Wednesday, August 26, 2009
A social butterfly, I am not.
I grew up in the province where parties meant being invited to a birthday, wedding, or christening celebration. They are always an ‘eat and run” affairs.
Parties in the city though are different and gatherings here generally make me feel uncomfortable, unless I know everybody in the room and, even then, I find myself wishing I were elsewhere, like in my room watching TV.
I have always envied people who can stand around in a party, drink in hand and chat and giggle and look totally happy. I generally just blink at the crowd in a wide-eyed, froggy manner. Yes, I have come to terms with the fact that I have the social grace of a frog.
Through time and experience, I have developed a very small but safe repertoire of party topics: the weather, how stressful life in the city is, or how peaceful life in the province is (depending where I am). I have learned that if I don’t stray from these issues, then I can sustain a quasi-meaningful conversation for about 5 minutes, which is all one needs in most social functions anyway.
Ok, I thought I’d share a few tips with fellow social frogs, who are on the brink of despair. For example, here are good conversation openers:
“It’s been so hot, (or cold, or raining…depends on how it really is. Remember, this is small talk, not fiction) hasn’t it? The person you’re talking to is bound to agree, since what you just said is a factual statement, after all. Then you say: “I like it ( or don’t like it) because…(state your reason)” Again the person you’re talking to will still agree because they don’t want to contradict you. For that would be rude. Then you say: ‘It’s good it hasn’t affected the party.”
As for the topic of stress, that’s very safe. Everybody’s stressed. All you have to do is open with something like: “Isn’t the traffic so stressful!” or “It get so crowded in malls, it’s so stressful!” The person you’re talking to is bound to launch into a litany of stressful things so that you wouldn’t have to talk again.
Ok, if however you are determinedly anti-social and yet do not feel the calling to join a monastic order, self cloistering can be an alternative. Just stay home and never ever accept a single invitation.
Of course, this has always been a tempting prospect fro me. However, I have found that the barrage of conversations I have to carry on explaining why I didn’t go can be just as hard to cope with, as showing up. So far, I have but a handful of excuses and there’s but only so many times a person can get sick. Oh well the script is still in the making. So until I manage to get avoidance down to an art form, I have to grit my teeth, show up at these functions and talk about the weather.
If you have a good excuse, let me hear it.