I will never be referred to as a "social butterfly." I'm much more likely to be described as an obsessive neurotic workaholic who will suddenly come down with an incurable case of I-don't-want-to-go-so-BACK-OFF whenever someone invites me to a party.
I am grateful to the people I've met for making an effort to include me in their social circle. I've done more socializing in the past few weeks than I did in the previous months, when I was still getting settled in Small Town. It has been a pleasure to get to know some nice people and spend time with them.
But on the other hand, I've always been an introvert and a loner, and I don't like to socialize THAT often. For example, one thing that Small Town Guy and his friends like to do on a regular basis is go out for drinks to a local bar. Since I'm a teetotaler, I like bars as much as I like trying on swimsuits within earshot of girls who are a size zero and complain that they look "fat". (I have a head-butting reflex for girls like that.)
But I go and drink soda at the bar with them, because I've finally realized that it's not good to let my life revolve around work all the time. Sometimes I feel shy and nervous around that many people; big social situations like that have always made me feel anxious and prone to saying things that make me want to slap my face so that I'll stop talking.
I've declined more than one social invitation, partly because I can't afford to go out as often as the others do, and partly because most of the time, I'd rather go off and do my own thing. Although I enjoy their company, sometimes my mind wanders when I'm with them.
I find myself thinking about the books I'm reading, and all of a sudden I'm not at a bar or out to dinner with the others. I'm sitting on the fire escape of a Brooklyn tenement with Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, or I'm writing in a Paris cafe with Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast, or I'm camping out in Taos, New Mexico with the main characters in Natalie Goldberg's Banana Rose.
Other times I think about my own writing, which I've sadly been neglecting due to my full-time job and part-time job. I think about which guy my main character should end up with, and I think of scenes that I want to rewrite or take out altogether. It makes me wish I could take out my journal and jot a few notes down, but then the others would either think I'm rude or want me to read my writing out loud to them, which is about as appealing as wearing a swimsuit in front of them.
When I was younger, I tried to be more social. On the rare occasions I wasn't at one of my three (or four) jobs, I went to bars, clubs, or parties with my friends. But more often than not, I'd make up an excuse and leave early, because I felt uncomfortable or bored. Once I went to a party where I only knew one other person. All the guests spent the whole time gossiping about people that I didn't know, so finally I stood up and announced that I was going home. One of them said, "Oh, I hope we weren't boring you with all of our talk!"
I replied, "Actually, you totally were. See ya!" (I also have a thing about being a little too direct sometimes.)
I remember going to a nightclub with some friends, where they danced, drank, and flirted. All I could think was how much I'd rather be watching one of my favorite crime dramas or browsing in a bookstore. I felt that as someone in her twenties, I should enjoy myself in situations like that, as so many other twentysomethings did. But I never really did.
Now that I'm older, I do try to adapt to social situations more often. But I still feel awkward and out of place sometimes, and I feel bad for being so antisocial. I think it's something that just comes with the territory of being an introvert, and it's not something I'll ever be able to change.
What about you? Do you consider yourself to be an extrovert or an introvert?
Interview with… Adam Byatt - Today it’s the turn of Adam Byatt to sit down and share his writing with us. This is my 13th interview, and there are still some wonderful authors to come!...
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