“But first, let me take a selfie”

During my 3 weeks of work experience, my cousin invited my 2 sisters and I to her birthday dinner. It was at a restaurant in central Edinburgh, and she’d invited about 20 people. My youngest sister couldn’t go because she was working. I initially didn’t want to go as I didn’t know anyone who was going except my middle sister and my two cousins, and I DEFINITELY didn’t want to go out clubbing (which is what was planned for after the meal). However, I decided that I would go along to the restaurant in an attempt to face my fears.

Unfortunately, the entire evening, and the conversation going on around me, reminded me of the song (if one can even call it a song) that I took the title from (I definitely wouldn’t choose to listen to it, but I was subjected to it). I was really anxious throughout much of the evening, but my sister is the only person who knows about my anxiety (my cousins know absolutely nothing about my mental health problems), and isn’t usually particularly helpful/ supportive. I didn’t want to mention that I was anxious in front of everyone, so I texted her. She looked at her phone, gave me a couple of (probably condescending) pats on the shoulder, and then went back to talking/ boasting to our cousin’s friends. My two cousins were also obviously busy talking to other people, so I was pretty much sat twiddling my thumbs, wanting to leave, and trying not to have a panic attack, for most of the evening. My cousin’s boyfriend’s sister sat next to me at one point and attempted to have a conversation with me, but I was obviously too awkward for her, as she soon moved her chair over to a group of other people. So on one side, I had no one sitting next to me (which made me feel even worse about myself, and like an extremely weird and unlikeable person), and on the other, I had my sister constantly boasting to my cousin’s friends about university life, her boyfriend/ sex life, clubbing/ drinking, and so on. The weird thing is that my sister told me before we got there that she didn’t really like that particular group of people, yet she spent the entire evening trying to one-up them.

Maybe this is just me being really bitter and grumpy/ weird, but all the conversations going on around me seemed to be very superficial and vapid. Like I said, it seemed that most people were talking/ boasting about their social lives/ nights out, and about various things they did while drunk. Now obviously, as someone who has a virtually non-existent social life, perhaps I just interpreted it this way. But with my sister at least, she certainly did seem to be trying to make herself/ her life appear better than the lives of the other people she was talking to. I just found it all rather odd. Then there was the guy who kept loudly boasting about the fact that he’d once managed to take over a hundred selfies on another person’s phone without them noticing. I felt like saying to him: “What do you want, a medal?”  I felt like a complete alien, being there.

At the end of the evening, people were trying to convince me to go out clubbing with them, but by then, I had had more than enough anxiety for one evening, and just wanted to go home. Thankfully, I had work experience the next day, so used that as an excuse for leaving early. I didn’t enjoy the evening at all, and spent most of it just waiting until I could go home. I can’t tell if I wouldn’t be able to get on with most people my age, or if I would be able to get on with more like-minded individuals. What I quickly realised is that I didn’t have much in common with those people. I feel so alienated when it comes to most people my age. And I think that most of them see me as being very weird/ antisocial. Oh well…at least I’ve learned (I think) not to force myself to go along to social events if I feel that I probably won’t enjoy them, and don’t have much in common with the other people there.

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16 Responses to “But first, let me take a selfie”

  1. Clementine says:

    Hi Gemma,
    I can definitely relate. At your age, I felt I had nothing in common with my peer group. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding people with similar interests and values. The majority of people your age are probably interested in socializing in a different manner than you would be. The “one-ups-manship” and the competition aspect of social games is very off-putting to me, also. Life does make it necessary to occasionally participate in those types of gatherings, so I look at it as a job or task that needs done. I don’t go in with the expectation that I will enjoy it, just that I will be open to conversation, as much as possible. Sometimes I prepare talking points beforehand, so I don’t “blank out” when asked a question.
    But true friends, for people like us, are much more rare and valuable. It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality of friendships that I value most. And I know that you will find and appreciate those people in your life, also. Just give it time!
    Thanks for sharing your experiences! Wishing you a peaceful and happy week!
    Clementine

    • Gemma says:

      I agree that I have to find people who are similar to myself. I know that it’s often necessary to participate in social events that one would much rather avoid, but if it’s something that I don’t have to attend, and which I feel will only make me feel worse, I don’t think there is any point in going along. I agree that true friends are very rare indeed. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  2. Liberty says:

    I feel like i have so much in common with you! I can completely relate to not getting along with people my age, i just feel like everyone my age is so superficial and competitive.
    I am such an old soul, i feel like i should be hanging around with 50 year old’s or something lol.
    Hopefully we will both find people out there that we have more in common with, they do exist their just much harder to find especially with SA, hope you are well. xx

    • Gemma says:

      I feel the same sometimes. I feel like I’m ancient in some ways, yet many years behind in a lot of other ways. Thank you. I hope you are able to find people you can connect with as well.

