So, I just got back from another attempt to “get involved” in the burner community, by dint of attending a post-burn beach party. To my credit, I went — I got my shit together, and went (and Alki beach on a sunny day is a fucking nightmare, so kudos to me for that).
When I got there, I saw literally nobody I knew, save one person — and she was deep in conversation and didn’t seem interested in talking. Other than her, I mostly saw kids, hard drinkers, and sparkle ponies; I’m none of the above. So, after orbiting a couple of times to make sure there was nobody there I knew, I left.
As I was leaving, I was struggling very hard not to beat myself up. This felt like a replay from so many previous scenes in my life, where I’d go to a somewhat intimidating social event, only to flee in terror when it felt like I knew nobody. How could I be so cowardly? How could I be so pathetic, that I couldn’t even go to a party?!
But I thought about it a bit. This is probably one of the most high stress social situations imaginable — going, by yourself, to a party full of strangers. Not only do you not know anyone, but hey — it’s a party! You’re expected to blend in, have fun, paaaarty! That’s just insane. Most adults cope with that by, well, by getting drunk. Let’s be honest — the ones who stay in a situation like that either know someone or multiple someones, or they get loaded. Drinking isn’t an option for me, and I knew nobody.
It’s all well and good to say “well, just go up and start talking to someone!” But… it doesn’t work like that. People actively exclude strangers from intimate conversations. It’s just… not that simple (unless, again, you’re drunk).
So, I’ve been reframing the event in my mind. Yes, I left, but it’s very understandable given the nearly impossible social situation I’d put myself in. Almost anyone would be out of sorts. I probably should be very hesitant to attend events invited by a particular individual or crowd, as they seem to be mostly “party hardy” events (which I can’t do sober, and anyway once you’re past about 25, “party hardy” is a little… let’s just say, unflattering…)
If I’m going to a big social event, I should try to make sure I have a date or a wingman or something (unless I know multiple people at the event). It’s so much easier to “break into” a social situation as a team, as opposed to solo.
And finally, I should walk before I run. The Monday potlucks are much more my speed than wild parties (they always have been, frankly). I’d much rather hang out with 10-20 friends than 100-200 complete strangers.
So rather than see this as a failure, I’m reframing it as a useful lesson. Next time will be better!
At least now I have a whole bunch of mini-brownies to bring to the potluck on Monday 😉