Am I a social misfit? I’m beginning to wonder if I am. Let’s look at the evidence:
1) Parties. Everyone loves a party right? Not me. Well I love the idea of them. I buy into the hype. A party! Woohoo! Yay! Count me in! But the reality is a bit different. I’m using the word ‘party’ here to refer to any large social gathering, be it work related or personal. I’m not a mingler. I don’t mingle. People at parties should mingle. But I just like to stick with someone I know and like, in one spot, the whole time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-social, if someone talks to me in a social setting, then I will be perfectly pleasant and engage appropriately with the conversation, I might even be funny and sparkling, but I just can’t be the one to start the conversation. I feel awkward and uncomfortable, and quite frankly I don’t even really feel like starting up a conversation with some random person who might turn out to be of no interest to me at all. Harsh I know. But there you go.
If my partner is with me, then I can be quite happy, sticking with him. He’s a bit like me with parties, so he’ll be quite happy just sticking with me. We both can mutter about how we’d much rather have just gone out for dinner the two of us than come to this party, and I will sit there dreading to hear those well-meaning words “Let me introduce you to…”.
I feel a bit of a fraud saying all the above, because over the last month I have been to two parties that I’ve actually quite enjoyed and been in no rush to leave. My partner has been with me on both occasions but I haven’t felt the desperate panicky fear of being separated from him. I’ve felt comfortable, I’ve engaged in interesting and funny exchanges with others, and have left the party feeling happy and relaxed rather than relieved it’s over. I do feel these are the exception for me though.
2) Quirkiness – At work I was once voted ‘The quirkiest member of the team’. No further explanation needed of this evidence.
3) Friends and family – As much as I love my friends and family and enjoy spending time with them, I don’t want to get together with them three times a week. I don’t understand the need some have to be surrounded with people all the time. To fill their social diary to the max. If I end up with more than one social engagement in a weekend, then I feel that my weekend has been wasted and I am resentful that a large part of my weekend has been taken over. I haven’t had any me time. I actually quite like me, and I quite like spending time with just me. I hardly ever get time alone, but I relish it when I do, and I actively seek to create those moments rather than actively seek to fill my spare time socialising with others. I’m obviously not including my own children and partner here; they are part of me and my day to day life. I just don’t feel the need to bring lots of other people into the equation all the time.
My 12 year old daughter is the complete opposite. She is highly sociable and wants to avoid being on her own at all costs. She just came out with a great line that sums it up. I was commenting to her about what I was writing here and she said “That’s true, the only time I’m alone is when my friends go to the toilet”.
4) Team player – At work, in pretty much any work setting, we’re all expected to be good team players aren’t we. It’s a requirement in job advertisements ‘Must be able to work well as part of a team’. Well that doesn’t really describe me I’m afraid. I do it, of course I do it because I have to, and I cooperate appropriately in a team, and others would probably say I’m a perfectly good team player. But I don’t like it, it’s not me. I much prefer to have my own self-contained work that I just get on with on my own. If there were two tasks to be done, and two of us to do them, I would much rather that we both do a whole one each than work together on both.
So what does all this mean? Whilst doing a bit of research on this subject, I came across this blog post from a few years ago – ‘All Loners Aren’t Social Misfits’. I can relate to what she says, and take some comfort in knowing that there are many others like me. The only issue I have with her article is the title. It implies that it’s better to be a loner than a social misfit. I’m not sure about that. The term ‘social misfit’ has a certain integrity about it, I would say it has ‘street cred’ if it wasn’t for the fact that my children tell me NOBODY says ‘street cred’ any more. But social misfit means ‘different’ and different isn’t necessarily bad. ‘Loner’ however is just one letter away from loser. By the end of her article I concluded that I am an introvert. I don’t shy away altogether from people and social situations, but I’m selective in how many of both I want in my life, and I need regular time alone in order to refuel and blossom. I’m still not sure if I’m also a social misfit, but if I am, at least I’m in good company.