December 18, 2009

An Early Start on the Post-Holiday Funk

As usual I thought I'd try to get ahead on Christmas stuff this year, and instead what I accidentally did was get an early start on the Post-Holiday Funk. I feel like, here we are a week until Christmas and I'm not even excited yet. Maybe the whole thing is a bust.

Paul, who has been my faithful and patient companion for fifteen Christmasses, said kindly, "Yes, I know. This is your favorite Christmas carol." My friend Kara Marie, who is getting accustomed to shoring up my teetering psyche, said, "Dude, what's the worst that can happen if you don't feel jolly? You know? The sun will still come up the next day." My mother, whose psyche resembles my own, says, "IS IT TIME TO PANIC??? SHOULD WE CANCEL CHRISTMAS???"

But look! Niestle is here! She is at my parents' house AS I TYPE!


And perhaps I will bake a Christmassy treat today. And I have some Starbucks Winter Blend coffee I found earlier this week at Target on clearance. And Elizabeth just said perkily, "This would be a perfect day for an outing!" so maybe it would be. And there will almost certainly be more cards in the mail.

But oh dear: we have been invited to a holiday party tomorrow, and I don't know if you know this about me but I am NON-SOCIAL. I don't socialize with people unless they are related to me by blood or marriage and are therefore contractually obligated to like me, or else we've known each other so long that I feel like it's their own fault if they didn't know what they were getting into by choosing to be friends with me.

And I WANT to go to this party, because it is hosted by the parents of William's best friend Clarissa and their friendship is such a nice one it's led me to have little pleasant fantasies about Clarissa eventually being the mother of some of my grandchildren, and also I'm so relieved to see that not ALL my children have been afflicted with my non-social genes. But I am all fretful because...well, because I AM. It's the way I AM. And a thousand people could reassure me that it is no big deal and no one is going to bite me and everything is going to be fine and no one cares how I act GEEZ GET A GRIP, and I could even get it in writing from a deity that everything would go well and I would STILL be fretful, and afterward I would still spend hours/days/years feeling like I arrived/left at the wrong time, that I hogged/ignored the hostess and other guests, that I was too loud/quiet, that I neglected some element of etiquette, that I said something dumb, that my children behaved badly, that I took up too much air and space, whatevs.

45 comments:

Maggie2 said...

I have no useful advice because I am the same way. I have to constantly evaluate what will make me feel worse: would I rather stay home but feel bad that I chickened out of another social event, or would I rather force myself to go and feel bad about my ability to "fit" into a party atmosphere? Sometimes it's worth it to make the effort, fretting included, but sometimes it's just better to stay home. Good luck deciding!

Dr. Maureen said...

First of all, that can't possibly be Niestle because she is only a wee little newborn creature with bird-like arms and legs. So I don't know WHO that baby is, but she's pretty cute.

Second of all, I'm going to reassure you anyway. Yes, I realize that by my saying, "Don't worry! Everyone will have fun and people really do like you!" you won't go, "Oh! Well, there you go, NOW I AM CURED," but I'm going to tell you anyway. Because you are a lovely person with lovely children, and people would not invite you places if they didn't like you!

Maybe you should get drunk first? ;)

LoriD said...

I find it so much easier to be a non-social person at a social event when the kids are there too. Awkward silence in a conversation? Henry needs you. No one is talking to you? You really should make sure the twins aren't making a mess. Take the kids out of the equation and you've only got your own charm to rely on - the kids ARE your charm!

Niestle is adorable!

Rah said...

Not to belittle your discomfort, but I echo Dr. Maureen. Really, I don't think anyone is ever completely at ease in the beginning. Think of a few conversation openers/fillers. People love to talk about themselves, so things like "What does your family do to celebrate the holidays?" go a long way. I am confident that the woman who writes this blog will do just fine!

Jen in MI said...

Firstly-Niestle=adorable! I wish to squeeze her...

