Why I’m Not A People Person

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of fun with my limitations. And acknowledging my lack of ability to be a 48 hour party person is just the beginning of what I’ve admitted I can’t do. For example, I need to go to bed at 10:30pm, even on the weekends (unless I am going out). I refuse to schedule too many things on weeknights because after work I like to eat, watch TV and very little else. I have even started blocking off whole days for myself, not to work or write but just so I can rest and do nothing. It’s been wonderful.

Today, in the glowing hangover from last night’s big house Halloween party, I’m ready to acknowledge another one of my limitations:

I am not a “people person.”

I don’t hate people. I like people. I just don’t know what to do about them while they are still just “people.”

I am a “friends person.” Throughout the course of my life I have been lucky to have a number of truly wonderful, caring and interesting friends that I love spending time with whenever I can. They are creative, intelligent, funny, thoughtful and bright, each one a precious treasure that I can’t imagine how my life would have turned out if they had not been in it.

I am a “coworkers person.” I’ve had a variety of different jobs (barista, dishwasher, janitor, groundskeeper, videographer) and each job came with it’s own array of personalities. I’ve been a bottom-rung employee, a mid-level office worker, and I’ve even owned my own company. I know how to behave as an employee and as a boss, and with the exception of a Halloween to Christmas stint in a mall-centered Caribou Coffee, an unpleasant experience with a stalker at Target and a smattering of ruffled feathers here and there, I’ve enjoyed working with pretty much everyone.

I am a “family person.” My family is pretty small, just two parents and a sister, plus a husband and his parents (no siblings on that side). I have heard many people recount horror stories of high expectations and judgmental gatherings. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had plenty of screaming matches, my family and me. High school was basically a cold war between me and my sister that would occasionally explode in a towering inferno of “you’re fat no you’re fat.” There are definitely still times when I get the feeling that maybe I’m not living up to the potential my parents see in me. But for all these rough edges, nothing has even been so bad that I would ever consider skipping a Christmas or forgo birthday greetings. Not intentionally, anyway.

But I am not a “people person.” It’s the reason I hated my first week at kindergarten. It’s the reason that the word “networking” makes me itch. It’s the reason I tend to hide in corners at big parties, ripping the labels off beer bottles, rolling them up into little paper balls and dropping them into the potted plants. Unless I know you are a potential friend, coworker or family member, I just do not know what to do with you.

I know it doesn’t make sense. It would be much better, and more fun, to think of you as a friend that I haven’t met yet, and I think I am going to try that approach in the future. But for now, if you find yourself in a conversation with me and I seem anxious, reluctant to make eye contact or I depart the conversation quickly and without warning,  don’t take it personally–I’m just trying to work out what kind of people you are going to be.

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2 Comments

  1. yeah… I like to think of myself as a “persons person” but not a “people person.”
    Also, I like talking when there’s stuff to talk about, not talk for the sake of talking. Networking gives me hives.

    Like

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