|The Morgans in "The Bean." Chicago Millennium Park, June 2009.|
Whenever I spend more than 10 minutes alone with someone that is not a family member, I get anxious. And then I become a little too aware of my breathing. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, in...
And then I think to myself,
Is she going to ask me how I am? I don't want her to ask me how I am.
I suck! Isn't that obvious?
Why am I here? Maybe she just wants me to say that I'm okay.
Well, that's stupid!
Why ask me how I am if all she wants to hear is that I'm okay when I'm really not??
So I'm really here to make her feel better. Oh, great.
And before I know it, I'm red in the face and wondering why I agreed to have coffee in the first place.
But I'm so afraid to alienate myself from the friends that care about me, despite the stupid questions, awkward conversations, and my tendency to create drama in my own head. The reasonable side of me knows that I should stay social and see my friends. However, the unreasonable side of me doesn't want to have heartfelt conversations about my feelings. I'm too damn angry.
Here's the thing: I can handle being in a crowd of people. Strange but true. Invite me to a party and I'm there. I'm at my best when all that's expected of me is small talk and polite conversation. You can tell me how sorry you are and I'm okay with that. I can move around, not stay with one person too long.
Of course, I realized this only today, which meant that I missed an opportunity to say goodbye to a friend this weekend. And I missed his farewell party in the park. With lots of people. And I missed an opportunity to be social but still be by myself.
Conclusion: I can still be alone in a crowd. So let the partying begin.