Sunday, 18 October 2015

On avoiding Social Confrontation

Original Picture taken from StockSnap
 Today was the day I was supposed to go the birthday party of my father's girlfriend.
Judging from the way I phrased this first sentence it is quite easy to deduce that I did not go. 

They had invited me to come about to months ago - on my father's birthday party actually. Of course, I accepted the invitation with the usual excitement you have to show on such an occasion, but deep inside I was already dreading the prospect of sitting among all those strangers not knowing what to say to them. 

I have to admit, that soon afterwards I just forgot about the invitation. Until about one week ago, my father messaged me to remind me of the upcoming event. I didn't answer him for two more days debating on what I should answer him. Should I again tell him that I would come or should I decline with some poor excuse?

In the end, I opted for version no. 2. I told him that I was sorry, but I had to do the late shift at work, so it would be impossible for me to make it. But I ensured him, that I would ask my colleagues to switch with me. Then, on Wednesday, I messaged him again. Nobody was able to switch shifts. I was stuck. And deeply sorry. He was very understanding. After all, work always comes first. And nobody really wants to work on Saturdays, right?

While it felt wrong, this was not the first time for me to invent a reason not to go somewhere. And I was so relieved. Entering a room full of people you don't know, or people you've already met, but you never came around to getting to know them properly, is always a horrible, horrible feeling.
You know that you do not belong into this kind of inner circle of acquaintances.You are an intruder, and even though they might try to incorporate you, talk to you, it feels weird. I never know which questions to ask, or what to tell them about myself that might be interesting for them, but not uncomfortable for me. 

Most of the time those situations end with me either slipping away to the bathroom, taking deep breaths, or me making my way to the food.

A lot of people might say that this is the perfect chance to meet new people, but for me it just means a lot of inconveniences. It is not really anxiety, but a deeply rooted feeling of uneasiness

You never want to be person who sits around simply observing the people around you and just listenting to their conversations instead of engaging in them. Because at the end the host might worry if you are okay;
"I hope you had at least some fun tonight. Next time there will be more people your age, like my niece with her boyfriend."
What am I? A child? And how should this niece and her boyfriend improve my situation? Of course, it was meant well, but ill executed.

Maybe talking to people on a personal basis, especially strangers, is something I should practice, but it is honestly so hard. Once I start to talk to them my mind goes blank. There is nothing. No interesting question. No witty comment. 

The way I handled it was not the perfect way to get out of this situation, but the only one that seemed to work for me at the moment. I might have the courage to show up next year. Or I'll still invent some silly reasons to avoid confrontation, which is ultimately more likely.

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