Friday, November 6, 2009

Net work

It's becoming easier for me, this cocktail party chatter. Ten years ago I would have dreaded going to a party with a lot of people I barely know. What would we talk about? Wouldn't I be exposed as a fraud, someone who didn't deserve to be honored with the same faculty title as those around me? I felt sorry for those who tried to make conversation with me. I was ill at ease, and I tried too hard.

In five minutes I'm going upstairs for the last of three parties tonight. Yes, I know the people at these parties -- some of them, anyway -- better than I would have many years ago, when I was just starting to travel in these circles. But I wouldn't call very many of them friends. The party I'm about to attend is likely to be full of strangers. But I'm not disinclined to go. I feel confident that I can listen well and speak appropriately. I think I can strike a balance between talking about myself and being interested in those I talk to.

Somewhere along the line I crossed a barrier between introvert and extrovert. I miss that woman who used to seek out solitude and avoid unstructured social encounters ... not that much, but I do miss her. Now I'm a social butterfly. I stride fearlessly into the room, accept my drink, and even give out the cheek-kisses of a class to which I never aspired. I'd be a stranger to my younger self. And that stranger is off to mingle now. Ciao!

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