Secondly-I am so not social, either. I totally get the doing it because of your kids and their friends. Maddy just started a new school so I lost my small but comfortable circle of school mom friends. Now, I am trying to meet some new moms as I don't want my children to not be accepted because of their reclusive mother...ack! Too much pressure! Probably you don't want to be rip roaring drunk when you arrive, but a nice glass of wine or some other holiday spirits before you go might be just the trick. Also, use your kids as distractions. Henry is still young enough to need immediate! attention! and be hurried off by you to the bathroom, where you can lock yourself in a catch a few breaths...

Yes, I've put too much effort and thought into these things in my own life...

Nowheymama said...

I am a non-social person who married a *really* non-social person, so I get to be the "social" one by default. Where does Paul fall on the spectrum? Is it helpful to have him with you?

As for my non-social spouse, he finds it helpful to be the designated child caregiver at social events. It gives him something to do, and he says he enjoys events more when he's watching our kids have a good time.

heather said...

Would it cheer you up to get an extra Christmas card?? Or better yet, would it cheer you up to get a random Christmas card to score; berate or approve?! I was sending out the last of my Christmas cards last night and found myself thinking... hmmm, I wonder how Swistle would rate this. So even though you don't know me and my family and I only read your blog(s), it'd be fun to send you a card and see how you'd score it... :)
And everyone always likes to get extra Christmas cards, am I right?!!
Send me your addy if you want and I'll stick one in the mail for you!

Shannon said...

Tonight is the hubby's annual office xmas party which I dread going to. Only he has switched jobs this year so it will be a whole new group of people to meet and I am already getting the dry heaves. At least after a number of years at his other jobs I started to know a few people who I felt "safe" talking to or at least recognized and could smile at. I hate starting over! I hate showing up to these things feeling like I'm not dressed appropriately or all the other women there are prettier and more accomplished and definitely thinner! Even though a lot of them are probably feeling the exact same thing! Argh! BUT. Go, we must. So today I'm going shopping for a new...something... to wear. And maybe a pretty sparkly necklace, too. These will improve my confidence and sparkly things distract me from the task at hand!

g~ said...

A shot of vodka works nicely for pre-party jitters.
Ahem...not that I know from experience. But also maybe a brand new shimmery lip gloss...

Erin said...

I'm already dreading a Sunday evening party, which I'm only obligated to spend an hour at. I think I have some real psychological problems.

Alias Mother said...

I am a non-social person who has a job that requires socializing. No, I don't know how that happened, either, but it sucks.

I'm not going to reassure you, because I still have little anxiety attacks before each schmoozefest I enter. Instead, I offer the three survival strategies that work best for me.

1) Talk to the shyest person there. Nothing will make you feel like a social champion and a really nice person more than finding the biggest wallflower and talking to them for a minute or two. Ask how they know the hostess, where they are from, who their kids are, what they think of your kid's teacher. Whatever is appropriate. Do this early on. It will boost your confidence (and theirs) and the look of gratitude on their face will give you good karma.

2) Hang out by the food if you get stuck. Don't hover, but if you start feeling awkward, go to the buffet. It gives you something to do and an opening for a conversation ("Have you tried this? It reminds me something my mother used to make.")(Yes, that is a stupid example conversation, but you get the point.)

3) Make a game of it. Tell yourself you will talk to five new people. Or three. Or one. Whatever seems manageable. Set a goal and when you meet it you can be proud of yourself.

Finally, try to remember that when it comes to parties, most of us are just trying to get out alive.

Jess said...

Well! Instead of empty reassurances, let us evaluate CONCRETE STEPS that will improve your feelings about this situation, or improve the situation itself.

1. I agree with a previous commenter: a shot of vodka is an EXCELLENT pre-game strategy.

2. Don't arrive right when it starts, lest you be one of the first to arrive and then be FORCED to talk to someone you don't wish to talk to.

3. Give some thought to who else will/might be there, and plan a) exit strategies for Unpleasant People, and b) topics of discussion for more pleasant people.

4. Maybe another shot of vodka? Just in case.

js said...

