Thursday, January 2, 2014

99 Problems...#3...Social Interaction

After the Holiday madness festivities, I felt this was a fitting third problem. I know there has been a rather long gap, but rest assured, I have not run out of problems. I'm pretty sure I never will. 

This particular problem has been life long for me. If you're at all introverted you probably have it as well. It's not that I don't like social interaction per se. Sometimes I really do.  Sometimes I even look forward to it. Sometimes I even *gasp* enjoy it!  But I have rules. Not rules that are written out on a blackboard for all the world to see, but internal rules that I have to live by to maintain a psychological, emotional, and physical balance. If the rules are broken, I am broken as well. There is no "getting used to it". There is no adapting. There is no learning to like it, and certainly no "going with the flow". I've tried. Believe me, I. Have. Tried. But even as far back as I can remember, I had rules. I may not have known why back then. I may not have realized that in following them I was maintaining a balance, but I was. It was almost instinctual. A survival mechanism. It's only during the last year or so of connecting the dots, that I was able to...connect the dots. I am now fully aware of why I need this structure and I'm also fully aware of what happens when I don't get it. 

So, what are my rules of social interaction?

First and foremost, it has to be a PLAN. I have to know in advance that it is coming and I have to ready myself for it. I have to prepare, maybe even rehearse. I have to run scenarios through my head and figure out the solutions to said scenarios IN ADVANCE, just in case, you know, they happen. Spur of the moment, last minute social interaction is one of the most anxiety inducing experiences of my life. I don't like it. I don't see that changing. Randomly running into people is a nightmare. If I see you, but you don't see me, I'm going to duck down that other aisle and hide.

Second, I have to STICK to the PLAN. Change is bad. Change is bad. Change is bad. Can I rationalize the fact that Change isn't really all bad? Sure. Can I make myself believe it down to my core? No. I can not. For me, even changes need to be PLANNED, prepared for, rehearsed. This is why I can and have made some rather BIG changes in my life. Changes that left people shaking their heads in disbelief. But I planned for it. Probably for years. And I controlled it. So...yeah. If there is a plan, lets just go on and follow through with it, shall we?

Third, I have to space it out. Too much in a short period of time will cause me to feel overwhelmed, emotionally melt down, and leave me unable to even identify my own feelings. Instead of being able to step back and say, I'm overwhelmed, I'm tired, I'm confused...I end up with only one dominant thought/feeling/emotion, or whatever it is, and that is..."I  hate everyone." I don't have an answer to why this happens and why that is my default, but it is and well, that just turns me into a Bitch. Space it out. No two days in a row. This also applied to the younger bar hopping years. 

Fourth, I need my recovery time, or "breaks". While spacing out the social interaction, the time in between has to be what I consider recharging. For me, that means a quiet external world and a good amount of alone time. This, I've come to realize, is one of the MOST important things I need in my life. Even if the "social interaction" only involves an hour visit with a friend. I'm still working on fitting this step into my life and not feeling bad about it. For years I would omit it because it felt selfish, or other people would say it's "unhealthy" to spend too much time alone. It felt like wanting it or needing it was somehow wrong. Like I was somehow wrong. Then I had a child and well, we all know how much alone time that allows for. But now, finally, I'm ready to take it back on the premise that EVERYONE, no just myself, will benefit from it. If I'm balanced, trust me, I will be so much more pleasant to be around. 

And there you have it. A complete over analyzing of One simple problem. There is also a fifth unofficial rule, but listing it would make me feel like an alcoholic....

Needless to say, our recent Holiday craziness left little room for all the rules in my head. I tried to keep a balance and I did make my own plans that included parties and recovery time. But last minute changes and a last minute party threw me into a panic. I'm still not over it.  Basically I just had to get through it, which sucks because I really wanted to be able to enjoy it. I'm on my way back to balance now. I'll be getting back my alone time next week, but seriously sometimes it gets bad. I don't think the average person would understand exactly how bad. If I get too overwhelmed and too knocked off my axis I start questioning everything. I question the existence of other people in my life. I question whether its worth it. I'm sure that seems extreme to anyone that doesn't live in my head, but again, it's a survival mechanism. It just kicks in when needed. 

I'm not sure if there is a solution to this problem, but I do think I can manage it in a way that keeps me balanced and keeps the people in my life out of the line of fire. It will, however, involve me saying no, when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that whatever it is too much. It's a new year. It's worth a try.

Hope, who wishes you all, all the wishes you wish. Have a happy 2014, or at the very least a manageable one.


  1. Okay so this was my Friday afternoon coffee read... oh if only you knew. Much easier to have no friends to socialize with like me! (Why do you think I enjoy running - loner!). Here is to another year! Wow, how many has it been now? Happy 2014 Hope. Cheers from the Tundra.

  2. Thank you! More than a decade of online whining, although I don't think you were present for it all. Happy running! I'm sure it helps with all aspects of life in it's own way. If only I had the desire. :/