I know some people that are social butterflies, who have a million friends, who have weekend plans a month in advance, who get together even during the week!
I have never been one of those people. I'm more of a social larva. While I was teaching, doing anything during the week just never made sense; I was too busy and tired. But also, I've never really had a lot of friends. I can be really outgoing, I can be a leader...but it's much easier to be strong, loud and in charge when the people around you are pre-teens. I found that after being a leader all day long in my job, I wanted to hang back and let another grown-up take a crack at it, so I could relax a bit. And so around strangers, I am often quiet and shy. Usually I have plenty to say, I just don't always feel up to saying it.
I always want to have friends, and make friends. That's really hard to do as an adult. Or at all, really. It's all about propinquity--who's around you. The friends I still have from college, we all lived in the same dorm. Then I befriended some teachers at my school (who have since moved away, gotten married, and had babies). Happily, a couple teacher-blog friends became real-life friends, and that expanded into flickr friends who became real-life friends.
But just meeting people? Finding friends on one's own? I don't know how to do that.
So I try to be open to possibilities that other people put together. For instance, in the winter, there was an AmeriCorps Alums event at a bar. I ended up finding some other NCCC folks and we happily chatted for a couple hours. We've gone to a party or two, and ended up talking to fun people that I wish could become friends. Have you done that--met a person at a social event but then took the initiative to establish contact? Like, I want to say, "You seem like a neat person. Be my friend." I am occasionally great at being a one-hour party friend, but I've never been able to make that stick into a real thing.
And then sometimes I just can't do any of it. There was another AmeriCorps Alums event this summer, in a different bar. I was really excited for it, since the previous one had been so successful. I walked up to the bar, and it was completely jammed with people. I tried to steel myself, and walked in. I kind of looked around like I was supposed to be there, was meeting someone there, was not just a loner loser trying to find people to latch onto...
And turned around and walked out. I couldn't do it. I was exhausted and shy just thinking about the effort to find the right group of people and trying to be all perky. So, defeated, I went home and watched tv.
Earlier this week, I read about a book club meet-up on Forever Young Adult, a blog that talks about all things YA (books, tv, movies). The assigned book was one I'd already read and loved, Beauty Queens. There was a meeting in my borough, not very far away. I put it on my calendar and hoped I might have the resolve to go.
It was scheduled for last night. I was so tired yesterday that I left work a little early and actually took a nap. I waffled on whether I had the energy--mental or physical--to go out and meet strangers. But with my resolve to get out there and try to meet potential friends, I figured I had to at least try. I knew that I'd have some things in common with people, at least! I can talk about books for days.
So I went. I almost didn't find the people, and almost right away was struck with that lost, stomach-butterfly feeling of being a loser. But! someone else noticed me holding a book and looking around. Together we found the others (helpfully with a sign). There were only four of us total, which meant that we had plenty of time to talk about all kinds of things book-related. I got some great recommendations and gave some as well.
I felt energized while there and afterward--proud of myself for getting out there, happy to find people with similar tastes and mindsets, excited to talk about books I love or hate.
I'm hoping that this book club will continue and that I can juggle that as well as my other YA book club. Dare I say it, I'm also hoping that I can make some more friends. I really should be butterflying out there, finding new and interesting people to visit with.
Now though, it's late and I want to curl up with a book. Good night, friends.