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What is the meaning of life? Being a constant ponderer, this crops up a lot for me.

I might have mentioned that Xmas is not my favourite time of year. In fact, I find it quite stressful. So many social gatherings that I have no interest, no desire to attend and yet the pressure to go along is intense. The disappointment, the suspicion others show when I express reluctance is a very real thing and this is what makes it a hard period for me.

I consider myself quite a solitary person. Yes, I have friends whose company I enjoy and, yes, I have a long term partner but I also cherish the time I can spend alone. I have come to especially cherish the times when I can, without guilt, say ‘no, I do not want to go to such-and-such’ but, honestly, those times are so rare. When I do say no, I say it with such trepidation, with a voice in the back of my mind threatening consequences, waiting for the other person’s face (usually that of my partner) to drop. I try and think ahead for what’s coming up and negotiating with myself as to what I can get out of and what I simply must attend, no ifs ands or buts.

But shouldn’t we be allowed to choose whether or not we want to attend something (within reason)? If there are too many events or this particular event is with a group of people I don’t feel very comfortable with, shouldn’t I be allowed to say no? If I’m not going to enjoy myself, should I have to go?

Last year, I tried to set myself a challenge to ‘be more social’, to ‘meet new people’. In many instances, it worked well. And in others, I had not-so-pleasant times. I now know more about how I behave in groups, the groups I can get by in and those I simply cannot.

This year, I think I want to take it easy on myself. Try and do the things that make me happy and not force myself into things I know I won’t enjoy just to please others. Of course, there are some things you must go along with as part of a couple but not everything is mandatory.

I don’t know. Is this selfish? I don’t feel like it is. I feel like it’s necessary.