I’m sitting at a Starbucks on an average day in the Pacific Northwest, waiting for my next class to start. The ominous monocloud has returned, looming over the plaza. I’m wigging out and it has nothing to do with the weather. This is normal meteorological phenomena. It’ll probably be cloudless and sunny tomorrow.
The real reason why I’m wigging out is because of them.
There’s a knitting club seated in the comfy chairs across from and around me. They’re knitting (indeed) and chattering and laughing and just being loud. To be honest, they’re not that much louder than the surrounding din of Starbuckers, but something about these women are inordinately grinding my gears.
What is it?
I’m still trying to figure it out.
On one level, they remind me of the suburban housewife-y lifestyle that I am trying to dodge for my future. The idea of spending the rest of my life flitting from mundane activity to mundane activity terrifies me. That’s not a joke. Living in the suburbs attending to a breadwinning hubby and 2.06 children, while going to mommy clubs ain’t this gal’s idea of a happily ever after. (Not that this girl believes in “happily ever afters,” but excuse my jadedness.) Back to the knitters – they were irritating the hell out of me. Can’t a girl read in peace at a busy metropolitan Starbucks? I mean, really.
However! Yes, there is a “however” to this tale.
The true reason why this little social gathering was bothering me so much – this took me a while to see – was because they were just that: social. Flabbergasted, my conscious mind huffed and puffed up her chest. What? What does that mean?
Subconscious: It means you’re a social retard.
Conscious: Hey, that ain’t very PC to say. And all right, I may be relatively introverted, but I can hold my own in social situations.
Subconscious: But when was the last time you voluntarily attended one of these so-called “social situations”? Sitting around in the student government office eavesdropping on people doesn’t count.
Conscious: *sputters* Well, I never… There was that one time with the people at the place… with the stuff…
Subconscious: Admit it. You’re socially retarded.
Conscious: I am not. I’m fine just the way I am.
Subconscious: I didn’t say you weren’t fine. You’re just socially inept. You’re uncomfortable with socializing and pretend to be above all that small-talk-chitter-chatter. It’s a defense mechanism. Stop being in denial.
Conscious: I am not in denial!
Conscious: That’s not fair.
Subconscious: Admit it. And then write a blog post about it.
Conscious: Screw you.
Subconscious: And stop pretending that guy sitting off to the side in the green and grey argyle isn’t cute.
Conscious: Goddammit, you’re right. I- Hey! Stop it!
The main point is that I’ve come to realize the reason why I disdain many social gatherings is because I feel left out. It’s not even that people around me don’t like me (for the most part). A lot of the time, it’s just me sabotaging myself, making excuses about why I can’t or shouldn’t participate. The irritation I feel when I witness events like knitting circles is not superiority – it’s inferiority. The pride in being lonely and supposedly self-sufficient is nothing more than a defense mechanism. Instead of fixing my loneliness by reaching out and being social, I’ve developed a way of shrinking back into myself and shunning everyone else. It’s like being the fox in the Aesop’s fable of the sour grapes. I can’t reach the grapes, so they must be sour and bad anyway.
But what’s so sour about them? The knitting circle is a group of women, who come together to chat and unite in something they all enjoy doing. What’s so wrong with that? Nothing. It’s perfectly fine. It should be refreshing to see hints of communal interaction in our society of individualism and solitude. Isn’t it funny how we’ve been virtually trained to laugh at super nerd herds [see: Big Bang Theory] and appraise the self-serving, self-made man [see: any top dog CEO]? Community is community – barring hate groups (I’m lookin’ at you Westboro Baptist Church) – and we need to encourage people to band together, not disparage it. This is something I’m slowly, but surely working on.
We need to stop yucking their yums and get over ourselves:
What yums do you yuck? What yums of yours do other people yuck? Are you more of a social butterfly or a reclusive hermit crab? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!