This week, I attended a ladies luncheon, and a friend’s birthday party. I hosted a movie night, met up with some friends from out of town, and went to a non work show. And I’m absolutely exhausted. Not because I was running all over town, but because I played the “social butterfly.”
How do people do it? My mother can go, go, go….heading up organizations and clubs; hosting meetings, parties and happy hours day after day after day. But me? Not so much.
There are a few people in my life with whom I could happily spend the entire day. But then there are those who can literally suck the life out of me. And when my figurative glass is empty, sometimes it’s not the crowd that I need – it’s the quiet.
I’m constantly see-sawing between believing I need to be more social …and realizing I need time alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love people. I love my friends, family and social networks (the ability to socialize in my pajamas). I have hundreds of work-related conversations a day with interesting and intelligent music-loving folks. But at the end of the day, sometimes I take a hard look at my life – a very independent, private and mostly solitary life – and think, “I need a friend…I need a network outside of my go-to circle….I need someone who’ll go shopping with me, someone I can talk to on the phone at night” ….And I make the conscience effort (as I did this past week) to go out and deliberately plant myself in social situations. Beforehand, I work out conversation starters and funny little stories, and gear up to party like it’s 1999. I do (and sometimes, overdo) whatever it takes to “engage,” stretching my socializing muscles…and for a time, I really believe I enjoy myself.
It doesn’t take too long, however, to realize that – like all exercise – it eventually wears me out. I crave my solitude. I realize (again) that I don’t like shopping with other people….OR talking on the phone. And I ask myself (again), what made me think that I would?
What is it that we seek in our strive to become the fluttering “social butterfly,” ever-vivacious, ever-outgoing? Is it the need to break out of our comfort zone? Is it the belief that we have to be uber-social to be socially accepted? We *have* to go to the party in order to stay on the invitation list? We have to be seen to be counted? (We have to be seen to count?) Are we afraid of becoming forgotten? Or are we afraid that we may simply fade away?
Whatever the case, it’s a constant struggle – for me, anyway – to find the happy medium between feeling isolated and feeling overwhelmed.
For now, though….this butterfly is going to put away her dancing shoes and fold her wings.
…If only for a little while.