOU ya tit, can’t we just get along?

If a better response comes to mind, you’ll be the first to know.

Let’s get into it.

Maestro, if you will.

Quick aside, do youse lot like these music links? I think it’s a neat little extra as I link to whatever it was I was listening to while typing/editing the piece.

Introvert or Social anxiety?

These are two things that are often mistaken for each other, because from an outsider’s perspective, there is no discernible difference, right?

As someone who has at times in their life been one thing or the other, I find have I trouble myself. I suppose the easiest summary is this; One is a character trait, the other an affliction.

Again, from the outside, not sure if that makes it so easy to spot.

Hmm…

This one may be beyond me, but I’m gonna give it the good ole (never finished so much as a semester) college try!

The dictionary tells us that an introvert is “a shy, reticent person” which does little to explain the modern introvert. The modern introvert is someone who doesn’t dislike social gatherings per se, but they are drained by them none the less. Let me try to break down the day of and day after a social gathering of the introvert.

The Day Of (Introvert)

You wake up, have breakfast, maybe throw on some light background music or even a podcast as you go about the day. Hopefully, the weather ain’t too bad so you can treat yourself to a walk before you really need to get stuck into whatever challenges life is throwing at you. Maybe you settle on crossing off some chores and after that, you check your phone to see if whatever is going on tonight, is still going ahead. It’s not that you want it to be postponed, but if it’s cancelled, the sooner the better so you can book yourself in for a night on the couch, maybe treat yourself to a film you have on the watch-list.

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Hatching from his isolation box, The Introvert heads out into a dystopian social hellscape

If working, the day quickly (or very, very, slowly) turns to evening, so off you go to gallivant (what a marvellous word) for the night. It’s fine at the start, as it has probably been some time since you saw your friends, or at the very least, saw them all together at once.

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I have no idea what these people would listen to or talk about. Ou, I noticed mustard coloured clothes are back in, maybe they talk about that?

The Night Of (Introvert)

As the night goes on, you begin to feel it. A better crowd can most definitely help with this, but if you keep having to run into new/long lost faces, things begin to sap at you.

Hey, how are you? Long time no see!

Hey, how are you? I’m X, whats your name?

How do you know *insert guest of honour or host’s name*

Depending on how familiar you are with the group, this can bear its toll hard and fast. It’s the tedium of it, the almost scriptedness that comes with polite (or introductory) conversations. If the group stays small and the crowd is one you’re intimate with, then your set. If not, you probably make it through the night, and if so, good for you man. Your friends might not appreciate just how hard that was, but lord knows I do.

The Morning After (Introvert)

You wake up and regardless of alcohol intake, you feel…

Ruined.

Head pounding, smelling of other people’s cigarettes, and my god, what is that taste in your mouth? Did, did yo- No, we won’t even go there. Forget about it.

Forget about it!

Eventually, you get out of bed, treat yourself to breakfast and a shower in no particular order (for mebreakfast first. Always) and you check the group chat.

Oh man that was a laugh! Thanks guys!

I’m fucking destroyed. Can’t believe that happened. Cheer lads

Haha what a night. Let’s do that again soon!

You say your piece, thankful for the invite, you had a blast and all, but at this point you probably feel a tad guilty as you are not so enamoured with the thought of going through that again anytime soon. You don’t say that, for fear someone takes offence, so you leave it at that.

So. Much. FUN! Hope to see ye again soon! 😉

And you set about collecting yourself in whatever fashion works for you. Maybe reading, bit of cooking, possibly a video-game. Just something where it’s just you, alone. And with that, you steadily begin to recharge for whatever the next gathering is.

 

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This is an introvert. Notice how he makes his own fun? 

Now, we’re going to relive those 24 hours as someone with social anxiety.

This one is hard for me as I constantly change my mind about if my anxiety was depression based and therefore different to whatever “standard” social anxiousness would be, or if my feelings were by and large, fairly universal.

The Day Of (Anx)

Wake up, check phone almost before you’re conscious. Because maybe, just maybe, a key person will bail and it won’t go ahead so you can FINALLY get rid of this weight in your chest. It’s been two weeks since you promised you’d go, and anytime you think of it, that weight is still there. When you check your phone next time, it’ll be done with it. Perhaps Stephanie will take a rain check, and Karen would never be there without Steph, so that’s two down, and then the domino effect wi-

But no, no it never goes that way.

Really looking forward to tonight! Been ages since we’ve been on a tear!

Yeah, let’s turn this into a proper pub crawl? Kevin said him and his mates are in town, so we’re gonna all meet up at…

Hey X, your still coming, right?

That question is most likely asked as an innocent question, at worst, it’s asked with concern. That’s not how it reads though. It reads like an accusation.

And the weight in your chest grows heavier.

How can they just be so warmly enthusiastic about this? Do they not feel the same? The guilt swells as you begin to see this thing as an inconvenience. Do you want to see your friends? Absolutely. But in a less broadcast manner, as your more of a one to one chatter type now then a group chat sort.

