I Know I’m Asocial but What Are You?
It’s a thing nowadays.
You say you’re anti-social and people know you’re being cute.
You’re shy maybe and don’t like to socialize. You’d rather hide out in your bedroom and talk to the people who inhabit your computer, your books, fictional or otherwise. Society has burned you one too many times.
So it’s all good? Yeah? No one’s going to force you to talk to anyone, right?
Wrong. Everyone talks.
Can’t avoid it really. EVER!
And the thing is, how you’re describing yourself is an ACTUAL THING.
We, asocial people exist and societal functions can be an actual torment for us.
We are NOT anti-social. We are NOT a trend of speech or choice worded clichés.
It’s NOT a thing, but who we are and most of us, if we’re honest, wish we were not so impaired by it, especially since it feels debilitating almost ALL of the time even when we try to force ourselves to “grow out of it” or “be grown-up about it.”
Those asocial persons existing in the realms of society understand fear, a crippling sort that overtakes the nervous system and brain as if the person dwelling inside has no control. The embarrassment of simply being, so mortifying that even before we go out, we’ve reached cartoon levels of shame.
If you can’t grasp what I mean, imagine Tom [Tom & Jerry], the way he goes red, the alarmingly garish red, the way steam comes out of his ears and his head lights up on fire and then how he burns to a pile of ashes. His anger, disappointment, guilt and embarrassment over being outwitted by Jerry (just a mouse) turns him into rubble.
This experience is not new to us. We know this bizarre concoction of emotions, intimately, probably from the first cognitive moment of being alone in a group and feeling nothing but the compulsion to run – run far, far away – despite all our desire and longing for acceptance and friendship.
We are NOT anti-social. Our participation might be limited, our faces in a permanent grimace or frown in groups and partying or clubbing something we only do under duress, but none of these things make us anti-social.
Asocial persons, while usually fond of the night, do not hunt in packs or actively plot to destroy society as we know it. We do not hate you social creatures, navigating and sashaying through life with an ease that we’ll never know.
Okay. I lied.
There might be a little hate-mongering going on, but it’s fuelled by envy and the way life looks so simple to the rest of you. Knowing you can walk into a room of people, immerse yourself into the crowd and just go with the flow; not knowing how ill at ease the rest of us feel simply by knowing we have to walk into the room and make small talk or the guilt that comes from being unable to actually manage more than a cowering, stuttered conversation with each person who blocks the path to that corner table where we can sit and skulk or hide out until forced back into the fray of things.
We wonder how is it possible we can be so elementally flawed in this aspect when we care, really do care about certain persons who surround us.
We DON’T choose to be this way either.
I hate that my skin flushes and perspires even before I attend events for my children. I hate that my hands shake and revving myself up, pep talking myself into going about social events is a thing I have to do. That no where, no one feels comfortable, no matter how long I’ve known them or how nice they might be.
The scrutiny of me thwarts my every preplanned thought and action.
And boy do I ever plan. It’s a battle to manage such things.
Having to look someone in the eye, much less making eye contact with an entire table or standing persons flays me. I want to tuck tail and scurry back to my bed, hide under my comforter.
And I’m not saying some days I don’t manage; I do have friends afterall.
We all do, somehow, some way.
We teach ourselves key phrases for making small talk and if we interrogate you with the fervor Sherlock tackles mysteries, it’s because we’ve no idea how to carry a free-flowing conversation without keeling over from fright.
I practice under my breath while getting ready to go somewhere or in my head when my family’s around. Other times, I ignore my thoughts – do my best to shut off any brain activity until it’s absolutely necessary – and then pray to God that no one is offended by my overly sensitive accidental insensitive sensibilities or interrogatory tactics.
Because I miss things in my terror.
I might forget social niceties in favor of remaining calm or abandon conversations and people with short exit statements, leaving them confused but clearing my way to escape.
Other times, I get pulled into a loop of conversation that I’ve no idea how to end. The other person oblivious to my rapidly intensifying panic because my politeness is dwindling and I’ve nothing else to say without reverting to topics familiar to me, such as my life story or zany sarcastic retorts, neither of which would be appropriate in the situation.
We both leave scarred and wondering what the heck just happened.
Such a lovely person until… yeah, I know.
I am best consumed in small portions – intense, weirdly so, but deliciously rich, complicated and only leave a bad aftertaste if left too long.
It’s a thing, I already know about myself.
My asocial traits, instead of getting better with time, seem magnified by age, parenthood and one too many moves.
The older I get, the less grown-up I feel and it certainly doesn’t make “growing out of” or handling these effects as “grown-up” … possible. All things, many people told me would happen.
These behaviors cannot be explained away, nor are they much tolerated in our grown-up, socialized-saturated world.
You are expected to make small talk, to carry conversations, free thinking… free flowing and at the same time, exude a polite veneer that puts the world around you at ease.
Never, in all my life, in all my practiced efforts, in all my desperate attempts have I believed myself capable of doing these things.
I fail spectacularly, regularly.
This does not mean I give up though. Or that I stop caring for those people who I’ve offended unconsciously. Or that I don’t berate myself daily for not being capable of such small tasks such as these.
And when life gets overwhelming and unbearably out of my control because I am asocial and incapable of changing my biological make-up to my satisfaction, I write.
So do not say we’re not capable of communicating.
We can. We do.
If I am under my comforter while talking to you, what of it?
It’s a thing.
I can do in my pajamas, and my glasses sure are cute.