I want to get out more often and meet strangers at parties, without the usual excuses that most people have when contemplating attending a social gathering.
I’m not a hardcore introvert that revels in being reserved and I don’t need a lot of solitude. Social anxiety doesn’t paralyze me to the point of panicking at the thought of speaking to strangers in public spaces. My social awkwardness feels normal and pedestrian. A bit of insecurity, a dash of shyness and fear of saying something inappropriate—the usual glitches in self-esteem that most people feel around others to some degree.
And so, before going to a holiday party and gift exchange the other night, at a house in a town in a state where the only people I knew were the two people that invited me, I decided, without forethought of acting in a certain way or saying something specific, to bring something that has usually eased my discomfort when navigating unfamiliar social situations.
I brought my sense of humor. It’s my superpower, release valve, and security blanket.
My ability to think quickly, improvise, and play with words, is my greatest asset. And, the trick for me is to not be too flashy or loud, or try too hard or too much; but wait for the right moment, in a pause in conversation, and the right context—to say the one thing that will be memorable to the strangers in my midst.
To make an impression by saying something provocative and funny.
So, when I went to select my gift at the Christmas tree, I stepped up boldly and asked the group to raise their hands if I should open it. The masses spoke so I did.
It was a large plastic jar of mayonnaise.
Appalled by the incredible lameness of the present, I dared not show on my face the crushing disappointment I felt. Instead, I said with an exaggerated smile of delight:
“This is exactly what I wanted! I’m saving it for the orgy later.”