Alone at a Wedding

It’s official. My life has finally become a bad comedy for real.

Yesterday my friend got married. I was invited to the wedding sans a plus one, because I don’t have a significant other. But I knew that another couple from our old work place were invited, and I always got on with them very well, so I knew I would have someone to sit with, and talk to.

So when yesterday arrived, I got myself dolled up and drove an hour to the venue. I got there and gave my friend a hug (I’m not usually a hugger, but I made an exception because it was his wedding, duh). Then he said the words that made my heart sink. Our other work friends weren’t coming. I didn’t know a single other person besides the bride and groom. I was very much alone, in a room full of strangers. Aaaaand cue my social anxiety.

The ceremony was fine; short and sweet. The bride looked lovely in a simple, yet elegant dress of tulle and lace. The venue itself was a school camp, and despite my initial thoughts upon hearing that, it was actually quite a lovely spot. During all that talking, it was ok to sit there quietly, alone. Afterwards, whilst the bridal party did all the official stuff, another guest came to sit with me and we started chatting. As it turns out, her cousin actually runs the networking event that I attended a few months ago, and we had a laugh about a few remembered moments from the night in question. She was quite a character, and I enjoyed talking with her. But when it came time to go inside for dinner, she and her husband were seated far away from me, and I was put on a table with a bunch of middle aged strangers.

The meals were brought out – a serve yourself kind of deal, with roast meat and vegetables – but my stomach was churning and I was unable to eat. Which of course only served to draw unwanted attention, as people questioned why I wasn’t eating, and then cast sideways glances at me while they all conversed. I could read the looks on their faces, and practically hear them thinking how strange and rude I was. I attempted conversation with a few guests at my table, but none were particularly interested and I fell into sitting in silence.

My friend did come to chat to me a few times, but it was his wedding and he had many other people to talk to, so I didn’t want to monopolize his time. A couple of the groomsmen also came to chat a little, but for the most part I sat there very much alone, one of the few single people in a room of couples, and groups of friends. Am I glad I went, to celebrate the wedding for my friend? Yes. Did my solo presence stick out like the proverbial sore thumb? Absolutely. Was I acutely uncomfortable and anxious? You bet your ass I was.

Weddings are not traditionally events that one attends alone. They are a celebration of the very nature of being in a relationship. And there I was, sitting like the loser in every bad comedy you’ve ever watched. The only difference is that my actual life doesn’t come with that story arc and happy ending!

Honestly, it was a lovely wedding and I’m so very happy for my friend and his new bride. But I don’t think I’d be in a hurry to repeat the experience.

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On Social Anxiety, Gift Giving, and Unintentionally Being a Bitch

It’s Christmas tomorrow. The time of love and joy and family and…whatever. It is also a time for gift giving. Now, if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you will know that Christmas is not my favourite time of year. I am the Grinchy Scrooge of Bah Humbugville, and I spend most of December waiting for the 26th, when I have a whole year of freedom before I have to do it all over again. But one of the main things that I don’t love about Christmas is the gift giving.

I can almost hear the collective sounds of eyebrow raising (supersonic hearing, yo) but hear me out. Most people enjoy receiving gifts, whether expected or not. But the thing that I hate about it is having to open them in front of everyone. And my unwillingness to do so makes me seem ungrateful, and rude. The thing is, I do appreciate the gifts at Christmas. But the thought of having to open them publicly literally makes my heart race. I get uncomfortable. I get awkward. I get ridiculously anxious.

Today, I had that experience. My boss came out to work today to give Christmas gifts to me, and Sarah (my workmate). It was incredibly thoughtful, and I was incredibly thankful. But could I express that? Uh, no. I thanked him and then set the box down on the counter to be opened later. Which would have seemed like I couldn’t care less that he had gone to the trouble of going into a shop, and choosing a gift for me, and then coming out to deliver it. Normal people are happy to open gifts in front of the giver. Not me. Despite his insistence that I open it, I just couldn’t do it. My heart started to race, my hands started to shake. And all I could do was try and brush it off. Which I did, effectively. (and then I refused him a high five, because it’s usually my knee jerk reaction when he holds his hand out for one. Even though for once, I didn’t mean to! Ooops.) Anyway, I think I offended him. So yup, I’m a total jerk. Thanks, anxious brain.

