Now, I know that sounds a bit sad, having to learn to be social but it’s the honest truth for me. For as long as I can remember I have always been someone who is far more absorbed in his own self-reflecting or pondering or even brooding. People seem to come as a second thought. I could be sitting in the middle of Time Square during rush hour and not even notice a single person. Sure, the noise would annoy me after a while and I would look for a more quite place, but I could sit for easily over an hour just absorbed in watching and thinking. Never interacting.
That’s what I’m trying to change this week. I joined a political activist group this past year out of my general interest in politics (as some of you might know I was originally a Polisci major). This group is a 501C3 registered organization, which is to say they’re big. They span all of Virginia and include every school. Well my chapter president stopped me near the end of school and told me about a program that was coming up all about student leadership and learning how to essentially act as a lobbyist while still being a student. She told me that I should do it (I’m putting it nicely there -- I didn’t actually get a choice) because she thought that I would benefit from it. Of course, I thought this was a slight at first because my social skills are the equivalent of a cold noodle: under cooked and undesirable. But in the end I opted to go, and now here I am.
And let me tell you this. I am thrilled, terrified, excited, anxious, alive, tired...just a mess of emotions and mental states. But I am also learning. I seem to have hit it off well with the people here. I really can’t tell you why, I don’t like me so when other people like me I’m always a little shocked. But these people all seem to like me...at least in some capacity.
I told myself during the drive (a lovely seven hour drive filled with traffic and delays mind you) that I would be as close to who I am as possible. I would not put on masks as I have often done before to slip by unnoticed, but I would also not just sit idley and watch from the sidelines. I was going to be me. What a liberating thought.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve been pent up all summer with my parents, lacking any autonomy, or maybe I just was really ready to meet new people. Whatever the reasoning was doesn’t matter though because I have been more social in the last two days than I have been all summer. I’m exhausted because it takes so much energy for me to engage with pretty much anyone, it feels like I’ve been running all day by the time I get some alone time. But despite this, I feel good with my progress.
I write this in my very minimal free time now, everyone else is busy watching the DNC. I don’t mind not being social now, this is a gift to myself for all the hard work I’ve put into this day. I was authentic, and that authenticity somehow didn’t paint me as an asshole or an insane person. I still can’t get over that. I never thought there was more to me than either of those things.
Anyway, I hope that this was a somewhat enjoyable read to those of you who have made it this far, my lovely loyal readers and friends. I’m going to need a long shower now, and I will probably implode soon enough into a closed off, introverted bubble...but until that happens, I’ll keep doing what Albert Camus once said:
“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
Walk beside me… just be my friend”
It’s good to feel like I have some friends.
(EDIT: It appears that Camus might not have actually been the one to say that, but I love the man so I’ll stick with it until I can find out for sure)