It should be illegal to post photos of ADORABLE babies in footy PJ's. Seriously. I'm pretty sure my ovaries just exploded at that sight. She is...wow. I want one! Mine is all big and 8 years old and sassy, and not a snuggly little bug like Niestle looks!

Ahem. Sorry, let me get myself under control. I vote for the shot (or eight) of vodka too. And someone else's suggestion of talking to the most shy person there, perfect. It will make you feel like freakin'.......someone really social.

Also, I think Holiday Cheer skipped my house this year. I can NOT get into it (and I ADORE Christmas), and I'm finding out many other people are having the same issue this year. Is it the economy? Whatever it is, I hope it isn't like this next year.

Fran said...

1--Niestle = too cute!!
2--I am breaking out in vicarious hives just thinking about a social party
3--my kids have been sick so I am having trouble getting "in the Christmas spirit" myself
4--YES TO VODKA! *quaff*

Alice said...

oh! NEISTLE! hee, looks like she has some of the patented Riley Suspicion going on toward that snowman...

the only thing i can offer about the party is that i have NEVER gone home and reviewed the many awkward moments OTHER PEOPLE had at parties. just my own. and i'm a highly social person who LOVES parties! so i'm totally comfortable and in my element, and STILL not noticing/caring anyone else's awk, just my own. so when i get to the can't-sleep-at-night point of berating myself for being/saying something stupid, i try as hard as i can to think of something awk/stupid someone ELSE did/said, and realize i can't. which makes me feel a little better because hopefully that means no one notices it in me, either.

(i know: still not helpful.)

missris said...

I'm all for the taking a shot of vodka (or whatever) before you go. I had a friend in college who HATED presentations (and he was a business major!) and took a shot before every presentation he gave. He said it really loosened him up just a little bit. Other than that, I'm going to say that I know exactly how you feel and I'm the same way. And it sounds like a lot of other people are echoing these feelings so maybe take solace in the fact that you're not alone in feeling this way? I'm sure there will be other people at the party who will be in the same boat, even if its not a great boat to be in. Good luck!

Swistle said...

Nowheymama- Paul is a mix: he's non-social in that he doesn't SEEK OUT social stuff---but in a social situation, he's loud and laughing and he's everybody's favorite. He always says the right thing, makes a good joke, makes an awkward moment smooth. So he's good to have along, although I feel I suffer in comparison!

Alice- YES. I think Sundry and I must have common ancestors somewhere back a few generations, because my Edward and also my niece do that same Riley Suspicion Face.

Swistle said...

Oh, and I am REALLY finding all these tips helpful. I'm going to have a shot of vodka; I'm going to see if I can go out and buy a new shirt or some new shoes; and I'm going to talk to someone shy.

I'm also finding it helpful to know other people also need Coping Mechanisms.

Lawyerish said...

Ohmygosh NIESTLE. She is so cute and snuggable! {faints}

Truly, most people are socially anxious, and I have gone to work seminars where they offer all kinds of tips to get over the terror at networking events (which are far more horrid than holiday parties because you're supposed to be all business-y and BLERGH).

One tip that stuck with me was to use "What's been keeping you busy lately?" as a conversation starter -- it's broader and less presumptive than "what do you do" and probably will lead into other topics (holiday franticness, shopping, gift ideas, books, kids, hobbies, etc).

Also, I agree with the person above who said that we each spend the post-party time agonizing over OURSELVES and what we could have done/said differently, but not over anyone else's perceived gaffes or slights. Nobody's going to judge you. And really, I am positive that you are lovely and funny in person, just as you are here.

Of course, if you show up with a ginormous plate of mint brownies, I bet you will also make a lot of instant friends without saying a word!

marybt said...

I hate to sound preachy, but go to a church service.

Even if you don't believe in Jesus as the Risen Savior, the service might help put other things in perspective.

As for the party, I understand. Beeen there myself. Just try to remember that everyone else is so worried about looking good that they aren't worrying about you. I mean unless you are a totally obviously horribly obnoxious bitch. Other than that, any small faux pas will probably go unnoticed.

