Tag Archives: Socializing

Socializing Sucks

There was a time when I thought I was a closeted extrovert. For those who don’t know extroverts are people who get their batteries recharged from social interaction. They’re the people that sit at home bored losing their minds and then go hang out with people to pick themselves up. There were a few times where social interaction put me in a manic mood, like when you have a deep conversation with a friend or really connect with someone. Maybe that is me? Maybe I’m an extrovert?

I always thought I was an introvert because I was shy. But shy and introverted are two different things and I suppose you can have shy extroverts and outgoing introverts. (Who the hell are those people anyways? Anyone have examples?) Also being introverted doesn’t mean you hate social interaction and I think this causes a bunch of introverts like myself some problems. I love social interaction but end up thinking something like, “But I’m introverted. I don’t like people. Why do I feel lonely?” You can see where the problem is hopefully.

After this week I’m certain I’m an introvert. I’ve been as close to a social butterfly this week as I possibly can be and I’m exhausted. Part of it is probably due to not drinking and recovering from that mess, but a lot of it is from socializing.

Therapy last Friday wasn’t good. I admitted to drinking and feeling miserable and noted how damn insecure I was about the upcoming shift change at work and possibly losing friendships that I cherish. She gave an obvious suggestion: keep in touch with them over vacation. You know, show that I value them as friends. That was my ‘homework’ assignment for this past week. Just be somewhat social and “check in” on my friends while I’m away.

What I found was eye-opening. I knew I had severe anxiety at texting people and I regularly won’t respond to a text I deem “important” for fear of saying the wrong thing, or not wording what I want to say perfectly, or maybe because I’m scared they won’t reply back. Sometimes I’ll need to be drunk to have the courage to reply, and that leads to “drunken-text anxiety” the following morning. Let’s make this clear too; these are just regular texts to friends and nothing more. Texting a love interest and having anxiety is understandable but I’m just an anxious mess apparently.

So I dove into texting and trying to hang out with a few friends I haven’t seen in a long time. I was forcing myself to reply to messages in less than a day and practiced just, you know, replying like a sane and relaxed human being. And you know what? It actually worked! By the end of the week I was texting and replying like a fucking champ with all the casualness in the world. If I didn’t get a reply, oh well, who gives a shit? The conversation was probably over anyways.

My friend from North Carolina moved back this week and I texted him asking if he needed help moving. He said that’d be cool so I drove over Thursday to help. His parents had already moved most of his stuff up to his second floor apartment and I only helped with a TV and it’s stand. His parents are super cool people so interacting with them wasn’t too bad, but the anxiety was still there. Hanging out with this guy is easy mode because he’s about the most outgoing and extroverted guy in the world. It reminds me of how extroverts in high school sometimes adopt the quiet, introverted kids to be their friends. But I’m proud I did some work to actually reach out to him and helping is always fun. As an introvert you can’t count on the extroverts to do the work all the time.

My wife and I drove to Davenport Iowa to see my sister and her girlfriend Friday. I need to write a post about how much I hate driving, or did my past drunken self already do that? We were only there for two hours and I was dead for about half the time, once again partly due to not drinking, partly due to the two hour car ride, and partly due to socializing. Shit, even socializing with my sister drains my battery. Meeting her girlfriend for the second time was also stressful, but she’s an extrovert (I think) and better at carrying a conversation than the other three of us, so talking to her was enjoyable, but still draining. I did my best to ask her about herself because introverts can’t rely on the extroverts to always make the conversation. We made it back home after another two hours and I sat on the couch dead for a half hour before jumping into Kerbal Space Program to recharge them batteries.

Aaannnd yesterday. I hung out with a guy I used to work with a decade ago. We have a fun backstory beyond that; we used to date sisters! I never talked to him at the time but he got hired at UPS and we became friends by association. “Oh, you’re the guy that’s dating my crazy ex’s sister. Cool!” Eventually they broke up so now we get to bond over having crazy ex-girlfriend sisters. Yeah, to hell with them.

He wanted to hang out two months ago but I blew him off and disappeared into the ether like I do. I texted him earlier this week admitting as much. “Hey dude, sorry I disappeared for a few months there but I’m on vacation this week. Want to get together and do something?” Man look at me, being the guy asking people to hang out! He came over today and we talked outside for an hour before grabbing some food. I tried my best to be “present” in the conversation but damn do I have almost zero energy to work with. My social battery came from a five-year-old phone apparently. We only hung out for three hours but once again I sat on the couch and just spaced out after he left. I’m so damn tired and exhausted even though I did nothing physical at all.

And there’s the whole visiting my Gramma/Uncle/Aunt/Cousin that I mentioned in this post. It was the same thing: an hour of mild conversation followed by me getting sleepy and lethargic and wanting to go home and play video games. But it’s family so it’s not that big of an achievement.

Achievement. Yes, I think that’s what it is. It sounds silly but a week ago I was stressed about vacation, being bored, feeling lonely, being forgotten by my work friends, and drinking to mask it all up. I sobered up and even if that was shitty and stressful by itself I still managed to face the anxiety and stress of social rejection and text people. It’s not that bad either; what exactly am I so worried about? And I really went above and beyond by hanging out with a few friends and family members that I haven’t seen in quite a long time. I think today I’m going to be a total introvert and just relax. Maybe read a book or play video games or garden of all things.

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Quiet Introspection is Awesome

This week I’ve been in a strange mood. The total emotional vomit of the weekend has been replaced by a hollow yet comforting feeling. It feels like I’m myself in my most fundamental way, not trying to search for anything or trying to discover anything, only existing. This is me: nothing.

