Between work and school, my husband and I don’t get a lot of social time. It’s just a hectic season I guess. On top of all the assignments, studying, driving back and forth (we share one vehicle, which often seems unfathomable by others living in this money-town) and attempts at cooking, we are really just too tired to do much else in any free time available, except eat as we watch reruns of Friends.
So, when we received an invite to a friend’s party, and one that we both were actually able to go to, we were quite excited. The dork in me declared, “We are gonna get our social on!” Friday came, we suited up and were on our way.
Thankfully, the evening started with an ice breaker. (The one where you ask questions to figure out the name of the sticker on your back.) It’s a huge deal for me just to go up to someone and start talking; I have these shy tendencies that I unfortunately never grew out of. So the game was a good excuse to approach people at random.
This was short-lived though, and I was soon stuck to my own devices to navigate this unfamiliar social phenomenon called conversation. I tried my darndest to listen intently; I tried to ask questions. But everything I said just sounded so… awkward. At least to me, anyways. And then, a topic came up that was completely out of my realm of expertise ( and it seems most things are), and I’m still trying to be a good listener. Trying too hard – because suddenly, I am acutely aware of my facial expressions, and then like dominoes down a hill, so goes my attention…
What do I do with my arms? Down? Crossed? No, not crossed… I need a cup to hold onto…
Do I look in their eyes? Or their face? What’s less creepy?
Oh no, I think I’m doing that Muppet-smile again…
Part way through the evening, I was talking with a fellow, and upon learning I had lived in the area for a very long time, he asked what I like to do for fun.
I was stumped.
“I… don’t know” I finally replied, and tried to shrug it off with (what I hoped was) a charming smile. ” Guess I’m not a very good one to answer that!” I could have ended there; better yet, I wish I had come up with something like, hang out with friends, travel, bake; just anything but what I said next, which was,
“I guess I’m kind of a homebody.”
What the what??
I don’t think I’ve ever identified myself as a homebody before. While it may be true that I spend a lot of evenings at home, it is not because I Like to be alone, I just… there’s just… I don’t know…
I’ve been dwelling on this conversation all weekend. Am I a homebody? Why don’t I have any hobbies currently? What am I doing with my life???
Am I …
B o r i n g ? ?
All this makes me thankful for mini-communities. Places with familiar faces, where everyone shares at least one thing in common, and if you wish, you can discuss (at length) that one common thing. Like, at school, at work, family, even at Church. These places make me feel accepted; they make me feel like I’m not completely socially inept.
It is absurd that a conversation or two left me feeling so self-conscious. The following day I had even considered making up a list of small-talk questions, and filling out answers for myself, so that future conversations and questions wouldn’t leave me so stumped and awkward.
Twenty-six years old, and I’m still learning how to be an adult.
I think I’m going to go make that list now.