I have definitely come to the conclusion that I am not a people person. Actually that’s misleading; gives the impression it’s something I’ve only just discovered about myself.
It’s ironic, being a writer who doesn’t like people. Or rather, being with people in groups larger than three or four. Anything more than that tends to be “Ooh look at me, socialising. I have lots of friends!” Appearances rather than substance. There’s no intimacy there. No getting-to-know-someone properly. You’re just sharing the same space, rather than sharing anything of yourself.
And that way, people can tick the boxes. “Right, I’ve invited so-and-so; that way she can never say she doesn’t get invited anywhere. And if I make it a big social occasion, I can tick multiple boxes at once. Get a bunch of people off my list of obligations.”
To know you are an obligation rather than desired company, well…
I honestly can’t think of anything I’d rather do with my time less than waste hours with a bunch of people with whom I have little in common, who treat social invitations as a duty discharged until the next rotation of the merry-go-round.
Can I rightfully say I never get invited anywhere? No. I do. They’re just never invitations that don’t fill me with horror. Parties, dinner parties, evenings out, going clubbing, weekend shopping trips, my god, I’d rather play hide the sausage with Pennywise. I’ve even turned down a weekend in Barcelona because fucking hell, if I’m going to get wasted I’d rather be able to get a taxi home to treat my hangover, not an aeroplane.
Art galleries, museums, book shops, country walks, loafing around reading? Now you’re talking.
And all of the above makes me seem ungrateful, or bad-tempered. Possibly both.
And it’s not that. When presented with an invite that fills me with horror, I just want to get out of the situation. And the person thinks I’m anti-social. Maybe I am. Maybe it’s sociophobia. A dislike of socialising? A fear of it? I need to get out of there fast, away from the dangerous situation. I can’t wriggle out of such invites fast enough.
Large gatherings tend to be superficial. “Hello, how are you?” Instantly forgettable. People you’ll never see again, or at least you’re not bothered if you never did.
The more people I’m with, the more energy I feel being sucked out of me. Then I become resentful, and that’s what makes me appear moody. It comes from a need to recharge my batteries, to be left alone.
Here’s a blog post from July 2013, entitled Not shy, just introverted, in which I recommend the book Quiet by Susan Cain, and link to a few articles on introversion.
Good Lord, I know this will sound like the world’s whingiest whinge, but when someone invites me to a ‘thing’ and the thought of accepting makes me wish I had a fucking migraine as an easy excuse for not attending, I wonder, “Do you really know me at all? Why are you inviting me to this people-filled slaughterhouse of social niceties?”
It’s like inviting someone to take a meal of something to which you know they’re allergic, while reasoning, “Oh, they’ll be okay. If they just force themselves to eat it, eventually they’ll feel better.”
No. No they won’t. And no I won’t. If I force myself to attend a social event where I’m expected to be ‘on’ and sparkly and conversational, I won’t eventually get used to it. I’ll end up enucleating myself with a dessert spoon and running through a plate glass window just to distract myself from the mind-numbing tedium of…of…making friends.
Nope. I’d much rather be in very small groups, with other like-minded people who have similar interests. You know, books. Writing. The world’s most prolific serial killers. Not eating establishments and licensed premises where people go solely to lose their inhibitions and very possibly their clothes.
I prefer to write about people, because that way, I’m in control. And if I get tired, it’s much easier to shut down the Chromebook than it is to explain to people why I’m going all taxi home, early bath.