I see you standing there in the corner, alone. This party is too big and busy for you and I know how you feel. I always feel uncomfortable in places/situations like this. I don’t know how to have fun with 30 of my closest friends because I don’t have 30 friends, and my anti-social teenage years have left me ill-prepared for such large gatherings. I stand in the middle of the room, looking around for a conversation to join with people I actually know. But as I scan the room, all I see are acquaintances, and it’s at times like these that the loneliness of crowds pierces me to the core.
I watch as you shift uncomfortably from foot to foot, pulling at imaginary loose threads on your sweater vest. I want to escape from here and you can come with me, if you like. You look about as awkward as I feel, and I want to rescue you. I’m trying to think of some way to approach you, but I’m no good at small talk and, really, does anybody actually like small talk? I want to come up to you and say “hello” and maybe find out your name, but you kind of remind me of a deer—shy and beautiful, breath-taking but easily scared away—and I don’t want to inadvertently shine headlights in your face.
I am momentarily mesmerized by you, and the thought that you might be a kindred soul leaves me inwardly smiling. But then someone accidentally bumps my arm as they walk by, and I’m jolted back to reality. The only reason why I even came here in the first place was because I didn’t want to make the hostess feel bad by telling her I couldn’t come. She’s my friend and I really do like spending time with her, but I never feel comfortable at parties where most of the guests are people I don’t know.
I’ve never thought of myself as shy. For years now I figured I was just antisocial, but lately I’ve been wondering if maybe that’s not right, if maybe I’m just introverted. Maybe it’s not a personality defect, but just a personality trait. Either way, I feel so distant from everyone here and the pressure to socialize is suffocating. It’s not that I don’t like people—I do. I love hanging out with a few close friends or having long one-on-one conversations. And I’m wondering if you feel that way too.
So if I walked up to you and told you my name and made some awkward joke about being a wallflower, do you think I could elicit a small laugh from you? If I mustered up the courage to tell you, a perfect stranger, that I always feel weird at parties like these and that I’d rather be somewhere quiet where I could get to know just one other person a whole lot better, do you think that the corners of your mouth might start to turn upwards, even just a bit? If I pointed out that the night sky is clear tonight and that the stars and the planets shine brighter and sing softer than these heavy incandescent bulbs, would your eyes light up at the idea? I promise that if you made some corny astronomy-related joke, I not only wouldn’t think it was lame, but I would actually find it kind of cute.
So if I asked you if you wanted to get out of this place, would you follow me out the door and into the great unknown?