Isolating and the Social Dilemma

I’ve had two different drs tell me now that the best thing you can do for your brain is socialize – not to isolate. One actually went through a list of his favorite bars for a meal and company he thought I’d like. Which is… not something that would have happened seeing a dr. where I used to live.

I was thinking whether I’m more isolationist out here than I was before I moved. During covid, no, I think it’s about the same if not better from a socializing POV. Even pre-covid though, I’m not sure that my efforts to “get out and about and people” are all that different. If I had to pick a difference, it’s just that in my former home, I had enough friends where, generally, if I wanted someone to go to a game or play with, I could, or I could go alone, and did. Or if I wasn’t feeling especially brave to go out and meeting new people/do new things alone, I had friends I could meet up with for dinner, invite over for games or have a knit night. I do miss that here. 

Image through a paned window of layers or yellow, orange, pink and purple sky at sunrise over rooftops

I’ve got 3-4-ish meetup groups that I do stuff with sort of regularly. And it’s fascinating to me to see which ones I’m excited about, which ones I know I’ll enjoy if I just go (but convincing myself to go is a lot of energy sometimes), and the one that I’m like, gah… do I have to? The one I love is a table top gaming group. They meet once a month at a public library. So it’s a safe, public place, I don’t feel like I have to buy anything (unlike when it’s at a game store), and I feel comfortable. There’s something “lightening” about socializing, getting to know you(ish) over table top games. It’s almost like you accidentally get to know your table mates. It’s very casual and low key. And I didn’t feel like I was “too much” or didn’t fit in. Ironically, since it’s my favorite, I won’t be able to hit another one until May with all of my travel/company coming to town.

The next two I generally like while I’m there, meet a couple of folks I like, definitely get the endorphins in of having socialized, but is “effort”. They’re my knit pub nights and my monthly sewing at the library group. The knit one is run by someone I really enjoy, and I’ve met a couple of folks I really enjoyed as well. But, well, it’s sort of a mousey group? Lots of introverts, which, hey, me too – but I’m the kind that can do extroverted social settings fairly well if I can hermit after for awhile. I almost feel like I’m too much for the group – which is one of my least favorite feelings while I’m socializing. But I came to socialize while we have the common interest/excuse to be there – knit, have a drink, eat. So when hardly anyone is talking. It’s just… gah. I mean – christ, talk about what you’re working on, spontaneously. Or ask someone else. In any case, it’s hard for me to relax when I’m actively trying to encourage conversation without dominating it. I’ve never had this issue with knitters before. I’ve been to plenty of knit groups/nights with huge extroverts. Maybe it lends itself to quieter folk because it’s a meetup group? I’ve been told there are a couple of bars advertising knit nights. Maybe I should try that and see.  It’s sort of the same-ish with my sewing group. That group is newly formed, so I think they are still trying to figure out what they want to do. Generally, the demographic trends toward my own age or a bit older, women who seem to be professionals or were before they retired or cut back. It unsettles me a bit? It’s a bit of “this is my future?” I guess? They’re really nice though, and I think I might fee more comfortable there over time than with the knitters.

Image of blue sky and distance ocean from a rocky island with rocks and a little inlet river in the foreground

The last group – well, I contemplate leaving it on the regular, so I’m not sure it’s worth going over. It’s oddly cliquey for it’s “common theme”. And I just don’t have patience for that shit.

I do other things like go to plays or museums and sports (read: hockey) games. I always make sure to chatter a little with people around me. But that’s also superficial, time limited and I’m mindful not to expect much engagement since folks usually are there with people they wanted to be with. So fine, but maybe less quality socializing. I’d rate it similar to eating dinner at a bar and chattering with people around you. Very light touch, very pedestrian, not particularly socializing well-filling.

Image of white haired woman whose head seems overly large as compared to the “castle” in the background

And I think that’s the thing that’s been hard – I’ve typically been the person who enjoyed one small handful of close friends, and not super into meeting and keeping track of the lives of a lot of people. I want real connection and meaning. And that takes time to build. Which is fine, but oof, it makes doing the light beer version of socializing So.Much.Harder to want to do. And yet, I should. 

What’s your take away from all of this? I should just keep trying 🙂 and maybe try and find another gaming group that’s in a safe, public space and join in so I can do the thing that feels the most comfortable, that I genuinely enjoy … more? Yeah. That.

P.S. I’ve clearly seemingly abandoned all notion of having images related to my topic at hand. Except well, sunrise in your home when you live alone – that isolation thing. Same thing for the island you can get to only at the lowest of tides, and the big-head pic 🙂 is me at Crane Castle before an evening play in their ballroom. So. Ya see. All more or less relevant.

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