Practice Makes Perfect

One of the things I’ve noticed about myself recently is that I’ve become really testy and irritable around other people. Mind you, I’ve always been testy and irritable around strangers, but lately I’ve been that way even around people I love. I noticed it most recently when I was home for Thanksgiving, and it bothers me.

I’m not a terribly social sort of person and since I’ve been in Charlotte, I’ve been even less of one. After nearly six months, I don’t really know a soul here. That’s not a whine nor a rant about how hard it is to meet people in Charlotte. It’s just a statement of the facts; making friends has not been a priority for me. In fact, it’s not something I’ve been particularly concerned with at all.

Most of the things I like doing are just as easily — and sometimes better — done alone. Group activities don’t hold much appeal for me; I’m not the type to join clubs or that sort of thing. When I’m in a group, it’s generally a group of people with whom I’ve been friends for a long time, most of whom I “accumulated” individually over a long period of time. That group of friends, though, is not anywhere near Charlotte. Many of them are in San Francisco, while others are scattered about the country.

So why are the second and third paragraphs germane to the first? It’s because I sometimes wonder if I may be losing the knack of social interaction. I’ve always had a rather tenuous grasp on it to begin with, but I’m spending so much time alone right now that I think I may be losing what few social skills I have left.

For almost six months, I’ve been living in a new city. I’m not working outside the house right now. Mark is on a two-month long assignment in San Francisco. The only people I know well enough to visit or spend time with are miles away, in Greensboro or the Triangle or even farther away than that. Thus, I don’t really spend any time around, well, anyone much other than the salad lady at the cafeteria. And I seem to be growing less adept at it even when I do find myself around other people; it’s like pulling teeth to engage me in even the simplest conversation.

It’s almost as if I’m looking at social interaction as some sort of disturbance which gets in the way of my ordinary routine. It reminds me of years ago, when I worked in retail. I’d sometimes be alone in the store for hours during the after-Christmas downtime, and I always found the one person who’d come in while it was slow much more annoying than a steady trickle or even a rush. I think it’s because during the rush, I didn’t EXPECT to be left alone to read my book, so it wasn’t so much of an “imposition”. Similarly, when I’m spending time with friends and family on a regular basis, I’m “better” at it. Practice makes perfect or some such.

I should try to meet people, I guess, but I’m not sure that I particularly want to. I’m even less sure of how to go about doing so at this point. Like I said, I’m not a “joiner”, even if there were some sort of social- or hobby-related group which piqued my interest, which there isn’t. Bars are out: queer bars in particular are essentially useless for anything other than drinking or finding sex partners, neither of which I’m interested in. Finding a job “on the outside” might help, but probably not very much since I’m a big believer in keeping my professional and my personal life pretty well segregated.

Like I said, this is obviously not a big priority for me. I miss all my current friends and wish I could spend more time with them. I miss Mark like crazy. And I very much enjoy spending time with my family. But my feelings about these people come from my long history with them; I don’t crave “friendship” per se any more than I ever craved some vague notion of a “romantic relationship” just for the sake of having one. While it would be nice to have some chums to share dinner with on a Friday night, I’m pretty comfortable by myself or with my hubby most of the time. But still I think I should maybe make the effort.

Should I worry about the fact that honing my social skills might be my primary motivation for making new friends in Charlotte? I can’t help thinking it wouldn’t bode well for the kind of friends I’d ultimately make…