I’m pretty sure I’ve previously mentioned my less than social nature. As a child, I paid close attention to what Ima Safety House said (one for the Australians amongst us probably) and I’ve carried those lessons into adulthood. For the non-Australians, Ima’s basic lessons are this: strangers are bad. Strangers are dangerous. If one approaches you, run to the nearest house marked with the Ima Safety House logo and tell an adult. Nowadays, if I can’t get to my very own private Ima Safety House (read: my own home), I run to a bathroom and lock myself in a cubicle until I feel the stranger danger is gone. Or I gravitate towards a corner and stare intently at my phone until the stranger gets the message.
Don’t get me wrong, in the right mood (and with enough alcohol), I can be the life of the party. In fact, in the right mood and even sometimes without alcohol, I can still be exceptionally witty (if I don’t say so myself). Still, it’s not really in my nature when it comes to big groups of strangers. In this type of scenario, my nature usually includes a decent sprinkling of social awkwardness. Let me tell you the story of a recent predicament I found myself in.
I’ve started an internship at the office of a local media/advertising website. It’s nothing flash – just half a day on Friday afternoons (or mornings or the whole day if I want). I just go in and make myself useful (the exact definition of an internship, I suppose. Good thing I cleared that up). Last Friday was my second day/week. I know exactly one person and I sit next to her and she acts as my go-between to the rest of the office. They give her stuff for me to do (and so does she) until it’s time for me to leave.
Last Friday, she told me they ran a really successful event so they were having champagne and beer and general merrymaking at whatever o’clock. Cue a slight thrum of panic in my chest. I hate these kind of things. It’s bad enough when you have to socialise with people you barely know, never mind people you don’t know at all. Plus, you’re only a lowly intern so why would they want to waste their time talking to you?
My first thought was, ‘Am I due to be finished work by then?’ Sadly, the clock informed me that my own personal hell was meant commence one hour before my official finish time and I didn’t think chucking an ‘I have to get the fuck out of here right this instant’ would go down well. Or maybe it would have. Perhaps my fear of disappointing people is worse than my fear of socialising, which is an interesting insight into my psyche now that I think about it.
Back to my panic in the office – I would’ve much preferred to keep working on whatever menial stuff they’d thrown my way. I don’t care how boring it is. I’d rather keep staring at my computer than make excruciating small talk with someone that can’t wait to escape. Data entry? You got it. Socialise? Please god no. I know this is how you eventually turn an internship into a job (or maybe not, I don’t have a clue. I’m just happy to be seeing what these people do) but I. just. can’t. do. it. In fact, if I tried, I think I’d quickly nix any chance of them ever wanting to hire me because I’d come across as such an utter numpty they’d be like, ‘get this awkward chick the fuck out’.
Turns out I needn’t have worried; those 30mins – 60mins of panic were totally uncalled for. Alcohol was delivered to our desks and everyone just kept working. Or everyone in the editorial team did anyway. The events team stood around and drank and chatted. I don’t know, maybe that says something about writers. Or maybe not. I don’t really care. I’m still too busy congratulating myself on escaping a potentially disastrous social experience. I would say one day I’ll get better at these things but nope. That would be a lie.
Image credit: Indulgy