Merry Christmas! :)

Anne said...

Ah, well, I guess I'm going in a totally different direction here.

I used to have a great friend down the street and we both would freak out about attending neighborhood stuff, until I discovered her secret was to do a shot before we left her house. Not that alcohol is the answer. (but it is for me)

I always go over the night's events afterwards and inevitably feel horrible about myself/performance/noise level. I understand and feel your pain. Make sure you go, though. Sometimes it helps if I play a little game, like Christmas Sweater Spotting. Helps if you can whisper to your significant other when you spy a particularly great one (with a matching turtleneck- those are bonus points).

As for getting festive, it will come as you get closer to the holiday. At least, that is what I'm telling myself.

Misty said...

Aw. Poor thing. Just try to get through it and promise yourself to try not to fret about it afterwards. Unfortunately for me, the only time I DO this sort of fretting is when I socialize with my extended family.

*Sigh*

Erin said...

Niesle looks like HENRY! Is it just me? No, she really does!

All that social anxiety you described? It is SUCH a part of being human, that's why we invented WINE.

Farrell said...

I love this:
And Elizabeth just said perkily, "This would be a perfect day for an outing!"

Stimey said...

I used to obsess over things like that at social events. I would go over and over things I'd said and things I'd done. And I'm sure no one else even remembered them, but they stayed with me for a long time.

My Lexapro has helped a lot.

But still. Those situations are tough.

may said...

I think you should listen to Dr. Maureen. I mean, she's a DOCTOR.

And seriously? You ARE funny and witty and interesting and charming and blah blah blah. You don't have anything to worry about, except maybe some of them liking you so much that they begin to stalk you and repeat your jokes afterwards to their significant other and want to hang out every time they're in town. ...Gosh, how'd that get in there?

Nicole said...

Here's my advice:

Invite someone else to come with you, but make sure no one knows you invited him/her. Make sure that person is incredibly boorish/drunk/with horrible evil children who smokes in the bathroom and knocks over the tree and barfs in the living room. Then all eyes will be on that person and no one will even notice what other people are doing. For years to come, people will talk about how horrible that person was. Not only will the pressure be off, but you will have provided conversation for the future generations.

Either that or have a glass of wine before you get there. Either/or.

robyn said...

I am married to a realtor who is invited to lots of schmoozy events, and I used to experience all the exact squirm-inducing thoughts and feelings you listed. In my experience, the more of these things you force yourself to go to, the more comfortable you start to get. After a while the fretting became so exhausting that I just finally (and sort of magically) stopped caring. And then started to get out of my own head, which left me free to focus on the funner elements of the party such as the food, the other guests' outfits/hair/makeup, the pretty holiday decorations, other people's gaffes, etc. So hang in there and fake it until you make it, as the saying goes.

In the meantime, add me to the list of fans of pre-party vodka. It serves the dual purpose of lowering inhibitions as well as making the memory fuzzy.

Amy --- Just A Titch said...

I am Queen of Social Awkwardness and Anxiety. My boyfriend's holiday work party is this weekend, but he can't keep the date straight, so I'm hoping he'lll screw up and we'll miss it all together. I've never been so thankful for someone's inability to USE A DARN CALENDAR. Keeping those fingers crossed!

Fiona Picklebottom said...

I have a holiday party tomorrow night as well (for my husband's office), and I am also NOT SOCIAL. It is actually a running joke in our household, just how not social I am. I will probably spend the evening sitting in whatever chair I plant myself in, avoiding eye contact. If I accidentally make eye contact, I will then nod politely while telepathically screaming to them, "Do NOT come over and talk to me PLEASE!"

Bea said...

I too have a party to go to this weekend. I keep wondering if there's a way out of it.

Linda said...

Ha! I just wrote a post w/ the title FUNK because I am in one. I don't think mine has to do with early holiday shopping, though.