  3. Clubbing is kryptonite for introverts. I think it’s great that you recognized that you were not the problem here. Those aren’t your people, that isn’t your scene. I had more evenings like that when I was a young person than I can count. Eventually you’ll find with people who value conversations with depth and authentic connection.

  4. This entry reminded me of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EcNN7le5N8

    I am still skeptical of whether anybody does actually enjoy clubbing – or whether it’s all some facade / Emperor’s new clothes type scenario that everyone buys into.

    • Gemma says:

      Haha. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

      I sometimes wonder the same thing. Everyone else in my family is an extrovert, and they all seem to enjoy clubbing/ parties, so I’m not sure. Then again, perhaps their enjoyment has more to do with the amount of alcohol consumed than anything else. Also, I will reply to your email asap.

  5. Patrick says:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/aug/13/fashion.comment

    Charlie Brooker on clubbing – ‘Nightclubs are hell. What’s cool or fun about a thumping, sweaty dungeon full of posing idiots?’

  6. Gemma says:

    I enjoyed reading that article, as it perfectly sums up how I feel about nightclubs. If people do actually enjoy themselves at clubs, then great, but as a socially anxious introvert, I have no idea how anyone can. I also enjoy Charlie Brooker’s sense of humour/ take on various things.

  7. Xtina says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing this blog. Last night was difficult for me, like the night you wrote about, and I also felt very isolated from the group. Reading your blog comforts me to know I am not alone, that other people fight the same fight every day. Thank you for voicing your struggles and feelings.

    • Gemma says:

      Thank you. It’s really tough to feel so different/ alone in a group of people. I apologise that it has taken me so long to reply to your comment.

  8. I just happened to stumble across your blog, and can 100% relate to your posts. My first attempt at university (I’m 24, on to my third university and still no degree =/) I was a theatre education major. Theatre people are notoriously extroverted, and it felt like I was the only one on the opposite end of that. They loved getting together, hanging out at bars, having parties where impossible numbers of people were packed into tiny apartments. My roommate was kind of into the scene as well (though not as die-hard), and while I tried, it never managed to feel comfortable.
    It’s good that you can recognize not to fault yourself for having different things that you enjoy compared to the others. Keep remembering that. Sometimes you’ll want nothing more than to be like everyone else, but the best you can do is hold onto being the best you that you can.

    • Gemma says:

      Thanks for your comment. Sorry that it has taken me so long to reply to you. Your first experience of university sounds awful. I can imagine that it must have been an extremely isolating experience. Thankfully there are quite a few other introverts on my course, though I do still feel like a complete outcast there. Thanks again. I am beginning to learn to accept myself for who I am.

  9. bevchen says:

    I just came across this post… realllly late! It sounds to me like that group just wasn’t your people. Honestly, I would have been bored out of my mind listening to everyone trying to one-up each other – and I would probably have said the “do you want a medal” thing out loud without meaning to and made everyone hate me. Social situations involving big groups of people terrify me, with the result that I either go silent making people think I’m anti-social or say whatever comes into my head, usually something stupid, which makes them think I’m a complete nutter. Either way they never want to see me again. Then again, if I’m with a smaller group of people who it turns out I have stuff in common with it gets much easier – I can let other people do the talking but occasionally chime in with a comment. I’m currently trying to make social contacts in a whole new country and it is HARD, but I won’t give up. One day I will find my people… and so will you. Not everyone is shallow and annoying, and there are people out there who can look past the social anxiety and want to know you anyway. I promise!

    • Gemma says:

      Thanks for your comment. You’re right about those people not being my kind of people. I find being in smaller groups much easier as well. I can imagine that moving to a new country and trying to make friends must be very difficult, particularly if there are cultural differences as well. I commend you for not giving up, and hope that you do manage to find some new friends who really “get” you and who will understand/ accept your anxiety. 🙂 Thanks, I’ll keep going along to social groups and hopefully meet some nice people there.

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