I went to my work holiday party and it was not horrible. Though, the day prior to the event, and leading up to when I arrived, I felt all twisty inside my guts.
This was the second party I attended in the last decade (I think?). Unless you count group meetings at church events or bible studies. Which I don’t.
The day prior, HR handed me a ticket to get into the venue, which included a plus one. Hello! When I signed up I did not ask for a plus one. I said I’d be going alone. It was just a ticket they gave to everyone, but I resent the idea that people feel pressure to be partnered.
I was too busy during the week to think of looking for a dress. There was no dress code, yet still, I decided I must wear one because I never do anything special. I went shopping literally the hour before and I did find a very nice dress but no dress shoes and I so I wore my boots which didn’t quite go, but I can’t let these kinds of things keep me from living my life. I’ll just have to be tacky.
The anxiety built after I got home and so after scrounging for any reasonably matching shoes (which I didn’t find) I started frantically looking into the unpacked boxes for a purse (my typical purse is quite big and just wouldn’t do). I found something okay, but also a little tacky. But then decided again, Fuck it. I’m still going.
The last obstacle was realizing that I’d very likely have some sort of alcoholic beverage and probably shouldn’t drive. Which is probably good because even though I’ve lived in or near this city for several years I can get lost very easily anyway. And so I downloaded Uber, which gave me an intense amount of anxiety from a social standpoint.
From a progress standpoint, this is symbolic event in the war against social anxiety. I’m crushing it! So, I got into a car with a stranger twice that evening and I didn’t get murdered, not even once! The possibility of getting assaulted was actually less anxiety provoking than knowing how to interact socially with a stranger in their own car.
The small talk, ugh. At least I’m learning how to do it. I can generally keep a conversation going with anyone at this point (practice makes…not so sucky) and yet I feel like such a fake. I had to rate my Uber drivers (I gave them 5/5 for not murdering me) and noticed that they also rated me 5/5 (for not throwing up in their cars, I’m sure). I had no idea that they even could rate me. I felt a bit like I was living in a Black Mirror episode
I got to the venue at the party was very large, about 500 people. It was filled with numerous opportunities to learn social dynamics, not just as an observer, but also as a participant. One of the first things I noticed is that I am dwarf-sized compared to everyone else. This is not something you notice when your work environment involves sitting down all day.
I noticed that several of my male co-workers stand way above 6ft and the females all wore heels, making their boobs at my eye level, which can be a plus or minus depending on your perspective. I apologized for making them squat so that they could take selfies with me. It’s bad enough you have to wear heels, I said, now you have to squat as well. I’m so sorry. This is supposed to be a party, not the gym.
Oh, [Quix], you are so funny, they smiled.
Nearly everyone who knew me asked why my husband wasn’t with me. Rather than lie I told them. Rather than giving me looks of pity, like I was expecting they would, they briefly looked sad and then smiled and said “Okay, well…now you really need to drink it up !” and enthusiastically made drink suggestions. Which was much appreciated on my apart. No one likes to feel pitied. Or to feel sad at a party.
What threw me off was the amount of affection that was being tossed around. As I don’t often (well, until recently never) go to parties I wasn’t expecting it and was not sure what to do with it. Nearly of my coworkers and even supervisors gave me a hug. You’re here! They exclaimed with big smiles on their faces.
Under the influence of alcohol people wanted to tell me how they really felt. The general sense was that I was object of adoration and affection. This is, in some sense, not a surprise to me. I am not the most popular but I am very well liked by the people who do know me.
Then why can’t you call someone on the phone to hang out or pick you up to take you somewhere? Why didn’t you tell someone you wanted to spend New Year’s Eve out and about? Well, I guess I haven’t gotten there yet. Shut up, self.
It is a bit…uncomfortable…to let little parts of myself be seen by people in my “real” life. It’s not as terrifying as it once was. Because now I don’t care as much. It helps to realize I’m not special nor alone in my suffering. Everyone at that party was looking to connect with others. People open up to me, even more when they have been drinking. They all want to connect.
Was I? Not really. I was just looking to develop some social skills and not sit around my house like I always do. Like I’ve wasted my life doing.
I did get to practice some more of being “me” in public and I think that is very good for me. I had absolutely no desire to pour my heart out crying about my circumstances, which is probably what I would have referred as “connecting” before. That’s what my therapy is for. What I want to do is have fun.
I hung out mostly with Halloween Party girl and My Little Pony girl, two extremely different people whom I adore. The benefit of exposing yourself to being social is that you are exposed to different people, some of whom turn out to be fucking awesome.