I recently had a couple of experiences with acquaintances of mine that got me thinking about the nature of my social activity. A couple of weeks ago I hung with a friend for dinner and a movie. When I dropped her off at her boyfriend’s apartment she said she would let me initiate contact because she didn’t want to bug me. This was after having a conversation another day in which I said that my base living situation is solitude. I treasure my friends but I can’t spend all of my time with them. Yet I didn’t think this meant that I wanted to be left alone all of the time, either.
Last night I went to downtown Portsmouth for dinner. Right before I went into the restaurant I ran into a woman who works as a barista at the coffee shop next door. We got to know each other on a friendly level although we’ve never hung out or anything. She seemed to be going somewhere with somebody else. But we stopped to say hi, and she wanted to show off a piercing she just got a few moments prior. She concluded the conversation with something along the lines of “We’ll stop bugging you” but not in a mean way. It could have just been a quirky way of saying goodbye. But it got me thinking about how I come across to people in regards to social interaction.
I know I’m socially awkward. I make it a point not to care, and I’ve mentioned this once or twice to people before. But I believe this comes from lack of experience rather than the other way around—in other words, I’m not a loner because I’m awkward, but I’m awkward because I’m a loner and don’t get the practice. I’m not seeking the practice, either. It’s just a statement. Nevertheless, I sometimes wonder if I come across as rude because I’m quiet and I clearly had plans to be doing something else than talking to somebody. I may have been caught off guard but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want their company. I just wasn’t expecting it.
I make an effort to be nice to people, but is it coming across when I want to be left alone, and is it that often? For that matter, is that really a bad thing? I’m not saying that I don’t like the person or their company generally, but I have to be in the mood, especially if I didn’t already have plans, no matter how trivial… it’s not that I’m mean. I try to be accommodating. I think that comes across, so I’m not worried about losing friendships. But I sometimes get the feeling that people think we all have to be outgoing to each other at all times in order to maintain friendships.
I’m not turning over a new leaf. I don’t feel the desire anymore to try to be more sociable with people. That doesn’t mean I’m becoming a hermit. It does mean that I’m accepting that I’m mostly a loner and I can only hope that friends get this. So far, I don’t have to worry.
Now, we’ll see how this plays out when I finally go to Goth clubs. At least I’ll be able to dig the music.