Saturday, February 14, 2015

An Introvert's Thoughts About Valentines

Yeah, time of the year again, when thoughts turn to love and single people look out at the world surrounded by couples hooking up and saying all "what the hell are we doing wrong?"

It's not sitting here whining about the unfairness of the day.  It's not anyone else's fault - well other than the kids who inflicted the emotional scars of getting publicly humiliated throughout middle school and high school - that I ended up here in my mid-40s lacking the needed social skills to go out and date.

It's just not knowing what the hell to do to learn those social skills.

I'm surrounded by books in the library about "oh do this, do that, do this other thing" about dating advice, social advice, etc.  But book learning doesn't help.  There is something intuitive, something gained from experience and insight (like wisdom), about being sociable.

There is a nature, not a trained skill, towards being extroverted.  There is a confidence within the soul and the heart.

To me, I dread "faking" confidence because it feels like a lie, like being arrogant or foolhardy.

A lot of this ties back into my not being good at making friends or keeping them.  I am a geek, then and now.  Never fit in well with the other kids growing up.  I tried being noisy and clownish and eager and angry and foolish.  Still didn't figure it out.  Tried being friendly and polite and quiet and helpful.  Don't think I did well.

I tried dating here and there in high school.  There were girls I liked, but it never worked out, they never liked me that way.  I started failing at picking up on other people's vibes.  There's all this stuff about body language, being in sync with people, picking up on cues in conversations.  I found out - sometimes in the worst ways - that I wasn't picking up on them.  I fell out of sync with everybody else.

I developed the fear of doing something wrong.  I know fear is irrational.  I still feel it, an unwarranted guilt that I've done, am about to do, something that will (not might) make things worse...

Looking back now, I screwed up big time in college.  Never joined much of anything.  I was terrified of joining any frat because I didn't want to go through another round of hazing rituals like the crap I endured in high school.  The problem was the frats were the social centers of the campus 'verse.  Basically knee-capped myself right there.  Rarely went out at night.  Didn't make many social acquaintances, not even really socializing much with my college roommate (nice guy, he had a social life compared to me, ended up normal).  I put myself in a corner, did my studies, and ended up the way I am now.  Lacking the social skills to connect with anybody else.

So here I am, Valentines Day yet again.  Struggling once in awhile to force myself (yeah, saying that sounds so wrong) to using dating services, speed dating, singles groups, etc.  I go to these gatherings and immediately find myself unable to socialize, unable to start up a conversation or join one in progress, the awkwardness starting up and sending myself off to the side somewhere to stay out of the way.  Kicking myself afterwards on the drive home wondering why I spent 50 bucks to go to a night club where I don't drink and can't dance and won't fit in.

I'd like to develop a social life, but I honestly don't know how.  It's not the brain knowing (my awareness that I am missing something that matters), it's not the heart knowing (I can feel the pain of the void), it's the soul not knowing that hurts the most.

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