The awkwardness of forced socializing

Human beings are social animals. When my civics book claimed that, I could see how it made sense. I could not enjoy my lunch all by myself. It was always fun to have as many members in a pitthu team as possible. When my best friend left town to meet her grandparents, it made me upset. So it fell into a completely logical place. I think this blog itself to one extent is a reflection of this desire of being social, albeit digitally.

What I fail to see however, is why would someone force socializing on another being?!

Here is what I am talking about: My parents would have endless friends. Most of them would have kids in my age group (+- 4). The worst times of the childhood were when we kids would meet, not get along and would still be bound to ‘go and play’ almost once every 2 months. So while I recognize that unwarranted gatherings will invariably be there, I have always been looking at ways to get past them.

Societal games

My parents got me a lot of board games. I can say beyond doubt, board games are a comfort, at least in situations when you don’t really understand what else you can ‘play’ within the house, without breaking a glass. Also, my parents loved buying educational games. So the likes of Memory, Word boggle and Branvita easily got added into my favourites. I was quick and sharp in these games. So these social gatherings became more tolerable. But it wasn’t always true for the other party (the other kid). For all you know, he might suck at those games and would want to play carrom. Then that became a question of who was the host of the party. If you are partying in my home, you have no option but to play what I offer. So even though you see the carrom board peeping from behind the almirah, I cannot remember where I kept the stricker. And since it’s my territory and we are both forced to stay within it, you got to play by my rules. That I think is rule of of handling the social gatherings.

The situation always favours the host. There are times when I have witnessed exceptions though. For instance, if you are the host, but your parents tend to favour the other’s child over you. Though this will not happen very often and I would never wish this upon any kid, I think at times it happens when your parent’s perception of an ideal child is met more closely by the other kid. In that case, in their attempt to ‘help you become better’ they may intervene and favour the external party. Too unfair. That moment either makes the two of you, enemies for life, declaring a cold war, or if the parents are lucky, you actually get their point.

Subconscious reactions

There are days when you meet your friends and wish your parents and their parents got along. That would mean more time to spend with the people you like! Even though you try real hard and it may in turn become a reality for one off case, it is a difficult bet. So the mind starts plotting its own zone of comfort in unpleasant social situations. l remember counting the number of balloons in one such birthday party. I would estimate a number and see if the actual matches the estimate. Their can be any version of the balloon story the minds develop. But one thing is sure, you sub-consciously develop your own dialogue when you can’t have one outside, without sounding offensive. Another way of enjoying the moment is when people are able to create their minds space in their surrounding. For instance, when I met these ‘friends’ I would wait for the discussion to move to ‘how I am a good girl’ or ‘how my school was amongst the best in the city’. Those were things that concerned me. I had an opinion about them and I get the opportunity to share my mind. Another case would be, when I downplayed the fact that I wasn’t the host, and got my way of spending the evening. This last one wins for being the best possible scenario!

On growing up

With time, you have to consciously get involved in forced gatherings. You know they are ugly. They don’t relax you. The spoil your TV schedule and eat into your ‘me’ time. But they are all around. Of so many people I meet at so many different places, not many seem to enjoy, unless they are their my their own will. But they are trapped their like a mouse in a trap, only entering it by choice. Choosing against will, is one of the traits of growing up. So while childhood has taught me multiple ways of turning the perceived drudgery into a fun time, I do have some key guiding principles.

  •  The larger the gathering, easier it is to excuse yourself.
  •  Closer the relationship dynamics, larger the role of mutual consent.
  •  For unavoidable situations, offer yourself small enticements.
  •  Always keep some board games.

Choosing your best way to turn an unwanted meeting into a pleasant time is one of the timeless arts one should not have to do without. It takes some experience, experimentation and an inevitable role of gut. The character that it builds is another key dimension you would seldom appreciate. But if you pull this well, there is one thing less to fret upon. Looking at the frequency of such situations one encounters, the subconscious weighs mastering this art over the risk of going gaga. But for all the mastery and lessons, those occasions that fail to attract you, as a grown up you can choose to reject. THAT indeed is growing up!

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