Of course, once he had left and I wasn’t being watched, I did open the gift, and it was a sweet, dainty little silver bracelet. I was actually really impressed at how Amy appropriate it was! And I promptly sent him a message to thank him. See, in addition to being plagued by social anxiety, I also have this issue with being affectionate. Which is to say, I’m really not very good at it. I don’t really hug, and when I want to be nice, it often comes out as an insult or something. It’s like, in my head I want to say to people ‘hey buddy, you’re a rad dude and I like your face’ and what comes out is ‘you’re a fucking dickhead’. It’s a problem…I should probably work on that, so I don’t develop Heinous Bitch Syndrome (it’s a legitimate thing, I’m sure of it). Over text message or in writing, I can be nice as pie. Because there’s a kind of detachment there I guess, in the sense that I don’t have to do it face to face. It’s not that I mean it any less, but I just feel more comfortable when I don’t have to be a human in person. There is an actual possibility that I am part robot. I’ll make a note to ask my parents.

So, if any of y’all know me, or will perhaps one day meet me; if I seem like a cold, heartless banshee woman, that’s why. I’m not a cow, I’m just awkward.

The Art of Flirting

I went out for tea with a friend of mine last night. We were sitting there after finishing our meal, waiting, at first patiently, and then less so patiently for the waitress to come and clear our plates so we could order more drinks. (‘Full table service provided’ doesn’t mean much to these people, evidently.) When the somewhat snooty waitress finally deigned to do her job and come and ask us if everything was ok, we decided to order two hot chocolates. As she was taking our order, another waitress came up and stood beside her while she wrote our order down. Then she told us, completely unexpectedly, that our drinks would be free, courtesy of two young chaps who had been sitting outside and thought we were cute.

Never in my life has anyone bought me a drink and I confess, I thought the gesture was impossibly sweet. But it presented us with a problem; how to avoid awkwardness. My friend is in a long term relationship and me? Well, guys aren’t really my thing. Neither one of the lads came up to speak to us personally and I only caught the barest glimpse of them as they walked up to the counter a little later. We told the waitress to pass on our gratitude but when they went up to the counter, we did the cowardly thing and left while they were distracted. Bit of a pussy move, huh? I can practically see you shaking your collective heads as you read this.

The thing is, neither one of us really know the proper etiquette if you will, that is involved in being on the receiving end of a shouted drink. Do you go and talk to the buyer? Do you give them a nod of acknowledgment from across the room? Do you go home and sleep with them? Ok, honestly now I’m just confusing movies with reality again but the sad truth is that I honestly don’t know how to react to flirting. From a personal standpoint, I’m not very good at it. And I’ve never really been flirted with so much as had guys aggressively flirting at me.

I’m not the greatest in social situations, especially those involving horny guys, or even to a lesser degree, guys who just find me attractive. It’s not that I don’t think I’m a bit of alright, it’s just that I’m never interested and would rather avoid that awkwardness altogether. I’ve had a number of experiences with guys who just couldn’t take no for an answer and my polite indifference soon turned to vehement and defensive anger. I’m not trying to be rude but I just don’t want to have a drink with you, or see a movie with you, or catch up some time. It’s nothing personal.

I don’t flirt because flirting leads to trouble if only one party is interested and I’m legitimately never interested. I don’t see the point in leading a person on if you have no interest, all for the sake of being polite or because you’re bored. The problem is that being that I’m no good at it, I don’t flirt with people I find attractive to start a conversation either. Social awkwardness and all that. So really, the moral of this story is that I am destined to be single forever because I have not and can not master the art of flirting. Bring on the cats.

P.S. I actually don’t like cats. Shit. Better think of a Plan B.