Whew, y'all. So much has happened since Christmas, where do I start?
Let's see. Still not talking to racist grandparents, but I'm kinda ok with that for now. Still not talking to brother, but again, kinda ok with that one too. Graduation is a week away. DEFINITELY ok with that one. Hmm, feels like I'm forgetting something...
Ah yes, Shon Harris, the Middle-Aged Married Mormon Cliche. Welp. I wrote a whole blog post about what a scumbag he is and how he misled me for five, YES FIVE, months. How he claimed to be a champion of equality, a level-headed progressive in touch with his "feminine side," a single dude who respected and admired strong, smart women. A dude who wanted to be with me. The reality? He's just another Middle-Aged Married Mormon cliche looking for a side piece on the internet. SAD!
But that dude doesn't deserve an entire blog post, especially not after I spoke with his lovely wife...
Anyway, what I really want to talk about is a topic that keeps biting me in the ass over and over - this idea that I am somehow a social, outgoing person who enjoys spending copious amounts of time in the presence of others. Seems this shit won't stop following me around and honestly, I kinda don't know what to do about it.
See, two days ago a woman I know from Twitter and have met *very* briefly in real life tagged me in a post which suggested I might be a person in Boise to follow. On the one hand I'm flattered that she tagged me - SHE LIKES ME! It's always nice to be liked! But on the other hand, oh dear god, now she's exposed me to a whole bunch of people I don't know and who live in my city and fuck my city is very small and I might actually have to see them in real life or what if I run in to them at the bar and they recognize me and... You see where this is going.
For the past two days I have been terrorized. My Twitter mentions went up like 400%. I have had something like 1,000 notifications. The thread convos have touched on inane things like drinking, what to do for fun in Boise, and shit! my kid broke his thumb, etc. Totally normal topics that normal people talk about with other normal people in their normal lives. So what's my fucking problem? I don't know, but it's certainly not new.
At age five I was fucking terrified to start kindergarten. I remember clinging to my mom so tightly, hoping that if I just cried hard enough she'd take me home and the whole business could be over. I made one friend that year, Melissa Palmer, and I stuck to her like white on rice.
At age 12 I was fucking terrified to start junior high. How the hell was I supposed to navigate all those new social situations with people I didn't know while also trying to remember my class schedule and locker combo and teachers' names, and and and?? That year I made friends with a girl named Tiffany Watkins. She was entirely too cool for me and I spent every day of our friendship wondering why she even liked me.
At age 16 I was terrified to start my first job, even though half of my sophomore class applied for and was hired to work with me. It's not like I didn't already know everyone, it's just that this was a new setting to navigate and that filled me with so much anxiety I almost skipped orientation. That first year a girl named Stephanie McCallum forced me to be her friend. She was tall and beautiful and listened to a lot of shitty rap music. We were polar opposites, but she was witty and we had a similar sense of humor. She was my best friend throughout high school (and then some).
At age 19 I was fucking terrified to start college. I holed up in my dorm room for the first two weeks until Lisa Fucking O'Rourke knocked on my door and dragged me to a showing of The Wizard of Oz + Dark Side of the Moon (speaking of cliches). That year I managed to make friends with my suite-mates, but I never quite got the hang of making friends in my classes. It was a rough year, both emotionally and academically.
Somehow I managed to make it through college without making one single friend in any of my classes. Sure, I have friends I made while I was in college, but most of them were friendships forced on me by circumstance. That's not to say I don't love those friendships (Dawn, Vivi, Anji, Melissa!), but it would be wrong to say I *made* those friends. Mostly they were friends of friends who inexplicably picked me; I almost never picked them.
At age 28 I was terrified to move halfway across the world and start a new job in Korea. For three weeks I worked in an office where almost no one remembered my name because I almost never spoke to anyone other than my students. All that changed when I fell down the stairs and broke my face wide open. Nothing leaves a mark on your coworkers quite like a bloodied, wailing woman in the stairwell. When I came home from the hospital that night, Aura and Justin, Tim and Erica and Amanda were waiting to take me out drinking. That first year I made actual, real friends. Men and women with whom I laughed and cried and bitched. I think it might have been the first time I was part of a group of friends. Admittedly, I always felt like I was dancing on the periphery and I almost NEVER initiated, but we were all so close that it *almost* didn't matter. They were my friends and I was theirs.
I have so many more stories of me standing on the sidelines at parties or family dinners or work meetings feeling anxious and weird. I have skipped weddings and going away parties and birthday celebrations because I just couldn't find it in myself to socialize. I even toyed with the idea of skipping my own cohort graduation fiesta next weekend because the thought of mingling with a whole bunch of strangers makes me want to vomit. I have to attend four weddings this summer. This also kind of makes me want to vomit. One of them is tomorrow and I stocked up on Tylenol PM just so I can get some sleep tonight. I don't know why I'm like this. I don't know why people make me feel anxious and weird. But they do.
But that's not the whole story. Feeling anxious and weird around people is not really the problem.
THE PROBLEM is that for some reason, people (ALL the people) put me into the "fun, outgoing" category. That category comes with expectations - not just that you will attend all the social things, but that you actually *like* it. It always comes as a shock to acquaintances, especially classmates and new dudes I might be dating, that I do not, in fact, like doing this shit. Pat was especially caught off guard. He assumed because I was fun and outgoing one-on-one with him, that I had enough leftover in my reserves for others. Stephanie also made this mistake, as have many of my other girlfriends (although, to their credit, they usually come around much easier than the dudes and the ones who GET IT really GET IT). Scumbag Shon even told me, "People are your jam, Mindy." I literally fell off the bed laughing at this comment. It was just so off-base. People are decidedly *not* my jam. I think my Twitter friend may have also assumed I was a "the more, the merrier" type when she tagged me in that thread.
(Which, side note, was kind of a wake-up call for me, too. Seems I'm just as antisocial on the internets as I am in real life. Yay!)
So where do people get this idea that I might want to spend any of my free time socializing in large groups? And to be clear here, it's not just strangers. I don't really like to do *any* socializing with a group of more than, say, five people I know really well.
I like people. I like spending time with people. I like to laugh and joke and learn what makes people tick. I like thoughtful conversation and dirty conversation and trivial conversation. I like learning about others. And this is where the mismatch happens. I like all of these things and actually, I'm fairly good at it. (The socializing one-on-one, that is.) That's where others get this idea that I'm outgoing and social - that PEOPLE ARE MY JAM! They assume that because I do it well one-on-one, that surely those skills translate. BUT THEY DO NOT. When I'm forced to get to know someone quickly, or in a group, or surrounded by people I don't know it presents a huge problem for me. I clam up, I don't know what to say or who to say it to, and eventually I end up playing with the dog or the kid because they are known quantities.
(Which, again, side note, I am soooo sick of those memes about finding the dog at the party. That shit is real for some of us. Jesus.)
So what's a girl to do?
Figure out how to untag myself from that goddamn Twitter thread is step one.