I went to the last session of my divorce recovery class last night (technically, it’s a relationship-ending recovery class—not everyone who takes it was married to their partner). It was an amazing end to a powerful experience. I’ll talk more about that another time.
I realized something about myself last night. Only about 1/2 of the class time was structured. We had a lot of time to eat and talk—it felt like a party. After class, it seemed like people stuck around more, as well. What I realized as I was driving home was this: I do not like socializing in big groups of people. Even, it seems, in groups where I like and feel comfortable with everyone present, as was the case last night. I’ve known for a while that I prefer socializing in smaller groups, but this piece, that I really don’t like big groups was somewhat of a revelation to me. I think I feel a bit lost and overwhelmed in them. I end up mostly flitting from conversation to conversation, maybe contributing, but rarely getting deeply involved. And if there’s one thing I love, it’s deeply involved conversation, just, apparently, not in the midst of a large group. There have been a few times that I’ve been able to have a great conversation in the midst of a big group, but during those times I’ve been able to get one-on-one with someone, and kind of forget the rest of the people there. This is not the usual experience, granted.
Now, I’m not going to start turning down all invitations to big events or big get-togethers, but I think this is a good thing to know about myself. First of all, I can stop feeling like a failure when I don’t have the time of my life at a big party. I’ve been looking back over past “big group” experiences (including sitting at a big table at a restaurant—I seem to always end up between two conversations and just go back and forth between them) and letting myself off the hook for feeling so out of place. I have finally come to a point in my life that I know I don’t have to like big groups to be an okay person. And I do okay in them, I really do. It’s not like it’s torture; I just have a hard time finding my place in them—it’s so different from how I am in a gathering of two or three other people (a setting in which, frankly, I rock). So now, the next time I’m in a situation like that, instead of making my discomfort worse and internally berating myself for not being the life of the party (because I don’t have to be), hopefully I’ll remember that this is just a part of who I am, and hopefully, I’ll give myself permission to flit from conversation to conversation without settling down.
Or even permission to just go home early.