Things To Avoid When You’re Socially Inept

Oh why??  Why did I do it?  What was I thinking?!  How could I have forgotten and ignored the basic traits in myself that will surely make this endeavor a total disaster?  What if the people suck?  Or are weird?  Or figure out that I’m strange?

Well, I’ve gone and done it.  I’ve dug myself a hole from which there’s no escape.  In my scramble to find ways to enjoy my time here in this Mexican bordertown, I inadvertently and heedlessly hurled myself into a puddle of stress, anxiety and self-doubt.

Upon moving here, I immediately checked MeetUp.com for groups involving things that I enjoy: Hiking, yoga, exercise, trail running, knitting, writing, reading, drinking.  There was NOTHING.  I looked again with different keywords: backpacking, pilates, fitness, jogging, crocheting, books.  Still nothing.

With the summer rapidly approaching, I kept going over and over and over the same lament: I wish I had friends here.  I wished for D to go hiking with.  I wished for Blondie to clean with.  I wished for M to have beers with.  I wished for K to people-watch with.  It started to form into a bona fide funk, and I needed to do something about it.

So I planned a hike.

But I didn’t stop there.  Oh no.  I kept going.

There have to be other hikers here right?  Out of the tens of thousands of people in these three “cities”, there has got to be one or two that are funny and sarcastic and awesome like D, right?  RIGHT?!

And so, on a whim, I paid $36 and started my own MeetUp group called Hiking For Dummies.  I described my goals for hiking this summer and posted the first trip to Palouse Falls that day.  (Which was, incidentally, Friday, the day before the hike itself….I wasn’t lying, I got a wild burr up my ass and three minutes later, I was the organizer and founding member of this group now open to anyone to join.)

I don’t really know why I did it.  I wanted a hiking buddy, for sure; the Old Man humors me and goes when he has no other choice, but deep down, he really doesn’t like it.  It’d be nice to have someone who likes it like I do.  I wanted to meet other people.  Find things to do here.  Discover ways of forming relationships that doesn’t include the bar–which, I fear, I’m rapidly outgrowing.

For a few hours, it felt good.  I was proactive.  The pipedreams of what COULD be kept playing on repeat.  My summer previewed and it was packed with trips and pictures and summits and waterfalls and fields of wildflowers.

And then came the sugar crash.

Mostly, if you met me, you’d never believe me if I told you that I’m generally uncomfortable in new situations and around new people.  But I’m a fake-it-till-you-make-it kinda girl.  I do my best with small talk and smiles and silently pray for a reprieve from someone else.  Until I get comfortable, I’m happiest standing in the back, checking shit out, letting someone else take the lead.  (After that, look out, I’ll charge to the front, but that’s a whole other post on a whole other personality!)

Expectedly, people started signing up.  I had actual MEMBERS who were excited that FINALLY there was a group like this.  I had the type of people that, on paper, were exactly the type of people I was looking for.  Varied hiking experience, varied ages, varied backgrounds.  And it was all of a sudden, REAL.

End honeymoon phase.

It wasn’t long before I realized that it was me who was the organizer of this group.  Me who was going to have to do all the greeting and introducing.  Me that was going to have to take the lead.  Me that was going to have to make the small talk until everyone started picking up on their own.  Me that was going to have to diffuse the awkward moments (the MOST scary because I am usually the CAUSE of the awkward pause…).

And here I sit.  ready for battle once again with my own, probably very mild, case of social anxiety.  Joining a group like this would mean that I could attend when I wanted and bow out if I didn’t.  I could choose who I talked to and who I pursued a relationship with.  As the organizer, it must be equal opportunity to all who join.  Because that’s the type of environment I want to foster.  On the one hand, I’ve taken steps to create a situation that I’ve been searching for.  On the other, I never meant to sign up for the responsibility that goes with it.

My next MeetUp is this Saturday.  I just posted it, and there’s already one person who’s RSVP’d.  Here’s hoping she’s not a serial killer or close talker…..

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12 thoughts on “Things To Avoid When You’re Socially Inept

  1. Well if that is the only RSVP, better take the Old Man with you so you don’t get raped or chopped up into little pieces for the cougars in the hills.

  2. Well at least it is a hike. You can just be like “Hi I’m Jennifer. Let’s walk!” and be off. We went on a Meetup hike when we first moved here. It was good and we met all sorts of socially inept people! We enjoyed it! But mostly we went for the hike. Most important things: show up, give good directions to the trail head and wear something bright so strangers can identify you. The rest will just come easy.

  3. I feel for you. I keep thinking of the saying, “Hoist in your own petard.” I have no idea what a petard is, but it’s not nice, methinks.

    Way to go for taking the initiative. It will work out. You’re good at hiking and you already said you can “fake it ’til you make it.” I’m looking forward to hearing how it went.

  4. Did anyone mention that Patti was inept?

    Srsly, good call on starting the Meetup group. It’ll be fine. You’ll be fine.

    Do what Elizabeth said. She’s pretty smart, that one.

  5. Now that I’ve settled down to just giggling over you & Patti going back & forth with petard, I can say, with all honesty, that I’m much like you. I’m great if I’m not the one that initiates it…once everyone is talking, it’s easy to join in. Nobody believes it of me – I’m really shy.

    You’ll be fine. Hell…I wish I lived closer to you. I’d go along, and I’m SO not a hiker…not a nature girl. If you show them one bit of the awesomeness you give us here over the interwebs, they will love you.

  6. Patti is about inept as I am Caucasian. Yeah I said it.

    But good for you, Jen! I know, I KNOW that it’s not going to easy and you’re going to have to Do Stuff but if you get a friend out of it in the end, it’ll all be worth it, right? I’m with Ollie though. I don’t want this is be the last blog post I read from you. If the Old Man can’t go with you, make sure you have a handy pepper spray can tucked somewhere and have practised the never failing neck chop.

  7. I commend you, because as much as I would like to do that, I just don’t have the balls. Hopefuly you will make it past your insecurity and find some like-minded people in this adventure that you created.

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