11.03.2012

Socially awkward Susie

I met a guy last night that actually pronounced "America" as "MURRICA," and he wasn't trying to be funny.  Oh Indiana, you so silly.

So I've been on this quest to be more open to new friendships and use more energy in my current friendships because I'm afraid of no one coming to my funeral at some point, remember?  I've received many wonderful messages from my lovely readers (all eleven of you) -- some of you are in the same boat as I am, and some of you had some great advice that I plan to follow.  Some of that advice included joining clubs and being more active in the community, and I think that's an awesome idea.  I love to volunteer but haven't done it much since high school (we actually had a volunteering club in high school called S.T.R.I.V.E. -- "Students Teaching and Reaching In Volunteering Efforts"... kind of a stretch, I realize, but maybe someone REALLY wanted to call it S.T.R.I.V.E.).

My sister-in-law, for her birthday a couple years ago, did not ask for gifts but instead organized a Habitat for Humanity day where many of her friends and family painted a house in Franklin(?), Indiana.  I should be able to remember if it was Franklin, since that's where David was born, but whatevs.  I asked her at one point during the day what made her think of doing this, as it was a really cool birthday idea, and she shrugged and said, "I don't need any more 'things,' but other people do."

Maybe I'll do that for my birthday next year.  It doesn't even bother me that Habitat for Humanity is really a Christian ministry.  It used to, in my more militant days, bother me that organizations like that (and Alcoholics Anonymous, the larger organizations that do AIDS research, etc.) were religion-based, but then I was like, "dafuq, they help people," and I got over it.

Anyway, on to what I actually wanted to post about:  last night.

I discovered that, after years of not really trying to make friends, I may be completely socially inept.  Like a muscle that has atrophied after years of negligence, I have no idea how to talk to people.

I was at Kate's going away "party" (I put "party" in quotes because only a sadistic bastard like Kate would party at the thought of moving away) at a bar last night, and once my co-workers all left, I sat at the bar and waited for a cab, since David took the car home when he left pretty early on.

Last night, before I let my nerd flag fly

I decided to try to make friends, so I started talking to these guys next to me.  I'd noticed that they'd been kind of whispering to each other and... actually, to be honest, they seemed like they were a couple.  They said they were students, and I asked about that, and only one of them really talked to me, but he seemed uncomfortable most of the time.  So I stopped and watched the TV behind the bar instead, but right as I did that, the guy that hadn't been as social was all "bye" and then did that little pinched face that says "wow, you are reeeeally uncool."

So they left.  Apparently I was keeping them from something.  The bartender actually walked over to me when they left and said, "Don't take it personally.  I think they're a couple."  I wasn't trying to hook up with either of them, so that isn't what I would take personally -- it's that I was trying to just have a conversation with both of them, and that was some major uncoolness apparently.  Whatever.

But earlier in the night, I was talking to the wife of a co-worker about making friends.  She said that she, too, has a hard time finding people to hang out with and that she and her husband are constantly on the lookout for friends.

So what happens to me?  Socially retarded explosion.

"YOU GUYS SHOULD COME OVER SOMETIME!!  I can cook!  And we might have a badminton set in a closet somewhere!  AND WE HAVE A FIREPIT IN THE BACKYARD!!" I screamed at her, as her eyes got wider and wider.  And then she meekly replied, "Oh... okay."

Anyone seen the episode of How I Met Your Mother that describes how Lily and Marshall try way too hard at their dinner parties?  Yeah... I turned into the creepy "try the gouda!!!!!!" guy.

16 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, the Marshall moment. Classic. Hey, it's the effort that counts! And a fire pit is totally appealing, good advertising.

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    1. I thought so too! Our firepit is totally badass, and we've got these 10-ft-tall bushes that surround that same patio, so it's more comfortable and private when you have friends over and people are drinking/smoking.

