Thoughts on… socialising

Tonight I went out for a drink with some of the folks from work as it was one girl’s birthday. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t really want to go, for reasons that will become apparent, but I thought I’d make the effort and since they were my colleagues I actually knew almost everyone there so it didn’t seem so bad.

So, what happened? I sat there silent for most of the time and drank a glass of milk.

Whenever I go to these social gatherings, it always ends up like that. I’m not being ignorant and it doesn’t mean I don’t like the people or don’t want to be there, I’m just terrible at social events, so experience has made me dislike going to them.

The one guy offered me a drink, but since I don’t drink alcohol, I decided I’d have a glass of milk. I do like milk and secretly I know it does make me look a bit odd having milk in a bar, so I enjoy it. Although it did provide a bit of a talking point, with a few people pointing it out, I do think I should leave off the milk in bars in future, as it probably isn’t helping my image and is instead making me look weirder.

When it came to the conversation, they were all talking about cars (which I have absolutely no interest in), holidays and occasionally work. There were a lot of in-jokes and references that I didn’t get, but to be honest I had nothing to contribute to the conversation so I didn’t say anything. There was one point when they were talking about decapitation (long story) where I thought I could mention the bone house in Austria, I could show them a photo I took of it, but by the time I found the photo the conversation had moved on so I didn’t bother. I didn’t really want to speak before I’d shown them the photo, as my voice is quiet and it was noisy in there, so it would have been hard for me to get any attention. I had spoken before and had to repeat myself because they couldn’t hear me. I don’t know why but my voice goes much quieter in situations like this – ironic really.

But that’s not to say that I didn’t want to contribute to the conversation. Some of the time I sat trying to think of things I could say. This probably looked weird to the others as I was sitting staring at a bare wall with heavy concentration. But I genuinely couldn’t think of anything to say. I didn’t want to know anything from them, so I didn’t have anything to ask. I didn’t have anything particularly new or interesting to say that was relevant to the conversation, so I didn’t speak.

Thing is, I like to think I am an interesting person. I do a lot and I potentially have a lot to talk about. But it’s starting conversations which I find incredibly difficult. Say, for example I wanted to mention that I’d recently been promoted to Assistant Editor of The Gallifrey Times. I couldn’t just sit there and say “By the way, I’ve recently been promoted to Assistant Editor of The Gallfirey Times” because it’d just sound random or like I was trying to show off. I could have spoken about work, but I don’t want to be thought of as someone who only talks about work. That’s probably worse than not speaking at all.

As a rule, I only usually speak for about three reasons in social situations. Firstly, if I want to know something. Secondly, if I have something interesting to say that I think they should know. Thirdly, if I can get a laugh. There are exceptions, obviously, but those are generally the main reasons I speak. Saying things like “It’s noisy in here” just seems pointless to me; they already know that, so it’s just stating the obvious and making me seem uninteresting. This is commonly known as small talk. I hate small talk. It’s pointless and often makes you sound stupid. I have been making an effort to attempt small talk recently, but every time I do, I’m ashamed of myself afterwards for saying something so pointless.

I think maybe I should start preparing beforehand when I go to these things. Like make cue cards or notes on my phone about things I can talk about or ask them. It really doesn’t look good when I’m just sitting there silent for an hour. I know full well that I look ignorant or weird, and afterwards I think about things I could have said and wish I had.

After a while I told them I had to leave because I had to go to karate that evening. They asked a bit about it, which was nice and made me realise I could have said something earlier like “I can’t stop long because I have to go to karate” which would have instigated a conversation. See, I do know how to start conversations… just not at the right time! I always realise things to say too late.

Anyway, the point of this is so that if anyone reads this they’ll understand why I sit there in the corner being silent at parties and social events. It is something I’d like to work on. I don’t think I’ll ever be the life and soul of the party, but it is something I need to get better at. At one point, one of the girls said to me “You don’t have to stay, you can leave if we’re boring you.” which made me feel bad because they weren’t boring me, but they probably thought that I was bored by my behaviour. So I do want to work on this and make an effort to talk more and at least look like I’m enjoying myself.

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