I probably won’t go to your birthday party. Or your housewarming party. Or your Halloween party, your Christmas party, or your July 4th barbecue. It’s nothing personal. I like you. I really do! And I’m super-nice and friendly. I really am! If you’re in need of a professional introduction, or want to borrow a book, or just desire someone to listen while you talk, I’m your girl. But you shouldn’t expect I’ll show up in a social setting, charm your friends, and be the life of the party. I’m a loner and I won’t be at the party.I wish I could say I suffer from some kinda of social anxiety disorder, something intense and hermit-like, something that could be blown out of the water with the right dosage of anti-anxiety meds. I don’t, or at least I don’t think I do. I’m not, like, afraid to play nice in the sandbox; I just much prefer to hang out with my friends in a one-on-one setting. And I actually love to socialize for professional networking — that’s kind of my one contradiction while otherwise being a loner. I genuinely enjoy making connections, even making friends, with other writers and editors and I am good at it. I don’t think I’ve got any Unabomber-type issues.
But when it comes to group social settings, usually I genuinely have no interest whatsoever in going, even if I like the person throwing the party a whole lot. I attended enough parties in high school and the early part of college to know I don’t really enjoy them. I’d go, get bored within an hour, and want to leave. Why be the party pooper? Why not just stay home? You could call me a “nerd” or you could call me “jaded” and both of those assessments would be correct. There are two things in life that I love, love, love to do and those are reading and writing. I would much prefer to lie in my bed on a Saturday night reading a great book rather than get cocktails spilled all over my shoes and straining to hear small talk over a thumping base. No, thank you.
Being a loner is not with its consequences. My own best friend actually told me I was an “a**hole” — and she meant it! — when I didn’t attend her birthday party last July. It was going to be a group of people at a bar … just not my scene at all. And it hurt, it really hurt, getting called an “a**hole” from Christiane, my absolute best friend in the world. I guess I deserved it? But I really didn’t want to go. I didn’t go to my friend-since-2nd-grade’s birthday party this year, either. I also didn’t attend my brother’s 30th birthday party or my sister’s 40th birthday party, which both happened this year. Same situation … not my scene at all. And I didn’t even throw myself a birthday party when I turned 26th last month for pretty much the same reason.
The hardest place to be a loner, though, is in my own relationship. I think I’m so drawn to my boyfriend David because we balance each other out: he’s a social butterfly and I am a social slug. He is a Labrador retriever trapped in a person’s body; he could make friends with a box of Cheerios sitting on the shelf. And while 75 percent of the time he is happy to be in social settings all by himself, he does want me to come out with him. We don’t often fight, but when we do, it’s usually about him wanting me to come to a party or social event and me wanting to stay at home with a good book or a new Netflix. I try to compromise for him because I know it’s the loving thing to do, but it’s not how I am wired. At. All.
Being nudged out of your comfort zone can be a good thing and for that, I am grateful. But, man, sometimes it really is hard.