I’m an introverted person. A lot of in-person social activity wears me out, even if it’s with friends. This is true for introverts across the board. For me, sometimes I may come away from socializing with friends with energy, but, generally speaking, if I have a lot of in-person social time, even with friends, I’m worn out.
This past weekend was a busy one for me, every socially intensive. On Saturday I had to get together with the GM who runs the Vampires: The Masquerade game I play to create a new character, then had square dancing that evening. The square dancing was for our club’s ABC dance, where we have people who don’t know how to dance come in and learn the calls (formations/moves/steps) they’ll be dancing throughout the evening. This means it wasn’t just my regular square dance friends, but also people I don’t habitually associate with, so it was socially draining. I came home Saturday night feeling worn out socially. It took me a couple hours to recover before I could go to bed, since my mind was way too active for me to go to sleep right away.
Then, on Sunday, I had church in the morning. I went early, which was an hour walk (the trains weren’t running yet) to a class regarding the recent Episcopal General Convetion, which was held locally this year. After that was service, followed by coffee hour. I was so tired from not sleeping well the night before that when I got home, I promptly took a nap. Then, Sunday evening I had to go to my square dance club’s board meeting, and that was about three hours of socialization.
Needless to say, after two days of super social activity in a row, I needed a break. It wouldn’t have been so wearying yesterday except I’m still getting to know the other parishioners in the church I go to, so that only increases the stress of socialization.
I think, if I was out among people more regularly, such days wouldn’t tire me out so much. That’s one of the reasons why I’m looking forward to getting into school. I may make only superficial (school-hours) friends, but I’ll be socializing more regularly with people in person. I’ve found that, for me, the more I socialize regularly, the better I’m able to handle it overall.
It also helps if I’m attending some other activity with my socialization, usually. For instance, the square dancing. I got involved in that for two reasons: 1) so I could be more physically active; and 2) so I could socialize with people in-person more. The activity gives me something to focus on, and a topic to discuss, which helps me connect with people.
In situations where I’m required to be social without a set topic or event to discuss, I’m more uncomfortable, because going just to be social makes it more stressful on me; I get scared easier, experience more anxiety, and generally curl up in myself more if I’m expected to be social for no reason—and that’s why I generally don’t spend the entire hour at social hour after any church service. I’m required to be just social, and that wears me out because I see people in groups of friendship and I don’t know how to politely interject my own words or approach people who are already chatting with each other. I’m more willing to try if I know someone in the group of people, but I don’t know that many people at the Episcopal church yet, so it’s hard to know where I fit in, and I’m so not naturally a gregarious person with enough confidence to just start talking.
I’m much more conscious nowadays about how I’m behaving, too. I used to cling to people I knew better in social situations, and I know that probably aggravated most of those I clung to. This was not literal clinging, but I tended to pop up in their company more than once over the course of social time, simply because I was far more comfortable with that particular person than I was with anyone else. These days, I try not to do that too much. I usually try to have something specific to say to the person I know, and if I don’t, I stay to listen for a bit, and if I find nothing to say within a minute or two, I wander off. I may return at a later point, but only if I’ve thought of something to say, and I depart after the discussion seems to be over. By no means do I follow them around.
And, even with friends, if I’m in person, I prefer to hang out one-on-one with them. Sunday, I spent about 30-40 minutes hanging out with Sara before the club’s board meeting, and I quite enjoyed it. I also enjoy my grocery shopping days, ’cause I get to hang out with Ross for about an hour or two after I’m done. After such visits as that (especially if there isn’t a group meeting following), I typically feel energized and refreshed, but that’s usually only following one-on-one social periods. And it has to be someone I like and get along with under “normal” (group) circumstances and feel comfortable with for me to feel energized and refreshed following such meetings, because it is quite possible for me to feel drained and exhausted after a one-on-one session with someone I’m not comfortable with.
Basically, for the past several years, I’ve been picking and choosing my social involvements, and doing my best to gradually increase them. I know by how I’ve reacted to what I’ve done recently that I’m ready to get out and do more, but I’m at a loss as to what to get involved with outside of school or work, so I’m really looking forward to going to community college next year.