Social (Dys)function

Over the years, I’ve diagnosed myself with a plethora of psychological disorders, including hypochondria  (which, when I think about it, is probably related to all of this self-diagnosis business.)

But what do I know? I’m not a doctor.

I’m just a slightly neurotic young woman who has too much time on her hands and access to too many online, personality quizzes for her own good.

I’ve never come across a free, comprehensive, supposedly-medically-accurate, online personality quiz I didn’t want to take. That probably means there is something wrong with me — something these supposedly comprehensive personality quizzes never adequately explain. (Comprehensive, my ass.)

Most recently, I diagnosed myself as an asshole. Though this is obviously not a technical term, based on my complete lack of psychological training and education, I can assure  you it is absolutely a fitting term. After all, how else could you explain my ongoing problems interacting with and relating to my fellow human beings?

I frequently find interacting with people to be absolutely and positively exhausting and also, occasionally,  unbearable.

I dread any social function that could conceivably be referred to as “networking,” that requires me to interact with more than five people I don’t already know, and/or forces me to answer questions like “So, what do you do?”

Basically, if you don’t already know that stuff about me, I probably don’t want to be talking to you. It’s not personal. It’s not like I hate you or anything. How could I? I barely know you.

It’s just that I hate any sort of long, boring, social occasion that requires small talk. I hate small talk because I’m just no good at it.

In the moment, I never seem to remember what I’m supposed to say. I’m constantly being caught off-guard by simple exchanges like a coworker passing me in the hallway and casually asking “How are you?”

Nine times out of ten, I’ll remember to answer with something  upbeat like “good” or “fine.” One out of ten times, I won’t even realize they were talking to me until I’ve walked five feet ahead and I think, crap, wait, were they talking to me?

The times I do remember to answer, though, I never remember to do the next part. I will already be walking away when I think, urgently, but ever-so-slightly too late, “Shit, was I supposed to ask how they were? Now they’ll think I’m a real jerk.”

I mean, really, though, how stupid is that greeting when exchanged between acquaintances? Who are we kidding with that thing? Everyone knows you’re not supposed to actually give a real answer. If you actually responded to an acquaintance with something real, they’d say something pointless like “That’s too bad…” before they trailed off vaguely and started backing away from you. Also, they’d probably think you were a real, grade-A weirdo.

That’s another reason I hate forced social interactions — I can never be entirely sure of how my weirdness or vaguely inappropriate behavior will be received by people I only kind of know, or worse of all, people I don’t know at all.

I’m weird. There, it’s out there. I do weird stuff pretty much all the time. If I’m bored I’ll resort to all sorts of childlike antics to keep myself entertained. I’ll make weird faces. I’ll sing songs to myself in my head and then realize I’m accidentally dancing along, not just in my head. I’ll make random, completely out of context noises just to see if anyone will notice. Basically, I’m just sort of strange, but, you know, in a perfectly harmless sort of way.

Now generally, I don’t give a crap if people think I’m a bit odd. I mean, if you know me at all, or, really are just reading this, it should be pretty obvious by now that I don’t hide my oddness well. Or, at all.

But sometimes, just so you can remain gainfully employed or so you don’t embarrass your loved ones, you have to tone it down a bit. You have to reign in the weird, so to speak.

Unfortunately, I’m terrible at this. So to be safe in social situations I find uncomfortable, I play it cool and just try not to speak at all. Instead I just hover quietly by the snack table minding my own business and eating all of the cheese. (Because, let’s face it, if I’m hanging around some social function I didn’t want to attend, there’s got to be a snack table with cheese there. Or I would have  left already.)

I don’t do uncomfortable social functions without cheese-laden snack tables. Because I don’t do things I don’t want to do in my non-work hours. In that way, I suppose I’m kind of a stubborn asshole.

But when it comes to me not wanting to be surrounded by a bunch of strangers small-talking at me, I don’t think that’s me being an asshole. I think that’s just me being an introvert.

At least, that’s what the last online personality quiz I took told me I was. And, I’m inclined to believe it.

After all, I’ve heard those things are pretty accurate.

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