Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My "Social Experiment"

I used to think that being social came naturally to some people. You know, the kind of person who has something to do every night of every weekend for as long he/she can remember. I'm trying a little 'social experiment' of my own which I think will turn into a permanent change in lifestyle. Every night that I don't dedicate to studying (and by nightfall I'm usually ready to call it a day) or class, I make at least one concerted effort to hang out with at least one other person. I recently broke up with my girlfriend, and I knew I needed to find something to fill the sudden vacuum that had appeared in my life. In fact, I had so much spare time that I just couldn't healthily fill it with down-time alone. In the words of Bill Cosby, "I'm no good on my own!"

It's a new and uncomfortable way of life and this post is for people who wonder if they can make a similar transition.

First off, it's hard! I'm beginning to suspect that it's hard for everyone and that my natural inclination is quite normal. Sometimes I just want to retreat into my shell, stay in my room, read a good book, be a little self-absorbed. I think that eventually I will need to find a balance between social life and me-time, but I think me-time has won out far too often in my life, so I'm trying this alternative for a while.

Organizing a party or calling up some friends is nerve-wracking and time-consuming. I'm plagued with a thousand little doubts about the quantity and variety of food I should make, if any; the number of people who will actually show up, if any; overshoot and invite the whole ward + grad school program or be more selective (or is that rude?); invite people in person, which I find exhausting and/or implausible, or by some electronic medium? Don't get me wrong, I love people and enjoy company and lots of it, but being proactive in this department challenges me.

Secondly, there have been days where I have felt like I need time to myself. So far, I've been ignoring that impulse usually to discover that I was shying away from the responsibility, not the time spent with friends. Just keeping at it I've discovered that people reciprocate, after a while. I've just had to remember this: people aren't used to this, my being interested in their time and lives, and they need time to get used to this change.

Thirdly, I've found that this new lifestyle, as challenging as it is, is worth every effort. In the past month I have had so many fun times with so many new people that I continue to be astounded at the sheer number of great people that live in this world, former strangers, former names and/or faces.

Gradually, my set of challenges is starting to change. Instead of wondering what I'm going to be doing on weekends, I've started to juggle my options. Now I'm having to deal with making sure I remember to invite everyone who might be interested or they'll call me out on not receiving an invitation. Now I start to crave a variety to social situations (because, honestly, how often can one guy play Settlers of Catan?!). That's not to say that this has become easy. I think I'm still a fairly private person and I'll often take the easy way out in social situations, but I'm progressing and getting closer to the kind of guy I've always wanted to be. Let me just say this in conclusion, it's hard but so totally worth it. If you need practice, just call me and we'll hang out.


  1. Hey, I got to you through Micah's blog and was wondering if you could give me some tips.

  2. I'm impressed. I've never really got to that point.

    The thing that I've found interesting is how much I still need that external social interaction. Being married and having a child hasn't supressed my desire to get out there and be social, it's just made the excuses much easier to come by. I guess we just need to start making those invitations again.

    I will say we did invite a few different people over for games this weekend. That's a step in the right direction, right.

  3. Hey, thanks for commenting on my blog. Now that I have a holder of multiple English degrees in my audience, I'll have to be sure that all of my references to literature are extremely well thought out and that my writing is edited extra carefully!

    I agree, being social does take work, especially when you're new to an area or are otherwise looking to make new friends. Like you, I've found that the best way is to be proactive. Instead of waiting for an invite, throw the party yourself.

  4. Found me you did! Here's the trick: Thursday mornings at 10 am in the middle of the month. I wish you the best of luck. Also, if you have something you're planning on studying whilst you wait in line for hours and hours, Murphy's law will probably get you out of there quicker. That was the key in my case.
    And about this post, I go through phases and while I am naturally a seeker of social interaction, I've had my down times as well. BUT I've learned that through it all the key is two-fold: Be kind. Have faith. That's it. And it's still hard sometimes!

  5. Adam, that is so strange that so much of this was like what I was telling you the other day!! I feel like while in my case it wasn't so much a set out goal/plan, I can empathize quite a bit with your changing a lifestlye to a more social one. I've found that it was especially hard at the beginning, was a gradual process with one event at a time, but after the adjustment it almost feels just as strange not having social activities now! Despite popular belief, people can always change, but it usually just has to start w/a decision to do so.