I need a long time to prepare for a big night out. Like at least three weeks, there’s a lot more mental preparation than just deciding whether to wear the LBD or jeans and sparkly top. I know, I know, spontaneous nights out are usually the best, I know, but I’m not exactly 21 anymore. Gone are my days of a phone call at 7 and you’re in the bar for 9. then up bright and early for whatever I have the next day. I’m definitely shy, but I never really identified it as social anxiety but I have to go out tonight and I’m stressed! I’m writing this post on a Saturday morning and will publish on a random date in October so as not to identify the people or the night out involved.
Recently I was given this article, 23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert. I am definitely an Introvert. I don’t identify to all the points there, but I definitely feel this article.
1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome. I love the idea of going to parties, meeting new people and expanding my social circle but I run out of things to say once the initial what’s-your-name-where-do-you-come-from-what-do-you-do’s are finished. Once I’m comfortable I’ll open up and find my feet. But how to give the impression I’m not just being closed and ignorant? I find it’s easier in one-to-one situations – to have that long catch-up chat after not seeing someone for a long time. I don’t shy away from it, I mean, small-talk isn’t a nightmare, I’ve got my stock questions and wine always helps loosen my reserve!
10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long. This is true, I’m always knackered after a night out. It doesn’t help that bars are open until 3am now. And if you’re really scraping the barrel Subside’s open til 6am. “Everything introverts do in the outside world causes them to expend energy, after which they’ll need to go back and replenish their stores in a quiet environment“. I need a few quiet weekends after any big night, to relax and recharge and get myself straight in the house and in my head before heading anywhere again.
13. You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation. Seriously, seriously don’t like this. When I was a child I just felt stupid going to the panto and shouting at actors who clearly knew that the the wicked witch was “behind you!”. Dumbass. People dressed as animals or those gold and silver street performers that follow you down the street, you can chuff off too, I’m on to you.
20. You look at the big picture. This is more a thinking thing, at work I prefer to know why I’m doing a particular task and where this little bit fits into the whole process, and what that means in the context of the company. Knowing where I sit in the bigger picture is really motivating.
23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity. It’s all about balance, nights out vs quiet nights in. I need that balance. One spontaneous night and another about six weeks in the planning all I want tonight is to stay in and veg with the TV.
I have to really prepare myself for a night out. If I’ve only got a few days I can’t always get in the mood, I’ll feel crap in everything I try on and if I’ve already got something planned in between I can get really tired easily. Then I need something to buoy my spirits a day or two before, because if not then I can start to have doubts and really not want to go. This morning this is how I feel. Last night I was worse, I just wanted to say fuck it and call my girlfriends and open that bottle of prosecco that we’ve got in the fridge. But I’m going.
Night-out preparation usually plays out like this :
1. Get annoyed at fat arse and fat belly and fat arms and fat chin and fat legs. Nothing to wear so I go back to the old reliable, denim mini-skirt and black top with long sparkly earrings. Get annoyed with hair so just go with the straighten then hairspray upside down look.
2. Leave the house, all excited but bloody hell it’s raining so hair’s going to go all flat. Walk to the bar or the train station or bus stop. Start thinking I’m not going to get drunk tonight, I’m going to be good and not write-off Sunday. I’ll only have two glasses of wine, not spend too much money, then have a really productive day tomorrow doing housework and buying the things I need, like tights and the new series of Modern Family.
3. Arrive at the bar or the house and momentarily become the life and soul of the party. Then I go to the bar and it’s two for one cocktails so I have a cocktail. Well, two cocktails. Or in a house I get a glass of wine that’s not measured and ends up tiny, so I think “I’ll need three or four of those before it kicks in”.
I never thought of it as social anxiety before, that was more for people who had no friends and stayed in playing internet games every night. Maybe it’s not, maybe it really is a matter of feeling comfortable with where I am and who I’m with. Maybe that’s why I prefer house parties, you’re surrounded with people you know, you haven’t had to pay to get in, you don’t have to stand at the bar waiting to get served with all these big men glaring at you because you’re not pretty enough to dare to pop your hand on the bar ahead of your turn. Yes, it’s nights out, not nights “in” that freak me out sometimes. It’s going to bars with all that loud music and beautiful people in lovely dresses with curly hair and the expectation to be lively and fun.
And the later the start time the less enthusiasm I have, especially if I’ve been kept waiting. the “yeah, yeah see you about 7 o’clock, I’ll text you” turns into “we’re still not ready, should be about eight-thirty”, 9 o’clock comes and I’m bored of waiting, I’m not going now. You’ve messed me around for two hours, man – what makes your time more important than mine? In that two hours I could have had more than a quick sandwich for tea, or put a washing on or stayed a bit longer with my sister or my Mom at lunch-time. Why is your time more important than mine, why do you think you can keep me waiting for so long? Because I’m me, I’m shy and I won’t confront you about it. That’s why.
This is where continental Europe is way better than the UK, there’s not so much expectation on anything, you can go into a bar or a club in jeans and t-shirt and have the same experience as if you were dolled up in heels and a tight skirt. What if you even end up having a better night? Because you’re comfortable with yourself? You can go out at 7pm, or 11pm, the bars will be open, and you never have to pay to get in and you can go home whenever you want because busses and taxis run through the night. You can sit in a bar all night, you don’t have to dance, the music won’t be too imposing and it’s lovely and w·a·r·m. I love Europe.