I don’t recall the last time I’ve really closed up, introspected, kept busy, and was dead to the outside world. It’s strange too, because I’m a huge fan of closing myself away and existing. Maybe that’s part of myself I’d lost in the past few years? My tendency towards “growth” usually forces me outside of my comfort zone into socializing, being open, etc. and maybe this isn’t how I really am. Under the guise of “growth” and “challenging myself” I can ignore the fact that maybe I’m just trying to be something that I am fundamentally not. I’m a quiet, unsociable hermit, so why am I trying to be anything else?

Or maybe it’s just depression. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I think my realization on Sunday might’ve spooked me or something. My tendency to rely on others, constantly seek social approval, and wanting to be ‘special’ or ‘part of the in-crowd’ might be another way for myself to play right into my own insecurities. To recap slightly: my mom wasn’t very loving so I think I carried that right into adulthood as insecurity, self-loathing, and a lack of self-esteem. My thinking goes like this; do I feel pressured to socialize to feel accepted? Just in a general way? Even if I don’t want to interact, do I force myself to (once again under the guise of “self-improvement” or “putting myself out there”) be someone disingenuous because of my insecurities?

I don’t know, but I’ve been embracing a “minimalistic” approach to myself lately. I feel naked as a person, totally exposed, to where I don’t even know who I really am as a person. Am I the person who makes silly jokes at work? Am I the person that is quiet and sulks? Am I a reclusive writer? And I bipolar who is very sociable/quiet depending on my mood? Who am I really? I don’t know and I’ve gotten to the point of exhaustion even caring about it. I am who I am. I show up to work and fucking sit in silence. I don’t ignore people — that would be forcing myself in another disingenuous needlessly hostile direction — I just don’t try to force anything. If I have a question, I’ll ask and if someone asks me a question, I’ll answer. No elaborate replies, not big complex stories, no obvious fake smiles or anything. Just me. Or the most basic and genuine me that I can find, whoever that even is.

We have plenty of downtime at my job. Yesterday we had a three hour break. Yes. I sat in our crew van — a normal 15-passenger Chevy Van — and listened to music. Most people were off socializing or sitting in their own tugs (tiny little tractors we use to pull shit around), and I was able to listen to four full albums. Dead Kennedys Frankenchrist, and Radiohead’s In Rainbows, OK Computer, and Moon Shaped Pool.

As a side note, I’ve really been embracing punk music in my current state. There is something so visceral, cold, and fun about punk music, especially the Dead Kennedys. Jello Biafra’s lyrics are always cynical, sarcastic, and political. What better way to give up introspection than to blast heavy, fast, loud, violent music with lyrics that don’t give a shit about anything emotional? They contrast wonderfully with all the introspective, emotional, and difficult to listen to music I’ve been playing lately. It’s a form of beautiful escapism and I’ll always have a place in my heart for the Dead Kennedys because of this.

Even after we start loading our airplane we have at least a half-hour of downtime. What do you do with all this time stuck in an airplane? Most people talk — people seem to not be able to escape the need to fucking talk to each other, even if the topics are about the boringest, blandest, most unfulfilling shit possible — and obviously I had zero patience or need for it this week. So I sat cross legged in the airplane and stared at whatever object I could find to stare at. Kinda like a loose form of meditation, just accepting that this is me and this is who I am for the next 30 minutes and there was no escape or even purpose to escape. This is Water, I thought.

People on my crew (in general?) can’t seem to stand still or to not talk. One girl walks to the rear of the plane and back, over and over, getting her “daily steps” in or some shit. She’s kinda a health nut so I understand. Another two people can’t seem to stand still — even if they’re not “getting their steps in” they’re still nervously pacing around the plane for some unknown reason. Another few people feel the need to socially interact every moment of their lives. Their conversations are always about the, once again, most boringest, blandest, most unfulfilling shit possible; usually the unholy trifecta which is work, weather, and sports. These people constantly roam around going from person to person or group to group trying to find someone, anyone to talk listen to them ramble. And a few people I consider friends stand and talk in a small group of two to four people about whatever topic they’re talking about at the time. No judgement to them because you can tell they’re having a fun, laid-back, mutual discussion about whatever they’re talking about. There isn’t any twisted social reasoning for their talking; they’re just talking like normal healthy human beings do.

And I sit there and stare not wanting to be apart of anything. I don’t have the urge to. It’s not me being anti-social or depressed, I just don’t want to talk. Or to force myself to talk. Or to force myself to be apart of something. I’m aware of my insecurities and don’t want to play into them or worry about them. So I’ll just sit, thank you, and exist as I am for a half hour. I make a point to not appear too sulky or depressive or happy or introspective. Keeping as blank of a stare as possible is part of the loose meditation. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone, even with a facial expression.

Sometimes I am curious how this appears to others. “Jeremy this week seems a lot more quiet and reserved than he usually is,” maybe some think, but most likely no one notices or cares; this is how people are. That’s freeing in and of itself. I don’t feel any social stigma for sitting and being withdrawn. I’m doing my own thing and fuck anyone for thinking of it strange or weird, and if it makes me more unique by being totally accepting of myself and my actions, isn’t that what I’ve been after this whole time? The ability to embrace myself, without worry or care, and be appreciated as the naked and raw person that I am deep within?

I’m sure this phase won’t last long. Sunday was me realizing something about myself and wondering what the hell I even do with the realization. A half-week later I’m already embracing myself and reflecting on it all. And I’m sure in a week I’ll be back to socializing for some fucking unknown reason. Sometimes I hate everything being in flux; I kinda like to exist in my current mood for the rest of my life, but that won’t happen. Moods always change into other moods and if there is one thing that is true about life is there is nothing for you to hold onto. You can’t grasp happiness and hold it forever, and as comforting as depression sometimes is, you can’t grasp that either. Something about learning how to surf the waves, “go with the flow,” or some other trite bullshit you’ve heard countless times.