Alas, it’s going ahead, and you don’t want to let anyone down, so now you enter an all-consuming cycle for your day. What will you wear? What will you talk about, do you even have anything new to talk about? Do you really need to wash or can you get away with how you are now? Will changing tops suffice? If your lucky, this thought process has only begun on the day of. More than likely, this has been haunting you since the plans were made two weeks ago.

How comfortably late will you be? Ha! As if you’ll be late. Showing up once the whole crowd is in a groove is so much worse for you. Because now they’ll have made inside jokes (an actual thought I’ve had. As if they won’t be willing to regale you what happened just 5 minutes before you showed) or you’ll find yourself in the middle of a conversation you feel you have no business in. If your late, any silence or lull is solely on you for interrupting their evening.

You’re going to be on time. Hell, you’ll probably be early. Because you don’t want to let them down, do you? Not after last time. The funny thing about “last time” is it has no expiration date. It could be well over a year since you were late or no-showed but that time is still in your head. So, like I said, you’re going to be early.

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We have yet to leave the house and yet somehow we’re just slightly north of the foetal position.

The Night Of (Anx)

So this is it, we’re out. With no shortage of mental anguish and second-guessing, we are actually, physically and definitely out. What “out” is can vary here too. Some people are fine at a house setting but freak out at bars or parties (we’ll say 15 or more for parties) whereas, for others, even just a dinner table’s worth of folk could be their breaking point. I guess you should really paint this scene in whatever applies to you.

You head out, and socially, you are probably fine. To anyone else, you are doing great. But in your head? It’s like there’s a different reality going off, two separate universes constantly intersecting. How you remember it, and how your friends did. You made some jokes, hung out, talked and to anyone there, you did good, like some kind of social wielding… Beyblade?

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Could these things talk or what was their deal? Beyblade came out when I was in my mid-teens, so I never did get into it.

But when you wake up, you relive it. 

Correction, when you get home, you start re-playing the night in your head.

But even that’s not true, is it? Whenever there is a gap in the conversation, or if you find yourself alone in the restroom, you’ve already begun to review, critque and judge yourself on the night so far.

I should have said that instead.

Why did I even come out, I look like a fucking fool. Everyone here is hating this, because of me.

Why are you screwing this up, they’d have more fun without you.

Just go home.

Maybe you stick it out for the night. That part really depends on how fuelled by guilt you are. I am very much so a guilt fuelled bastard.

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Here is a trial run of my guilt powered car. If I knew anything about cars, I could probably make a fun joke about the horsepower, and how much kitten-power that breaks down to. I’m gonna make a safe estimate, and say a truckload of kittens?

So if I’m out, I tend to stay out, because I’m unsure how to leave without making it seem like there is something wrong. I’ll endure and get through it as best I can, as my inner voice (fucking hate that guy) loves to tell me that “Leaving now would be wrong, or selfish, you owe it to your friends to stick it through”.

I feel like I’m cursing more in this one but not in a funny way, just being fairly generous with the volume of angry cursing. I do apologise but I think I’m processing some stuff here. Please stick around.
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No Doctor Who reference this time. Instead, this is the Anx from Star Wars (another great love). The elongated crown can change colour, making it easier to read their moods. No real joke here, just dropping some Star Wars facts

The Morning After (Anx)

If you’re lucky, the weight is lifted and your chest feels lighter.

It’s over. 

You survived.

Sort of.

Because in the dawn of a new day, comes a fresh wave of anxiety.

Did you even sleep when you got home? Or did you carry on reliving the night and repeatedly talking down to yourself? There is nothing wrong at all with some healthy introspection. However, when the socially anxious find themselves in this state, that introspection is anything but healthy.

Did they have fun?

Was I ok? Did I say something stupid?

Why do I torture them with my presence.

And why do I hurt myself by going to these things?

Comparing the two

That last thought is the one where the anxious person hurts themselves most. When this stuff is weighing on you, everything is a torment. Every friend, every text, every call, every communication feels like a gauntlet.

And one in which you repeatedly fail.

The key here is that whereas the Anx can’t embrace the crowd regardless of their own feelings, the introvert does enjoy the company. They just so happen to prefer their own for the majority of the time.

It’s in solace that they recharge.

Because neither of them necessarily dislike social situations. They are probably your best friend for one to ones, but they do tend to struggle in crowds. And social gatherings hit them both hard. My personal number is 5. A group up to 5 and all is well. My hard cap is 8. After that, I tend to shut down or subconsciously try to marginalise the gathering, by isolating myself or a small portion e.g if we get spread out, I’m unlikely to try to round everyone up.

Wrapping up

Oof, so this was me trying to get across and explain the differences using somewhat personal examples, yet keeping it as impersonal as possible. And upon re-reading, I’m not really sure what to make of *waves his hands upwards* whatever you’d call that.

Next time, we’re gonna try dig deeper to when I noticed these changes in my own persona.

Next time, let’s get personal.

Talk Soon.

P.S

Would like to try to keep to 3 posts a week but this might be cheating a tad. Just figure it makes the whole thing more digestible. As usual, if you ever want to get in touch, ya can try my email or twitter.

 

 

9 thoughts on “The Burden of Socialising: Episode I

  1. Pingback: Weekend Wind-up

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