Last night, I experienced a moment where I realized I had peaked in social awkwardness. I felt the walls of my inability to understand the act of socializing close in on me and squeeze away any confidence I carried with me into the evening. I tunneled as quickly as I could through years of reading philosophy and psychology books to take charge of the situation and make the best of it, but found myself pressed in to the background of a group of people I had nothing in common with. I grabbed my bag, sneaked out the back like a rat and left concluding that I was boring, mature and rather friendless. All of which carried no self-pity, but a rather harsh self-examination of how I ended up alone and crying on park bench across the street from a good friend’s graduation party.
Had I been this way my entire life, my hide would have been thick enough to protect the teeth of bitter self-loathing from sinking in, but the truth is, I haven’t always been this way. I’ve always been a loner, always in my own mind, developing my own opinions and practicing my own philosophies. However, I haven’t always been so withdrawn from other people. Yet, after spending the rest of my evening reflecting my past, I realized that 95% of any social life I’ve ever maintained has been strictly for appearances and hardly ever for genuine interest.
What bothered me even more was the fact that in order to press myself in to a social situation without raising any eyebrows is to drink. Get as much liquor inside of me as possible and ride passenger to my liquid courage.
Every angle of that particular “solution” strikes me as pathetic and insincere. Which begs the question “Am I a hermit by choice or because I have no choice?” Have I been so psychologically damaged by my past that I fear closeness with others, or am I genuinely uninterested in what people who share no common interest have to say?
In no way could I ever be considered arrogant, judgmental – absolutely, but not arrogant. I am simply a firm believer in my own opinions and would prefer discussing human nature rather than human interests. I prefer “naked conversation” where all parties are stripped of self-lies and false-confidence. For me, a conversation doesn’t have to have depth, just honesty.
I suppose the point I’m (sloppily) trying to make here is that nothing is truly wrong with me. There is something more wrong with drinking to “fit in” than there is staying home and enjoying my time privately. It used to make me feel guilty and ashamed, but now, I realize it’s just what I enjoy. And that’s not to say I never want to go out and drink again, we’re social creatures, too much time alone is unhealthy for one’s mind; we need stimulation and challenges, but not to the point where it becomes self-destructive.
While I believe it’s necessary to push ourselves out of our comfort zones, the result should be rewarding, never damaging. And, although I know last night wasn’t the last time I will ever feel uncomfortable or suffer an anxiety attack, I will never have to feel guilty about it again.