I'm not an advocate for publishing two non-review posts in a row, but something strange has been on my mind after a recent event. I think the only way to stop thinking about it so much is to write it down. I hope.
I plan to participate in NaNoWriMo 2013. I may have mentioned that in an earlier post. I am also attempting to become more social. It may or may not be obvious through my posts on here, but I am an introverted, antisocial person, by choice and not by choice. I'm also shy, which hasn't helped at all. I have always felt like my company was a burden, and rarely try to make conversation with people. I feel better when they try to talk to me - and keep talking to me. Then I don't feel like I'm being a bother.
Do any of you ever feel like that?
Well, my effort hasn't been very successful. Most of the time, people take my silence as arrogance, or so it seems. They try to talk to me, and then stop. Or I think I can be myself, and I say something or a series of things, and I guess I come off too strongly and they search for other company. I've become so accustomed to not having a real group of friends that now I don't even want to talk, or even be in the situation that would permit conversation with new people.
But lately I've been trying again.
The aforementioned event, NaNoWriMo 2013, was having what they called a 'kick-off party' this past Friday, in anticipation for the actual month of November. I thought, if there are any people I'd get along with, it would be fellow writers. And what more, as a kick-off party, I felt certain it would be especially welcoming to newcomers. Because that's what NaNoWriMo wants: more people to join in the struggle towards 50,000 words. More people to sit down and write.
I wanted to meet people but, beyond that, I wanted to meet people at an event conducive to making new faces feel more welcome. I wanted to be around people that didn't have their group of friends already, because I lost that group a long time ago and thought I'd try to form one again. It didn't turn out that way. I only learned more about myself during that kick-off party.
That people will only try to talk to me once, and then write me off (oh see the pun) as either being arrogant or simply not worth the time. That people always already have their group of friends, and that they stick to those friends. That I don't fit in with any stereotypical, categorical group, including writers, even though I write. That I hate the bar scene and avoid alcohol with reason. That meeting compatible people has been the rare occasion in my life.
I have my boyfriend, I have my online friends, but outside of them - here in NYC - I've rarely met people who just clicked well with me. After I lost my group of friends - after high school - I had on and off friendships in college that didn't last. I had friends but I wasn't one of their close friends. I didn't try to keep friends. I was used to having none.
After the event on Friday, I realized how important it is when I meet someone that gets along well with me. Someone I can approach without feeling like a burden. And it made me remember someone like that, someone who, thanks to my already-developed inability to form friendships, I can't find now. I'm trying to find him, but it feels impossible.
It was the summer before my sophomore year in college. As an honors student, I had to do community service. That's how I met him. It was an event at a school in August of 2009 - they needed people to help paint the school new. I didn't know anyone there and was prepared to spend the next hours doing only what I had to do, while avoiding to the best of my ability any situations that would make me uncomfortable. By then, it was easy for me to feel uncomfortable. I was already accustomed to staying home when not in school, playing games in my room all day. I was used to having so much trouble making, and keeping, friends.
I met him pretty early in the day. He was on a ladder, or chair, or something - it's hard to remember some of the details of that single day, four years ago - painting a section of a wall above the section I was painting, and he almost dripped paint on me. He made a comment, and because I laughed, he spoke more to me. He was so easy to talk to, and so easy to act myself around. He made me enjoy that day. And it all happened thanks to something small and stupid.
Oh, and for all the music-lovers out there, you can imagine how I felt when, after I already realized how nice it was to talk to him, I heard through his headphones the Black Mages' "Those Who Fight Further." He's easy to talk to and he's listening to one of my favorite songs! I wanted to say I knew what song it was, but kept quiet because, again, I was already used to not taking action on my thoughts and ideas towards people.
Of course we went our separate ways eventually that day, but he always acknowledged me when he saw me. And that's when I screwed up. My mom called my phone to let me know she was outside of the school, ready to pick me up. I wanted to find him and say goodbye, and see if we could keep in touch, or if he at least wanted to. I really, really wanted to, but I let myself stay in my nervous shell and left without saying a damn word more to him, or seeing him.
It's 2013 now, and I can't find him. I know his first name, what year he was in, that he was from my college, that he liked the Black Mages, but nothing useful that would help me find him. I know that, that day, 35 people from the honors college attended, and he and I were one of them. But I can't find him.
To anyone that has friends or is social, this probably seems like such a stupid thing. But that's what I want to make clear here. This person that I met at a small community service event four years ago - who I spoke to for the first and last time that day - he had a lasting impression on me because he tried. For someone as antisocial, introverted - as shy as myself, his actions spoke so loudly that they've left a permanent impression on me. Few in my life have ever made that effort.
I remember small details about that day, and about him, because as someone who has trouble speaking to people, I watch and listen. I noticed everything he did and said to me. He made me feel comfortable. It's one of my larger regrets that I never got his full name, or said goodbye.
I was probably another of countless people he met and spoke to. He was social. I knew that much because, even though that day was the first that we spoke during, I recognized him from an earlier community service event that year. He was with a group of people making them laugh. The polar opposite of me.
I don't know what I hope to accomplish by searching for him. What good will it do when I find him? He won't even remember me. And how crazy will he think I am for searching for him, over one single day four years ago? He would never understand the impression he left on me, or why one was left in the first place. But I guess...the least it would accomplish - giving me the chance to know his name, and say thank you - would be sufficient in its own way.
I wish I could meet more people like him but...it's not something I have control over. It happens when it happens.
All I know is this: the next time it happens, I won't make the same mistake. No more regrets.