In follow up to tonight’s earlier PechaKucha Night in Batavia
This lady was eating popcorn with complete disregard for public safety
I was sitting in a room full of people that obviously have the same kind of interests that I do. But I didn’t know anybody. So I did the next rational thing which is to get on my phone, post on Facebook, and visit the event website. For some reason I had it in the back of my mind this was all related to anime or Pokémon or something.
I read more from the FAQ. This Q/A stood out:
Is PechaKucha Night a social network?
We believe there is nothing social about online social networks, so get out from behind your screen and get to a live event, with real people, real communication…
So there I was at a live event, reading from the event website that I should put down my phone and socialize.
This is a tricky scenario for me. I don’t do well in groups of people, even more so when I don’t know the humans. It’s part of the story when I relapsed. I want to hang out with other like-minded people but group settings make me feel awkward and uncomfortable. Overstimulated. Like I’m in a swimming pool and there’s constant splashing. And too many people talking. And I have water in my ears. And there’s beach balls flying around. And I’m trying to keep myself from drowning. Maybe it’s not exactly like that but it’s close.
Drinking makes social gatherings easier. It lubes the conversations with people I don’t know. It feels like I’m wearing a life jacket when I drink. It takes the edge off. And I have too many edges. Too much shame and too many bullies when I was a kid or something. I doubt if I’ll ever feel confident or at ease in public.
And then also drinking makes me feel normal around other people. Like I fit in then. I’m part of a tribe that I’ve never belonged to. When I relapsed I was in a similar situation, a venue serving alcohol, surrounded by creative people enjoying themselves. And I was out of place. Without social skills. I didn’t know how to swim. And then I got a drink. And then the pool party wasn’t that hard. It wasn’t really a pool party but you get the analogy. And then that one drink last for ten years.
But I wanted to be at tonight’s PechaKucha event, wanted to get to know people in the area other than those in recovery. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter but I also have a magnetic attraction to another set of people, ones who are artistically passionate. Because we’re similar. Same expressive wavelength. The art makers and art lovers. I’ve got something to say creatively, just as they do.
When I read the “get out from behind your screen” line I knew that I was doing it wrong. So I put my phone away and walked over to the greeter who had taken my money when I came in. I asked her how I could get one of the name badges some people were wearing. The lady told me those people were either helping out with the event or presenting that night. I asked her what time would I get to present. Because when I feel awkward I make jokes. She smiled and told me that I needed to fill out a form and maybe I could present at the next event in February. That was good enough.
I then saw Jaime and his wife across the room. He had invited me so I was happy to see him. And he wasn’t with a group of people. I hate when I feel like I’m standing on the perimeter, waiting for my turn to talk. I won’t even bother with that anymore.
Anyways Jaime, his wife, and I had a nice chat about the event and then meditation which was kinda surprising. But cool. Then the presentations got underway.
I left the event a little early to go to a 12 step meeting. I enjoyed myself at PechaKucha, got a dose of artistic socializing but it’s important for me to remember that if I hang around non-alcoholics too much there’s a good chance I’ll start to think that I’m non-alcoholic as well. But I’m not. When I drink at social gatherings I continue drinking afterward at home. On a Thursday night, well past my bedtime. And then when non-alcoholics are having their morning coffee I’m having a morning drink.
So I guess my takeaway for the night is that it’s important for me to get out. Replenish my artistic well. If I sit at home I’ll have nothing to write about, nothing to talk about. Other than my sad songs from yesterday. Well that’s not completely true but you get the point.
And finally social skills are like any other. I won’t be good at them unless I practice. Put myself out there. Go outside. (Albert gasp).
Maybe because I was pronouncing PechaKucha like Pikachu. That little yellow guy with the black tipped ears. ↑