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  2. I don't have friends either. Except, of course, you. So I don't think I can help with this problem. :(

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  3. I'm the same way. The only adults I actually speak to are the parents of my kids' friends. You'd think that that somehow puts us on even ground, but I still have no idea how to be like "let's totally gripe about our kids, husbands, exes, etc over coffee some time." I just want to talk to someone over the age of 10 darn it! It shouldn't be this hard! :)

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    1. Maybe say it just like that, exactly what you put in quotes. I don't have kids, so I don't know what that's like, but I do know what it's like to find it difficult to read people. What have you got to lose? Might make things awkward if it doesn't go well, I guess.

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  4. In general, it seems that people are either interested in meeting new people or not. There's probably a spectrum of interest, but I think most people are on one end or the other.

    Further, I think the vast majority of people are uninterested in meeting new people. When we're younger, its easy to simply be friends with the people we know from school or our other activities. When we're older, its easy to simply be friends with the people we've known since we were younger or, in rarer cases, people we know through work or more recent activities.

    It's generally only when one moves to a new job or city and becomes disconnected from the past that someone decides they wants more friends.

    So, there's the disconnect of urgency. The vast majority of the people you meet simply aren't interested in meeting a stranger. This is the midwest, so they are likely to be happy to be friendly in passing, but they're not looking for an invite to a bbq.

    Further, although there are things one can do to encourage friendship, either by creating more chances to meet people or by being friendly, generally, it should flow naturally. Friendships, like all relationships are paradoxical -- they are best when you don't try, yet they take effort to maintain.

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    1. Thank you -- what a thoughtful response. I totally agree, though I can't relate to moving to a new city... I've been here my whole life; in fact, I live about a half mile away from where I grew up (and down the street from the hospital in which I was born).

      I don't know why I feel the sense of urgency now. I feel like I missed a train of some sort.

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  5. I know the feeling. It seemed like, for most of my life I could just go up to people, and talk to them, and we've have a good old chat. And then there came a point a few years ago, when all of a sudden that didn't seem to be socially acceptable anymore. Which is quite sad.

    As you say you like volunteering, have you considered joining a group and doing it on a regular basis? Or do you have any interest in any kind of sports that you could take up?

    I moved to a new city a couple of years ago, and started volunteering and going to a martial arts class. I don't do either of those things any more, but almost my entire social circle is made up of people who I met doing those things.

    I think we were all there primarily to meet new people as hardly anyone is still involved in the volunteering or training anymore.

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    1. That's a good point about a volunteering group. I'll check today to see if there is one in my area. I'd left a message with Habitat a couple years ago about volunteering, but they never really got back to me.

      I play softball with my company team, but of course I already know the other players from work. I tagged along to a billiards league for a while (didn't play, just watched), and I met some people there, but they were mostly guys. The only other thing about joining a sports team like that is that it costs money. I was hoping to avoid that part. ;) At least with volunteering, you don't have to pay, I'm assuming.

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    1. That makes so much sense. What a great comparison -- I think I'm the same way.

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  7. Bar patrons are a tough crowd in the "getting to know you" business. People are there either to get laid or drunk (or both in no particular order), and are really not interested in talking about anything other than what's led them to drink or about their game plan to score.
    Don't get discouraged when your invites fall flat. My reachings out have definitely left me in an awkward turtle fog before. I leave kicking myself for being such a doofus. But really, you've done nothing wrong. You've been warm and sincere, and if people are turned off by that, it's not your failing - it's theirs.

    I read this a while back: http://www.succeedsocially.com/sociallife

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    1. Thanks, Amie. And I've got plans with you now, so I'm happy about that and looking forward to it! People need to use the phrase "awkward turtle fog" more often.

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  8. That's me all over. The last time I tried talking to a complete stranger was in college. I thought I was being witty and charming but despite my best efforts all I got were one word answers to questions for three minutes. He may as well have been screaming "You suck! I don't want to talk to you!".

    After that I just gave up entirely. I would love to make new friends, but it seems to me that people in my age group (late 20's) just aren't looking for friends. Plus they're all having babies right now, so making a friend could also mean dealing with gross baby stuff.

    Whatever happened to the good old days in school where you could make a friend if you shared your sparkly gel pens?

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