I went out with my soon-to-be-ex-coworker Brian on Friday to celebrate his new job. Also out were my other coworker Hilary, her boyfriend Sean, Brian’s fiancee Lyn, and his friend Dave (I think that was his name….). I don’t go out often for a couple of reasons:
1) I dislike alcohol. I had three drinks (hard liquor, of course, because I hate beer) and, while I wasn’t hung over the next day, I definitely felt that I’d put some poison in my body; and
2) It’s not my scene. I’m a loner. While I like chatting with my friends/acquaintances, I don’t enjoy making small talk with strangers (though, to be fair, you’ll never make new friends if you don’t.)
I overcame my reservations because Brian GOT A NEW JOB(!!!!) and that was something worth celebrating. His escape from the hell-hole of AAA meant more than my desire to stay in and read rather than drive 25 minutes in the storm to the bar. So I’m there, chatting with Lyn and Hilary, trying not to gag on my super sweet yet somehow not sweet enough to mask the alcohol drinks, when Brian’s friend decides to start playing 20 questions.
Now, if you know me, you know that I’m a VERY private person. I have a lot of casual acquaintances/friends, but many of those are superficial relationships based on shared circumstances – same job, same class, things like that, and they’ll likely fade once we no longer share that trait. I let very few people in, even when it comes to what some would consider relatively mundane things. So he’s asking me about my taste in music and totally not paying attention to the verbal/non-verbal cues of warning that I’m sending. I told him a couple radio stations I listen to, then he started asking what I sing along to in the car. I shrugged and told him that it depended on my mood. He kept pressing and pressing and finally I just responded with “You ask a lot of questions, you know?” Him: “You don’t talk much, you know?”. Me: “I know. That’s how I am, Brian gets it.” Brian, nodding: “Yep, we’ve got a good understanding going on.” Him: “So, what, do you just, like, hate people?” Bingo.
Okay, ‘hate’ is a little strong. Plenty of people are perfectly nice, and I have no problems getting to know coworkers, classmates, or friends of friends, but when it comes to complete strangers, I’m way more stand-offish. I have little patience for ignorance and an inexplicable distaste for flattery (which means that when I guy I have absolutely no connection with tells me I look good, he’s more likely to be met with stoney silence than a giddy smile -depending on his looks, of course…- I know, it doesn’t make any sense – who hates compliments?). It takes a while to get me out of my shell and, unfortunately, many guy strangers don’t stand a chance (I’m more lenient with girls, because 99% of the time I don’t have to worry about them just wanting to have sex).
I used to hate this about me, but now I’m learning to accept that it’s just who I am. I know I’ll need to put myself out there more when I go back to grad school so I can network with professors and classmates and find a new circle, but I no longer feel the pressure to go out and socialize with complete strangers and pretend like I love going out bar hopping when I don’t (though take me to a dance club any night…if you can find one in beer-happy STL). Real life isn’t like the movies – the chances that you’re going to randomly run into your soulmate in the bookstore or on the train or in the bar are slim-to-nil. Much better to just be yourself and let it happen if it’s gonna happen. And if it doesn’t, well, who needs a man anyway 🙂