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Weekend Assignment: Merry Meetings

May 11, 2010

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?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Lua permalink
    May 11, 2010 8:55 am

    I know what you mean when you say “I was in total social shut-down mode.” Trying to act social in times like that is simply torture for yourself and not quiet picnic-at-the-beach for the people around you.
    I don’t know why but a lot of writers I know has this “social shut-downs” pretty often, perhaps we grow too comfortable in our solitude?
    At times like that I have to confess that I use my best friend as a social crutch, she is pretty good at handling me 🙂

    • May 11, 2010 9:09 am

      Yeah, like I said, it’s an old joke about writers, basically that we’re an introverted lot. The thing is… I at least know how to act extroverted when needed, but for some reason I completely failed to in the example I provided. I realize it was especially unfair to my wife, since these were people I knew from class, but whom she had never even met. In retrospect it was really and particularly unfair of me.

  2. May 11, 2010 10:51 am

    That sounds very familiar. I am also an introvert (as I suspect, as are most writers).

    I do have a couple of friends from work I do get together with on rare occasions. Every once in a while the whole group will go out for a drink, or for lunch, and I make a point to go. It’s my effort to be social since these events are not frequent. Thankfully we’re mostly all pretty geeky so our temperaments match.

    I make friends slowly, but those I make I tend to keep and I still hang out with a core group of friends from elementary and high school. Only a couple have moved away so far.

    The worst occasions for me are when I don’t know anyone. When thrown into a networking situation, a conference, or any event that requires mingling and talking to strangers gives me huge anxieties. Some day’s I can fake it, and turn the fake extrovert on, but it requires more energy than I sometimes have.

    • May 11, 2010 11:10 am

      I hear you. It’s the large groups of people I don’t know – in which I’m expected to schmooze and mingle – that I usually seize up. Mix in a healthy dose of acquaintances and it’s not much better. Small groups of close freinds – in that situation I could be mistaken for an extrovert instead of an introvert. In fact, I have been thusly mistaken in the past (and I’ve watched my “Myers-Briggs” Introvert-Extrovert type move up and down over time, depending on my mood when I take the test, no matter that the Myers-Briggs gods have commanded that your scores can never change over your lifetime).

      On the other hand, I’m a reasonably good actor… and if I can turn that mode on, I find that the nervousness gives me energy for my performance. But, really, acting is not an interactive experience. I guess it’s harder to act when the audience is acting back.

  3. May 14, 2010 9:32 am

    Isn’t one good thing about facebook etc. that you can keep in touch with friends that left? I do that, and just from reading their status updates, I feel that they’re still part of my life in some way. I think that probably gives me more confidence to make new friends too. This is something I need because if I rely solely on my husband I do treat like a crutch, but a very badly treated crutch, and that’s no fun for anyone. But also, I did lose a great bunch of work colleagues in the last couple of years, which makes work socialising more sporadic and not as fulfilling as it used to be. But I’m probably not an introvert!

    • May 14, 2010 9:43 am

      Yeah, I’m connected to lots of people on Facebook but, frankly, reading their status updates doesn’t fulfill the same kind of social need as, well, seeing them, face-to-face – at least not for me. What Facebook does for me is gives me a social safety net to where I don’t completely lose track of them and if, by chance, we’re ever in the same zip code again, I would feel more comfortable suggesting a face-to-face and actually meeting up again (as opposed to being in the same zip code and not even knowing it!)

      That use of facebook came out when Dear Wife and I planned a trip to Ireland, and we used Facebook to reconnect with an old friend of ours who lived in Ireland and actually had a chance to meet up and visit with her.

  4. May 19, 2010 12:31 am

    A lot of this resonates with me; I’m not big on large parties with casual acquaintances, either. Historically I’ve never really had much in common with co-workers, and many of my interactions take place at my church. Where we part company is my husband flat out will not socialize, so I go alone or not at all.

    That said, it’s probably better for us as introverts to at least act as if we’re comfortable in public, at least once in a while, rather than cocooning too much!

    Karen

    • May 19, 2010 9:03 am

      Yeah, it’s good for us. All humans, even us introverts, need some level of human interaction. Me, I really enjoy human interaction. I just also like it to be in carefully controlled circumstances (i.e. not a too-massive party).

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