A friend of mine, needing a plus-one for a Saturday wedding asked me if I would like to go. I should preface my response by saying that I was asked the day before which would normally illicit a “Hell no!” but as I was in my ‘Carpe diem/every day is an opportunity/I love people’ phase, I said yes.
And so begins the sad and sorry tale of an introvert behaving badly. Or, the day I was plus-one at a wedding.
The day began beautifully. In the morning, my friend and I hot-footed it to Barneys where I picked up a gorgeous pair of Tabitha Simmons satin pumps. I planned to team said pumps with a cute dress and an Alexander McQueen bag. Outfit sorted, made-up and dressed, I WAS READY!
First to the ceremony, which was traditional and sweet, with lovely teary-eyed friends and relatives. I should probably mention that I didn’t know the bride/groom or anyone else there except my friend and two other people I had met through her.
We all trooped outside for the photographs and as we watched I happily conversed with other guests. So far so good – I was a socialising machine!
Onto the reception for pre-dinner drinks. This is where I began to notice the time drag as we waited in a too-crowded bar area to enter the reception room. My conversational skills were starting to wither as the crowd and the noise started to permeate my brain. However, I was buoyed by the knowledge that we would soon be sitting down and eating, and I felt some relief because the last time I checked it was considered bad form to eat and talk at the same time.
Things then went to from ‘meh’ to well, awful. I hadn’t heard the beginning of the saying of Grace. I had also failed to notice that everyone elses head was bowed and hands clasped in prayer. How didn’t I notice? Because I was too busy tucking into my entrée.
A swift elbow nudge from my friend alerted me to my error. I was mortified and as soon as it was appropriate I apologised to the entire table for my mistake. I received some warm smiles in response but it did nothing to deaden the anxiety I was beginning to experience.
The main meal came and went, as did the speeches etc. Within minutes of the music beginning, I found myself sitting entirely alone at a table that had just seated ten. With the three people I knew no longer in sight, I started to desperately alternate between looking at my phone/going to the bathroom/sitting there like a deer in the headlights.
My friend and I had earlier discussed a leaving time so I watched the minutes tick by. That time came and went, and down I descended into a panicky spiral of part-grumpiness for feeling abandoned, and part self-pity for pretty much the same reason. I can’t imagine what I must have looked like sitting there with my stony face. No wonder no one wanted to talk to me.
This is also the point in the story where I got it spectacularly wrong. What I should’ve done is necked a couple of drinks, taken a deep breath, and trotted out to the dance floor. But no, I was paralysed by my desperate need to no longer be where I was. It was these feelings that prevented me from thinking clearly and rationally. My friend came back to the table and I gruffly said something about wanting to leave. She told me I needed to chill (fair enough) and that perhaps it would be an idea to go and wait in the car. As my self-esteem plummeted to zero I realised I was being treated according to how I was behaving – like a child.
The drive back was excruciating. I had lost the power of speech and my friend’s body language made it clear she was not impressed with my behaviour. Once safely inside, I fell onto the bed and cried.
“Why did I agree to go?” I asked myself. But perhaps what I should’ve asked was “Why didn’t you have a strategy in place that would help you in this situation and not make you behave like a complete arse?”
Being introverted and knowing yourself is one thing. Expecting people around you to accommodate you is another. I learned another valuable life lesson from this experience – for crying out loud decline the invitation if you can’t trust yourself to be cool at a social event, AND most importantly call an Uber so your friend can stay at the wedding reception and have a good time.
Over to you! Has your introversion dictated your behaviour in a negative way at a social event? How did your deal with it? Feel free to share in the comments below.