I hate social situations like the party you described. Alcohol - enough that you are slightly less tense, not so much that your inhibitions are lowered - is good. I tend to hate the uselessness of small talk, but in these situations, it's ALL small talk. People tend to enjoy talking about themselves as long as you act interested and are not grilling them. I make useless small talk until we hit on a subject that I actually find interesting and then I can have a real conversation with the fellow party-goer.

What bothers me most about these things is that I feel like I've done SO MUCH WORK to make conversation and look nice and what do I get out of it? NOTHING. I am an introvert and these things just make me stressed.

Marie Green said...

I like Jess' tips.

And I think that it was helpful for me to realize how VERY LITTLE TIME other people spend thinking about me.

I'm a very social person, and make social mistakes all the time. But most of the time, when I then say "Hey, K? When I said the other day, I meant .", I get a big ol' blank stare and then an "Oh... I never thought anything about that".

Really, people will spent next to ZERO time thinking about you when it's over. We are all too self-absorbed!

Marie Green said...

It was supposed to say "when I said BLANK the other day, I meant BLANK". Don't know where my "blank"s went!

Kristi said...

Well, it's kind of nice that The Worst Night Of Your Life will be over and done with at a relatively young age.

desperate housewife said...

I thought this was SO funny: "or else we've known each other so long that I feel like it's their own fault if they didn't know what they were getting into by choosing to be friends with me." Just last night my husband and I were discussing his lack of social graces- basically he dislikes any amount of bullshitting and what most of us would just consider to be tact and diplomacy and little white lies to keep the situation smooth, he considers unbearable- and he said almost verbatim the exact same thing about himself!
Anyways, the only advise I have is to drink, because if you're going to feel icky about it afterwards no matter WHAT, you might as well drink and at least feel relaxed and okay about it during the actual event!

d e v a n said...

oh yes, I am JUST like that... and my dh always says "just don't worry about it" which, he still hasn't learned after 12 years, DOESN'T HELP!

Nicole said...

And I was going to add, as per my above advice, I have many, many relations that would fit the bill. Just let me know, I'll send one your way.

Shoeaddict said...

Niestle is SO cute! I think she DOES look like Henry. I'm also DYING to know her real name, you know that, right?

Also, have we ever seen a picture of Paul? I've never thought about it before but since someone asked if he was social and you said the loud talking thing about him... I wondered what he looked like.

Anyway, I hope we get a run down of the event. Good luck!

Kelly said...

I'm in a funk too so we'll all just have an effing funky christmas!! its OK!!!

and how can that possibly be niestle!?! wasn't she just freakin born? why is she sitting up? what kind of baby swap is this? are you playing with our minds?! didn't you just obsess about the plane ride a few weeks ago?!

holy crap.

anyway, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to feel a certain way at the holidays. just allow yourself to feel what you feel. the Xmas tree will not burst into flames and the kids lives will not be ruined if you are not skipping around the house wearing antlers or bells and singing carols. Its ooookaaaaay.

Anonymous said...

Take a shot before the party. . . leave when the buzz wears off.

Kim said...

A few years ago I would've said "Do a shot AND pop a couple of Vicodin before the party - you'll have the time of your life!" But I'm kind of not allowed to do that anymore, so I don't want to be a hypocrite. Whatever you do, I hope it works and that you have a good time.
Also, I thought I was alone in experiencing the post-holiday funk before the holiday even happens...I'm feeling sad that it goes by so FAST and that I'm not enjoying every holiday-related activity to its fullest.
Even without the drugs anymore, I still have a lot of Issues.

6512 and growing said...

I totally cling to my kids at parties when I'm feeling insecure. Not sure how this will look when they're teenagers.

Jessa said...

Is it okay if I say that I'm almost glad my husband is out of the country until next year because it means I don't have to attend any military holiday parties or functions? Yes, I'll admit it. I'm totally uncomfortable in a group of adults. Give me a room full of kids any day!

Anonymous said...

No, not vodka. Zoloft. Think of all the things you could get done if you didn't have to spend so much time being anxious!