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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Party of One

The holiday season is a time of year in which people get together for all sorts of parties and celebrations. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday, I'm certain that most of you will spend them with family, friends, or other people who mean a lot to you at various gatherings and parties.

This week's edition of the Thursday Diaries talks about a holiday party that was recently held...and why I ended up flaking out of it.

November 29, 2012

Okay, diary...I know it seems a bit weird that I keep referring to these series of blog entries as the Thursday Diaries. After all, there are no books pens, no pieces of paper...not even a key that unlocks it. But, I was told by quite a few people in my life that I should try to bring a little bit more of myself in these entries, so I decided to take their advice. I think in some ways, it's working out better because I get to share more of myself with all of you out there....but also, I get to talk about topics that I likely wouldn't be able to talk about in a standard entry on pop culture.

Most recently, I was faced with another situation in which I was given advice in regards to something else. Advice that upon retrospect I probably should have taken.

I guess I should explain. Last week was my workplace's Christmas party. It was held at a banquet hall in town, and everybody who worked at the store was invited. All you had to do was sign up before a specific date so that the store's social committee could figure out how much food to order.

There were several people who signed up for it. I think that I lost count after 100 people. And for what it was worth, I will say that our store's social committee worked overtime in order to make the party a success. They booked the venue, they bought the door prizes, and they advertised the party in such a way that the whole store knew about it within a matter of days.

And yet, I chose not to attend. Instead, I went home and spent the evening working on writing projects. And at first, I was comfortable with my decision. I believed that I had made the right choice at the time for a multitude of reasons.

But then I went into work the very next day and heard people who had gone to the party talking about how great a time they had, and I saw pictures of the event that people had taken, and I was beginning to change my stance, and felt like I had missed out on a good time.

Funny how that works, huh?

So I suppose that you're wondering why I decided not to go to the party. It's a bit of a complicated explanation, and I fear that I may contradict myself when it comes to trying to talk it out...but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

I should state this from the very beginning. For most of my life, I have had a really terrible experience with parties. When I was a kid, I was lucky if I was invited to one or two birthday parties a year, while all my other classmates went to at least half a dozen. As far as people throwing me parties, that track record was even more dismal. If I can remember correctly, I think I've only had two surprise parties in thirty-one years of living. And that admission is not one that is meant to induce sympathy or pity either...just telling it like it is.

I actually think that those experiences of going to parties as a child (or lack thereof in my situation) sort of hindered my outlook on them when I grew older. By the time I was old enough to pick and choose what parties and social events I went to, I simply picked and chose to not go. And in situations where I was forced to go to a social event such as a wedding or a graduation party, I chose to keep to myself in an isolated corner.

You see, by that time of my life, I was completely over weddings, parties, anything really. I felt incredibly uncomfortable being at them in uncomfortable that I ended up making excuses as to why I would choose not to go. The venues were too crowded, the music was too loud, I didn't want to go to a party without a my head they sounded logical, and I never really thought much about it.

And just as I had for every party that I flaked out on in the past, I made excuses over why I didn't go to the Christmas party last week. I didn't have a date, so I would have sat by myself. Many of the people who signed up to attend the party were people who never really bothered with me much in the first place, so why would the Christmas party be any different? You know, foolish excuses like that.

Now I feel as though I potentially missed out on what could have been a great time.

I mean, yeah, it's entirely possible that the excuses that I kept making for myself could have happened. Yet, it's also entirely possible that these excuses were all in my head and that I was purposely trying to get out of spending time in social gatherings.

The only question that I keep asking myself is...why do I do this?

Well, I think it boils down to this. And bear with me here, it's hard to explain.

I was thinking that because I had a few bad experiences with parties in my youth, that no party was worth going through that again. So, I ended up rejecting any invitation to parties that contained more than three people (which I'm not really sure if a party of four counts as a party) because I couldn't face the prospect of going there just to be ignored or have a bad time.

And what ultimately happened was that I had a bad time at home feeling sorry for myself.

You see, what I didn't realize was that by rejecting party invitations, I was basically closing the doors to future events. I mean, think about it for a second. If you heard that a person rejected six different party invitations, would you even make the effort to invite them to your party?

So, eventually the party invitations just stopped coming...and it was of my own doing...though my mindset at the time was all about blaming others for being snobbish and stuck-up as to not including me in their celebrations. So, yes, I'll own that. A lot of my bad party experiences were of my own doing.

I'm not sure why I spent so much time trying to avoid parties...I can only made educated guesses. I refused to go to the after-party for my high school graduation because, well, let's face it...would you want to hobknob with the very people who spent four to five years bullying you? I don't think so. At the same time, there were some people at my school that I did like, and who did attend the same party that I could have hung around with instead. A missed opportunity, I guess.

And looking back on it, I suppose that my decision to skip the Christmas party at work was based on a lot of those insecurities that I had growing up...insecurities that admittedly still bother me as an adult. Insecurities that I want to obliterate from my personality once and for all.  I mean, many of the people at that party were co-workers of mine...some I've known for eight years.  Why would I be afraid to be myself in front of them at a Christmas party when I am known for making a fool out of myself at work all the time?  It makes no sense...and yet, here we are.

I think that the only way that I'll be able to conquer my insecurities and anxieties regarding social gatherings is by going to more of them, and getting better acquainted with how they run.  And I suppose if it means grinning and bearing it at social events in the future, it might be worth it, if it means that I become more socially approachable in the process.

I guess it's something to think about.

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