My mother used to say the worst thing about getting older was seeing her mother’s face when she looked in the mirror.
No matter how pleasant your upbringing, there’s resistance at the idea of becoming your parents. And lately, even though I’m not seeing my mother when I look in the mirror, certain aspects of her personality are creeping into mine.
My mother is a very shy person, uncomfortable at parties or meeting new people, while I’ve always been a social butterfly. But slowly, over time, I seem to have developed this aversion to social obligations–you know the ones. You feel obligated to go because you love the person who invited you, but that’s the only reason you’re going. And the person who invited you, since she is usually the host, will not have time to say much more than hello.
My mother would dread this situation, while a social butterfly would recognize the opportunity to meet new people–perhaps even strike up a friendship. Somehow, I’ve moved farther and farther away from who I used to be, and become my mother when faced with one of these “forced” invitations.
It is only when I’m dragged to one of these events, kicking and screaming, that I realize “Hey, I’m actually good at this! I can start up a conversation with almost anyone, and I always meet someone interesting.” Why, then, all the dread? (My mother is also a champion worrier–she will agonize over things that never come to pass. Seems I’ve inherited that characteristic as well.) I’m in public relations, of all things–it’s my job to mingle and network. I’m a journalist, used to making cold calls and convincing people who don’t know me that they should talk to me. So why do I panic at the thought of making polite conversation with someone’s co-workers, family, or friends?
It boggles the mind.
I’ve actually lost friends because I couldn’t bear to attend their obligatory get-togethers, when it turned out they really needed me–and expected me to be there. You’d think I would have wised up by now.
So, adding to my pile of New Year’s Resolutions is this–I’m going to say yes more often. While I can’t possibly accept every invitation, I’m going to attend whatever social obligations I can without worrying or fretting about awkward silences and lousy conversations. If it ends up being an awkward evening, it’s only one night out of my life, right? What’s the worst that could happen?
Have you ever experienced the same aversion to social obligations? Any idea where it comes from? Anyone else becoming their parents? What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you at an event?
I should add that I love my mother dearly, and there’s many aspects of her personality I’d be proud to call my own…just not this one. 🙂