You are going to the gala, right?
"Yeah. I'm volunteering, remember?"
"No, are you going?" she said.
In that moment I realized my attendance is expected. But it's more than that. I'm an introvert and still dealing with the impact of being fairly isolated for the better part of my life.
Maybe this is some kind of test to gauge how much I've learned in a year. Or, she's testing my social skills. All of the above. Or, maybe she just wants me by her side for a night out. A working night out. A different kind of work. The part I am terrible at. The part I can't fake. The part that will showcase my ineptitude at peopling. The part that will take so much out of me I'll need several days to recover.
I really want to love this side of life. The social life. The galas and networking events. It's for the skilled and experienced. I'm still in the developmental class. I've been here for a while.
My parents failed me. Isolated me from a full social life. Sure, I went to school. Didn't miss a beat even though I hated it. Once a week I'd go to my aunt's shop so she could do my hair. Went to dance and gymnastics classes sporadically. I spent most days alone or with my twin. We never had parties or people over. Once a year we'd go to a family holiday party (or we'd host it). We stopped taking trips to see family, I assume when we were too old to share a room (the 4 of us).
Friends and adults came and went. They stopped enough to see me. Then they were gone. I don't remember being upset about the disappearance of our neighbor who took me blueberry picking. It's was my first time eating blueberries. One day she and her son were just gone. The husband was still next door. I remember the artsy classmate whose room was a mess and home looked and felt lived in. I used her art supplies the few times I visited. I have no idea what happened to her. One time a woman watched Jess and me for a day. A white woman. I can't remember her name. She worked at my school I think. We had fried dough that day. I don't remember seeing her again after that. It didn't phase me. I think I gave up on people a long time ago.
I never learned the importance of social interaction. Of having a tribe and being actively involved in people's lives. My point is I'm not good at peopling because my parents weren't and still aren't. The reality of what that means is starting to hit me--especially as I think about navigating this gala next week.
Back to this gala and my boss. I know she means well. She an amazing leader. I am incredibly fortunate to be working with her. She is sharp, she has a strong presence. She is fair. She goes to bat for her team. She knows her shit. I wish that I was everything she thinks I am. I wish I was half of who she is.
I know the best solution is to bring myself and be myself, and not avoid going. Stay tuned.