I know I appear to be aloof, or maybe a little stuck up. And I understand you may feel repeatedly disappointed when I come late and leave early—if I bother to come at all.
I swear, I’m not anti-social. In fact, I need socialization. I crave belonging, and I long for friendship, conversation and laughter like anyone else. I just do socialization a little differently than you do.
I don’t mean to clam up when a bunch of partygoers start to raise their voices. But, the loud noises they make to signify having a good time kind of stress me out. Also, people littered kitchens and jostling elbows tend to make my courage wilt and my hands clammy.
When people turn to look at me, beads of sweat start to form on my forehead and my throat dries up like the savannah in summer. I’m sure every pair of eyes in that overpacked room belong to a lovely individual… individually. All together, though, they’re collectively my nightmare.
I still want to be invited. Truly, I do. I just don’t want to have to go. At least not every time. It’s not because I don’t like you. And it’s not because I don’t want to make an effort. It’s because even though I’m thrilled to be included, and I’ll totally regret not going when it’s all over with… I can’t bring myself to get up, get dressed and go somewhere I know I’ll feel uncomfortable.
My “making an effort” is remembering which episode of The Office you’re on so we have something to talk about later, and laughing at all of your jokes in public. You know. Supportive type stuff. My effort is sitting or standing quietly near you in a large group because I feel safest in the pocket of your presence.
I know in passing, I usually look like I’m busy, but really I’m just trying to move fast enough so no one stops me to talk. I don’t have the fine social skill of beginning a conversation. At least not with a stranger. Small talk is something I need to study like a scholar pouring over text books.
I don’t mean to shut down when you talk about shows I’ve never heard of, or games I’d never play. My mind is probably already buzzing with the latest ‘puzzle’ I’m trying to solve; a storm of postulates and conjectures.
What I really want to talk about is how you feel about the present state of culture, or how you’d contrast systematic versus biblical theology. But I’m hesitant to throw you in the deep end for fear my thoughts might drown you… Or worse, bore you.
So, instead I ask about the weather, a sports thing, or whatever, treading lightly around the surface of the deep. I painfully chatter about things I know will garner a good response. Refusing to say something heavy, or probing, only to be met with confusion and incredulity, or straight up disinterest.
Regardless. I promise that I like you. And I’m trying really, really hard. I even like going places with you. It just makes me tired quickly.
I know that I’m not as easy as a party loving external processor, but please don’t give up on me. Please excuse my excuses and pardon my inhibitions. Be patient with me through my sheer terror, and try not to roll your eyes.
I’ll come around eventually.
(Just don’t hold it against me if I don’t stay too long.)