The thing is, I’m socially awkward. I sincerely hope you had no idea this was the case, but it’s very true. There are people I see who can walk into any situation with a smile or a smirk and command attention or incite revelry.
I can walk into any situation and quietly go to a corner to watch everything like a bald vulture. Not even a bald eagle! A vulture. Totally vulture. Vulture4Lyfe.
Sometimes, that’s useful. Attending classes or meetings, I feel like I absorb what’s going on pretty quickly. Possibly quicker than others. But at parties, I tend to be that single guy holding a cup, moving quietly from corner to conversation group to another corner. Occasionally grazing by the snacks.
At a ThirstDC event at the end of May, I heard a fun talk about introverts versus extroverts and realized yet again that my behavior puts me pretty firmly in the introvert category. It was funny for me to think that I could take pride in my characteristics as an introvert, especially when I felt out of place at the event itself.
I fit the talk’s description pretty well there: I didn’t mingle much with people. I kept quiet until I’d heard enough that I could figure out how I could contribute something to the conversations, and I’d have been pretty happy to be left to people-watch in a corner instead of having folks come up to me.
Except that I fight my introversion. I fight letting it keep me from enjoying events and the company of friends, new and old. That night, I brought my friend Pam with me and I knew if nothing else, I’d keep trying to make sure she was having a good time. I do that. I made a point to go up to other friends who were there, like Libby & Drew and Alicia & Eliot. I met new people, exchanged names, gave out my social media “business cards”. I tried really hard.
I still felt like I sucked, but I think I actually did okay. Having social media business cards is a big help for me. Even if nobody ever uses it, I like to give out my cards with photos of me on them. They spark a little conversation and it gives me a thing To Do.
That might be the worst part for me: what am I supposed to do? I don’t drink and I feel like I never seem to know much about topics of conversations at most parties. If it’s a game night, I love it! I can play the game or watch the game or even just heckle the game. If it’s a dance party, I can dance. (yes, I can) If it’s a dinner party or a potluck… I mean, I can do it, but I tend to feel bad about being a pig in front of people so that’s not my favorite.
So, I come up with things To Do at parties and I just do them. Whether that’s giving out my social media cards or chatting up women or something else, that takes my mind off how I’m not good at it.
But then, last month I threw a party. What? Yeah, I know. And I think I did okay. The nice thing about it was that it was nothing but Things To Do. I had to organize it, come up with ideas for things that could be fun to have and do there, schedule it, invite people, try to make sure people stayed happy during the party — it was great for me! I didn’t really get to relax and enjoy it as an attendee, I guess, but I don’t know if I would have anyway.
So, in the last couple of months, I’ve realized that I suck at parties because I’m an introvert. But I’ve reaffirmed that if I have something to do at a party, it won’t be so bad. And apparently I can throw a pretty decent one.
Vultures and parties. Who knew?