I used to think I was a social person.
I’ve since realized this isn’t actually true.
Sure, I can communicate well with others. I make friends easily. I’m not too horribly awkward in public situations and don’t even stick my foot in my mouth all that often. I read people’s body language and vocal inflection easily and can manipulate that if necessary. I understand social situations. In high school and college I attended the occasional party and had fun at dances. I went out with friends once in a while, especially after cast parties and stuff.
I thought I was social.
Then my little brother and sister went through high school and college.
They are social. I am not.
It seems like every time I visited my parents Teeny and Fuffy were out playing with some friends. They were going to games or parties or were just over at someone’s house and always playing with a big group of people. After seeing Teeny and Fuffy out doing stuff with friends seemingly all the time I looked back on my life and realized something.
That was not me.
I played during school. I attended my early morning classes and meetings. I stayed after classes for rehearsals. I visited and had a good time with great people through all these things.
I went home. I sat in my room reading by myself. I sat in my room listening to music by myself. I sat in my room doing homework by myself. I sat in my room practicing for voice lessons by myself. I loathed group or partner projects when I had to work with other people outside of school. The parties I went to were usually after something I was attending anyway. It didn’t just go to parties all the time. The dates I went on (until I started dating ODD) were almost exclusively for dances. Even the non-date dances (stake or institute dances and school sock-hops) I usually went to by myself and found friends once I was there. I preferred going shopping by myself. If I was just going to wander around I loved having a friend with me but if I was going someplace to actually buy things I much preferred being by myself.
I had only a few close friends I called to do stuff. Lacey, Valerie, and Jon were it for me. Even so, I didn’t call them all the time (this was back before the days of constant email, mind you) and didn’t see them a whole lot outside of school or church functions. I remember talking to Lacey at the beginning of the school year once and asking what classes she had. For every class she was in she already knew a few other people who would be in it with her or who had arranged to be in it with her. I was floored. People actually did that? It never occurred to me to schedule one or more of my classes with a friend. I just scheduled what I needed then showed up the first day of class and looked around to see if I knew anyone there. Even in college she had classes with friends and played with these people outside of class events. I, on the other hand, lost almost all contact with everyone I knew in high school and only knew what people were up to if I talked to Lacey, Valerie, or Jon. They mentioned seeing so-and-so and I’d ask how so-and-so was. I’ve never been great at keeping in contact with others with very few exceptions. Even now, I get my update on how people are doing from Lacey because she’s good at that sort of thing and actually talks to people.
I didn’t think I became anti-social until I got married because aside from school, work, and church the only person I spent time with was ODD but I’ve come to realize that simply isn’t true. I was a hermit in the making well before I even started dating ODD. Marrying him just sort of finalized it.
Then I became a mother which seems to have put the final nail in the coffin.
I spend most days at home with my kids. I only go out to go shopping or take the kids to the park or someplace. Again, by myself. In California I became friends with Jenny who lived in my building. She started calling me up to go places. What’s this? Going someplace with another adult? It was great for me! Eventually I started calling her to play, too, and even if we were just going to watch a movie at home or something I’d call her and her dh to see if they wanted to come over. It was so nice to have someone that close. Someone I liked spending time with. Someone who just had to come down the hall. Someone who understood I wasn’t good at arranging things by myself and gave me a little help. Unfortunately, when we moved after our third year, we only stayed in contact through blogging and occasional emails. That’s kind of the story of my life.
One day, sometime after I moved to California, I emailed something funny to Kermit. We had become good friends while neighbors in married student housing and had played quite a bit but after our move she was in another state. I didn’t want to lose her completely so I continued to email once in a while. After sending a couple of funny things her way with not much more she emailed me back and wrote, “No! I’m not letting this happen! I’m not going to let our friendship become one of nothing but email forwards!” Really, I don’t forward many emails, but I was shocked to receive such a response. And so touched to see she thought of me as a friend she didn’t want to lose. It was a good wake-up call and I realized I was going to have to put more effort into keeping in touch but really, it is through her efforts that our friendship didn’t just fall to the wayside. We started chatting online and not long after that she introduced me to blogging.
That opened me up to an entirely new world of people! People like me! People who weren’t social. People who don’t love talking on the phone, at least not to more than a few people (for me its Lacey, Kermit, Val, and my mom). People who would rather communicate through email. People who want to be in touch with the outside world but maybe can’t quite figure out how to do it. At least that’s the way I see it.
So while I’m much more happy to inhabit a world where I can “see” people and “talk” to people at my convenience I still live in the real world where my kids need to get out and do things and play with other kids. Peanut seems to follow in ODD’s and my anti-social footsteps (have I mentioned ODD’s more anti-social than I am in some respects?). In preschool the only person she talks about is her teacher, Miss B. If I didn’t already know a couple of kids in our neighborhood were in her class I’d never know because she never talks about them.
The other day when I picked up Peanut from preschool Miss B told me another little girl’s mom wanted to talk to me. I introduced myself and talked to her for a minute. She told me her little girl talked about Peanut all the time and asked if I’d be interested in doing a playdate for Peanut and her little girl. Of course I said yes and how fun that would be. I went on to explain that I’m just not very good at arranging such things. I think that threw her off a little and she said if I didn’t want to or was too busy that was okay. I had to explain, I was definitely interested and had the time, I just suck at the making-it-happen part. After getting our kids in the car she came over again to swap contact info and asked if Peanut ever mentions her little girl. I’m a horrible liar so I had to admit Peanut never has but that she never talks about anybody from school except her teacher so it doesn’t mean anything. I’m not sure it made her feel better.
Anyway, the whole incident got me thinking. Maybe it’s part of my hermit thinking but calling people to arrange playdates is just beyond me most of the time. It’s not that I don’t like playdates, I just don’t think that far ahead or would rather just stay at home and not deal with getting everyone ready to go someplace when we don’t have to. It’s easier to do stuff at home not to mention just how much there is for me to do here. It’s not like we’re sitting around bored all day. I like going out. I just like going out by myself. I still prefer to go shopping by myself. I like going to movies at the theater by myself. I like eating at restaurants by myself. And by “myself” I usually mean myself and my kids but really all by myself is even better.
Yes, I know this is all probably weird but – NEWS FLASH – I am weird. And apparently I’m passing this weirdness on to my children.
So basically I’ve come to the realization that I’m not actually a social person.
I just play one on the internet.