I’ve never been much of a social person. In fact, being in the “out” crowd is perhaps where I belong. I’ve been called weird and strange so many times. In gatherings I tend to be an outlier, off to the side, at a distance to observe more so than partake, taking a cat’s eye view. I notice the popular one, the supporter and the arbiter. A crowd gathers around them. They’re talking about things that I would only have something negative to say. So, why would I join? They converse in a way that draws in the observers with little opinion and even less self-esteem. I won’t be part of that.
Instead, I choose misfits, malcontents, and uniquely disguised individuals to seek out. They are easy to find in other corners of the room. I may find my voice there. Conversations can start off somewhat strangely, as topics range from the simple to sublime, useless facts, fun trivia, and common ground. I hope to get a toe hold on the discussion. After all, these are my people. Unique points of view ensue and can form from a place of fancy. They have my full attention.
On this “island” I feel free to express myself without full conviction or contempt. I’m not revealing too much. Socializing has some pitfalls for the humble. However, I like how Bill knows a lot of useless facts and Tammy refers to her sick son as The Puker. I laugh too loud, and it feels good. I lean in to hear Scott give a mock guilty confession about shoplifting at age 8. I don’t have a story like that. It feels like the B team is hitting it off. We agree to move to the fire and gather around it like moths.
The crackling fire is background music to our conversations. The glowing flames change the way people look, making them seem surreal. Chairs are fitted tight around the curves, and we all relax. I tell a lame joke and notice Kevin’s orange face lights up when he smiles, while the others politely laugh. We continue to amuse each other with antidotes and tales of absurdity. I start to think, I do like to socialize but have always been a little apprehensive. Maybe not wanting to get too close to anyone, to reveal who I really am.
After a while, the entire party moves to the fire pit. One by one, people trickle over to see what we’re talking about and to get warm. The circle widens to let them in, and a whole new genre is created. Everyone is truly enjoying each other. Misfits and dilettantes mingle with the popular and good looking. A common thread appears out of nowhere and voices of agreement and laughter erupts.
I started this evening off with a queer eye, and ended with empathy, camaraderie, and friendship. And dare I say, a chance to comfortably socialize. I may not be popular or wildly interesting, but I can hold my own. Sometimes it’s with a little liquid confidence oiling my ego, I find it easier to fully engage. We all have our vices. I’m learning to be more inclusive, both in giving and taking of my time; reflecting. Because you can’t reach out without first reaching in.
Pull up a chair and let’s talk.