Struggles of an Introvert

I don’t remember being introverted when I was younger. If asked, I would label Little Rachel quite outgoing. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more and more shy. This did not make things like starting college and new jobs easy, since I was way too shy to actually talk to anyone. It actually amazes me that I have friends. I have no idea how I made them, since I certainly never had the courage to go up to anyone.

Today was the perfect example of my introvertedness. My friend Alex and I got together for lunch to talk about a script we both love, and I was nothing but excited for the meeting. It was a great time and we had a really awesome discussion and all was well. Then tonight, there was a work party. I considered and reconsidered and re-reconsidered not going. I mean, who did I really know? Sure, I’ve met a few people, but I’ve met them under the pretenses of working with them, which doesn’t leave much opportunity for socializing. And worse, a good seven of those people had seen me crying, which doesn’t exactly scream “I’M REALLY COOL AND YOU WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH ME!”

But I felt it was my duty as a new employee to go. You can skip all the others if you go to this one, I consoled myself as I grudgingly packed up my purse. But I wouldn’t go without a fight; I slipped a book in there. I mean, even if I was reading, I’d still technically be at the party.

My family always jokes that no matter how late we try to be, we’re always the first ones at a gathering. This was pretty much the case tonight. I even waited outside for twenty minutes to make sure I wasn’t sitting by myself and when I went inside, there was only one person there. I decided to at least make an effort and sat near her, and she immediately said hello. How do people do that? I marveled as she easily asked me questions while I had to force out my answers and then the requisite”And you?”s. I’m not a rude person; I am actually interested in the people I talk to. But somehow, whenever I am forced to make introductory talk, my mind goes blank and everything I want to say sounds too stupid to pass my lips. So I just don’t say anything. Sadly, this makes the general population view me as a snob when I’m really not.

When more people started to arrive, the girl (Amber) and I went out onto the decks to check them out, since neither of us had ever been. Again, she kept being really friendly and talking to me, but I couldn’t seem to manage more than smiles and weak “Ha”s and anything longer than a word petered out until I was basically talking under my breath. And this was my behavior around a girl; around the male sex, I am basically a mute.

I don’t know why this happens. Around my friends- boys and girls- I am very talkative and friendly and have many things to say, but I can’t even fathom how they give me a chance to eventually respond like that, since I’m so silent when I first meet them.

Amber and I went to the lower deck where some people were hanging out and sat with one of our co-workers, John. Amber started talking to him and I was able to slip in a few responses of my own, but then she left to get food. I didn’t want to seem like I was following her, so I stayed outside with John. As he lit his cigarette, I told him how I had been looking for a lighter today so I could use it to light customers’ birthday candles but how I couldn’t find anything smaller than a pack of seven. Shut up, shut up, this is a stupid story and he doesn’t care, my mind screamed at me the whole time.

Eventually I went inside and got some food. Amber’s table was filled, so I sat at the other end of the table that one of my trainers was sitting at. He said hi, and introduced me to the other guy that was sitting there, who asked me what my story was. This tends to be the way people get to know you at this job- “What’s your story?”- and I never know how to answer that. It’s almost as bad as “describe yourself in three words.” Every time I’ve been asked this question, I just go, “Um, uh, I- uh… just graduated.” Oh really? How interesting.  -_-  I felt like I had to have been at the party for at least two and a half hours, but when I checked my phone, it was barely an hour.

People wandered to and from our table, sometimes saying something to me, sometimes not. Every time the former happened, I would have a little panic spasm and be like, Say something funny! No, God, never mind, don’t try that, just say something.

It was of great interest to many people there who was drinking and who wasn’t. I was actually kind of surprised; I just assumed everyone of age would be drinking (they surprisingly try to restrict the underage drinking), but a few people older than me asked if I was drinking and then seemed okay with telling me they weren’t either. This is something I pretty much never encountered at college. Then there were the instances when someone would note my Dr. Pepper and go, “So when do you turn twenty-one?” to which I would reply, “A year and a half ago.” But the nice thing was, I didn’t feel like I was unwittingly Making a Statement, as I generally do in these kinds of situations.Of course, it’s probably for the best that I don’t drink, since I feel so awkward at parties that I tend to guzzle whatever liquid is in my hands until I feel nauseous- and then I go get some more so my hands aren’t empty. If I drank, I would be wasted five minutes in.

I did get into a nice conversation with one of the captains, who is very nice. I still had to force myself to reciprocate questions, but it wasn’t so bad, even if I did realize halfway through our conversation that I was sitting on both of my feet like a ten year-old. As he left to refill the soda supply, he said, “Don’t sit here all night, okay? Go and mingle.”

But I don’t really know how to mingle. Instead, I sat where I was and wrote a little bit. Some people came by and amiably remarked at how small my handwriting was. I forced a laugh and a nod. Eventually I did get up, but the closest I got to mingling was watching the games of Beer Pong that were going on and and returning a hello and a wave.

Around two hours in, I went downstairs under the pretense of going to the bathroom… which I did right before I snuck out. I don’t understand it- people were being perfectly nice to me and no one was drunk and I wasn’t being judged for not drinking, but I was still so uncomfortable. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do parties…

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On a shockingly social note, I think this blog is set up so anyone can leave me comments, whether you have a WordPress account or not. You totally should. I love comments! 🙂

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Emily Hagan
    Jun 11, 2012 @ 23:00:59

    I was going to leave some really awesome comment about how I’m the same way and clung to whoever I already knew at a party, but I got called away to do something for my mom and completely forget what I wanted to say. On another note, you’re seriously a fantastic blogger. I read around 30 blogs on a regular basis (as of like last week, but still) and yours is one of the few that stands out. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Brigid
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 09:34:16

    Oh my goodness, this is me…… always arriving early, keeping a book in my bag all the time, being continuously amazed that my college friends managed to like me, the interior monologue when I’m talking to other people…..this is uncanny.

    Reply

  3. MOM
    Jun 12, 2012 @ 12:07:36

    But now that you got the first awkward work party out of the way, the next one will be easier, since probably the same group will be there…..

    Reply

  4. Trackback: Asking for Help « "Explore. Dream. Discover."

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