I thought I was better at parties.
My husband and I have a number of “couple friends”, i.e., other couples who are our friends. We’ve known them for years, we hang out regularly, and I enjoy spending time with them. Whenever we went to parties, inevitably, some of those same couples were there. Good times.
But recently, one couple moved away and another had twins. Suddenly our group of close friends was much smaller.
We went to a gathering at a friend’s house the other day. This is a not-so-close friend–so I’d never been to their place before. I knew hardly anyone at this party.
That meant small talk.
This party brought back all those feelings of social inadequacy–you know the ones I’m talking about. These past few years, I’d done so well at parties! But now I was reminded that I actually am NOT good at parties. I hate small talk, and it takes a ton of energy to pretend to care about the details revealed during small talk. But I do listen to people intently and try to have a good conversation. It’s so, so tiring.
After only an hour and a half, instead of listening to the people talking to me, my thoughts drifted away. I thought, “I can’t do this any more. I want to get out of here.” But I knew it was too early to actually leave the party.
I killed some time playing with a guest’s dog.
Finally, I walked over to my husband and quietly said, “Give me the keys. I’m going to go sit in the car for a while.”
“That’s weird,” he mumbled, as he handed me the keys.
As soon as I walked out the front gate into the dark, quiet night, I took a huge breath and felt awesome. I got into the car, put the seat back down, and started to play with my phone. Even that was too much. I put my phone down and closed my eyes and thought about how happy I was to be able to take this break. I mentally patted myself on the back for having this great idea to come to the car! What a brilliant plan!
After about 30 minutes, I rejoined the party. No one noticed I was gone, of course.
My little party-break-in-the-car made me happy because it gave me some control. I wasn’t trapped at the party–forced to be social or feel awkward about not being social. But I still felt disappointed that parties are so hard for me.
But what makes me feel better is knowing that honestly–lots of people don’t like parties. I’m not the only one. Neither are you. 🙂