This is the time of year for office parties, family reunions, New Year’s Eve parties and holiday parties in general. Are you a party animal or a party avoider? Do you go to parties because you want to, or out of obligation, or not at all?
Extra Credit: How many parties are you likely to attend between now and New Year’s Day?
I’m not likely to attend any parties between now and the start of 2011, to be honest – and if I do, they’ll be relatively last-minute things, as I haven’t been invited to any parties of this writing. My mother-in-law had her traditional tree-trimming party early this month. I missed my agency’s holiday luncheon because I was out of the office that day (which spared me from hiding in my office to avoid it, as I usually do). We will get the extended family together on Christmas Eve for dinner and gifts, but I don’t count that as a “party,” and my husband and I will most likely be home by ourselves on New Year’s Eve, I’m fine with that.
I’ve never been a party girl. The fact that I was already married and a mom while I was still in college means I missed out on some of the prime partying years, so I haven’t had much practice. But on top of that, I tend to feel out of place in crowds unless I have someone (or a few someones) to make the rounds with me, especially when the party is in a dark and noisy venue and I can barely see who else is there, let alone hear them well enough to have a conversation. If I’m mostly on my own, and I’m not well acquainted with many of the other people there…well, it’s just not my idea of a good time.
My very favorite parties are my nephews’ birthday parties. There are family and friends there that I don’t often see otherwise, and my sister and brother-and-law always prepare great food and create fun games for the guests – adults and kids. I definitely go to those parties because I want to, and I’m sure the fact that I know everyone there is a factor.
It’s not that I’m unfriendly, but I do find it difficult to initiate conversations with strangers, and I’m not particularly good at small talk. One reason I’ve been drawn to the online life is that I’m not nearly as intimidated by communicating with people in writing, and it gives me the feeling that I already know them when, and if, I get the chance to meet them in “real life”. (I’m married to someone I met that way, actually.) But when I meet people off-line, I’d rather have the chance to talk with them in someone’s home, or over a meal or coffee, and not hollering at each other while other people swirl around us in a noisy crowd and the music drowns out conversation anyway. I have an introvert’s temperament, and all of that just drains me.
I’m more comfortable hosting parties than guesting at them, because at least that gives me defined things I’m supposed to do, but I do that rarely now, and if I do, they’re pretty small, informal get-togethers. I was a “faculty wife” during my first marriage, and I both hosted and attended a few parties every year in that capacity, but I always felt a bit out of place. I no longer have that responsibility (or that husband). Most of the larger parties I’ve gone to for the past several years – aside from my mother-in-law’s – have been associated with blogger gatherings, and I prefer those on a small scale as well; lunches and dinners with my book-blogging friends during the LA Times Festival of Books are much more my speed than the crowded cocktail parties at BlogHer conferences.
I’m definitely at the “party hardly” end of the spectrum – how about you?