Now that I’m back, I thought I’d tackle the most recent Weekend Assignment, which asks the question: “Where do you go most often for face time with friends and acquaintances?”
An interesting question for me. It’s an old joke that writing is a solitary career and writers a solitary lot. But while I’m a writer by self-identification, I’m not a writer by career. I don’t (yet) get paid to do this stuff. But that’s neither here nor there. It remains that I am, in fact, a bit of an introvert – but I happen to like interacting with close friends. It’s the acquaintances that I sometimes have a bit of trouble with, sometimes.
So, a direct answer to the question goes thus: I have friends and some acquaintances that I see on a weekly basis at Church. I have some acquaintances and a few friends that I occassionally see in class at school (depending on whether we end up in the same classes). That’s a meeting place that will eventually come to an end. But the vast majority of my real and true friends – the people around whom I feel most comfortable, and with whom I can truly be myself – have scattered to the four winds, and, sadly, in many cases we’ve lost touch. In a very few cases we get to hang out together on occassion. And there remains only one whom I get to see pretty much every day: my Dear Wife. We do most of our face time at home, or sometimes on a date night together.
What I’ve come to realize, recently, is that by having Dear Wife around – the closest of all my close friends – I sometimes end up treating her like a crutch. That’s not fair for her, nor good for me. In particular, I was thinking back to an event held for classmates to which our spouses and significant others were invited. Of course, I brought Dear Wife. There were lots of acquaintances, and maybe a few friends from class at the event. But I had my “crutch”, and I was in total social shut-down mode. I let my introverted nature get the better of me, and my interactions with classmates were shallow and sometimes perfunctory, and I couldn’t wait to escape. Dear Wife had a terrible time that evening.
When I thought back to that evening, I wondered at myself. In High School, I spent time during my senior year in the Drama club learning to act. I enjoyed it, and no matter that I was intimidated by the prospect of performing before an audience of people I didn’t know or barely knew, I got a certain rush from being on stage. So, I knew I had the ability, in my history, to “act” my way through an audience or crowd, no matter how uncomfortable it made me feel. Why couldn’t I bring that skill to bear in this sort of situation? I reasoned that I must have unfairly treated Dear Wife as a social crutch.
So anyway, huge social parties where there are large numbers of acquaintances: not my thing. I prefer smaller, more intimate parties, generally. Which isn’t to say I can’t act my way through a larger social setting, I just need to man up and stop using Dear Wife as a crutch.
The final place where I get to spend face time with friends: game nights (and occassionally barbecues). We get to do these periodically, whether at our house or a friend’s house, whether we play a little Wii or a cool Board Game. These are probably some of my favorite ways of being social. Incidentally, Dear Wife and I happen to do these most frequently with friends from Church, which is where the bulk of the rest of my social face-time is spent (either at Church, or at Church-sponsored activities). I suppose that in the future, post-MBA, there will be more face time spent both at Church-sponsored activities and at Game Nights. More than that, though, there will be more spent at home, because by then I’ll have a one-year-old-and-growing B.T. who will want and deserve more of my attention if he’s to grow healthy and well-adjusted.
Now, for extra credit: Do you ever hang out with coworkers after hours?
Yes, but rarely. I’ve been to three, maybe four happy hours in the past couple years with coworkers. But, the thing is, I married Dear Wife because I love her and enjoy spending time with her, whereas I work an hour away from home, and I don’t love any of my coworkers and certainly wouldn’t marry any of them. So, I prefer to spend time at home with Dear Wife over time watching my coworkers get drunk while I nurse a root beer (I don’t drink alcohol). Go figure.
Incidentally, I’d love to work in a place where I felt more of a shared connection with my coworkers, but with my current caste of coworkers we’re… idealogically and tempermentally on different wavelengths. I just don’t have anything in common with them, which, frankly, is sad.
So, how about you?