Is there anything you despise more than mingling? Probably. Is there anything I despise more? Mmmm, it’s a close call. But if we’re talking things we despise that we’re actually forced to partake in, I think mingling reigns unchallenged.
I cannot stand the concept. Nor do I understand it. Though I’m not sure these factors are mutually exclusive–at least completely. They say often hate and disdain stem from a lack of understanding. But I think, with this particular subject, misunderstanding is not the prime culprit for my dislike as much as being an introvert with social anxiety who prefers independence. It’s a close call, I know. Honestly, though, what I do understand about mingling is perhaps the very reason I don’t appreciate the concept… and the fact that what I understand about it conflicts with my introverted, socially anxious independence.
I think of mingling, I think of a hotel lobby or a front room of a booming business, attempting to masquerade as an exquisite ballroom (like that of the “Beauty and the Beast” 2017 remake), trying to house such an obscene number of people, it’s almost as though the organizer of the event really did believe the lobby-turned-ballroom to be of actual ballroom size. I think of extremely breakable, grossly expensive chandeliers cascading from high ceilings, complementing the identical, significantly smaller lights serving as centerpieces for high-top tables down below. And that’s another thing–high-top tables. No chairs. There will be no sitting tonight, so if you need to faint or, more likely, sit, don’t. You will be expected to stand the entirety of the evening, no need to sit. Talking can be done in any position. Any situation.
Very true. But when I think of mingling, I think of stiff, claustrophobic, all-around uncomfortable occasions of distinction. Though, in reality, mingling can happen anywhere and everywhere.
I suppose why I view it so negatively entirely pertains to my experiences and my lack of especially positive experiences at that. Now, I do have some factors working against me here with the shyness and the introversion and the, oh yeah, social anxiety. But am I expected to internally combat all those facets of personality in order to rub elbows with in-field contacts and potential “buddies”? Ya, you betcha.
Believe it or not, though, I’d like to think that I wouldn’t mind mingling so much, if I could just figure out this one small thing…
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO SAY???!?!!?
Honestly. Anytime, I’ve had to go to a mingling-centric shindig, I try to make sure it’s because I’m part of the group running the show–I’m on staff, I’m volunteering, I’m doing something. Because, as part of the staff, I’m not expected to talk beyond what is required of me in my role (i.e. my small-talk is cut to a minimum). But, as an actual attendee, so much more seems to be expected. And that’s where I fall flat. I have to talk to people, make conversation, and appear all-around “normal.” Which, for me, is easier said than done. I mean, have you ever heard someone with social anxiety try to make conversation? Actually, you probably have; it’s not great!
It’s just, at these events, I know no one, except my co-workers who I try (and fail) not to follow around all night like the socially incompetent sap I am. Yet, I’m just expected to, what? Find a fellow loner in the avalanche of people and attack them with mundane small-talk? “HELLO! WHAT’S YOUR NAME? HOW DO YOU FIT INTO ALL THIS????? I DON’T LIKE THESE EVENTS EITHER? OH, YOU’RE THE PRESIDENT OF THE HOTEL WHERE WE’RE HOSTING THIS EVENT? Oh… Awkward…” Or, even more rude, insert myself into a tight circle of suits discussing who even knows–nothing I can probably follow–and interrupt merely to introduce myself.
And, on the off-chance I somehow haven’t committed a social faux pas up to this point, then what do I do? How do I continue the conversation? Chances are we don’t have much in common–at least not the kind of things you can find out without deep conversations, not something that’ll likely happen at a work-related social event. (But, I’ve been wrong before…) Or do I merely parade around the room greeting everyone like some kind of adorkable puppy? Hi guys! Hi guys! Hihihihihihihi!!!!!!!!!! Woof. Actually, you know what? Maybe it’s just better if I stay by the wall…
Actually, lurking near the wall, twiddling my thumbs, watching the crowd from afar comes off as somewhat stalker-ish–I mean, unprofessional. But, I’m not sure the above options paint me in the best light either. Which is why I’d rather just stick to attending only the events I’m staffing; then, I have an excuse to be weird and disruptive–I’m just doing my job! Or something. 😉
Sooooooo, yeah. Mingling–can’t stand it. Hope you tolerate it more than I!