My new grad program likes to socialize.
This is good, because I am bad at creating new friends, so structured opportunities to interact are something I enjoy. And also it is good because so far, I really like all the people in my program.
There is a limit, though, to how much people I can be around before it just doesn’t work.
(Also, then I found the phrase Social Hangover (from Leah Kelly at 30 Days of Autism). And that describes it so well.)
And I’m afraid of telling people that I just met that my words stopped working.
(Also, really, usually at that point I can’t really use them to say that. Boyfriend usually just asks me because he knows that happens.)
We had a fun fancy dinner with appetizers that were handed out by people walking around with a tray and then delicious dinner with meat and yummy bread and things like that. And then fancy desserts which is something I absolutely, positively adore. One of them was caramel flavored and it was wonderful. And the people in my program talk about interesting, weird things, so I generally have no problem with conversation with them because it isn’t small talk, just taking and conversation and INTERESTING.
And we were in this lovely location with just us and a view of the nighttime skyline of the city. And it was quite enjoyable.
But then the music started getting louder. And people started getting drunker, and therefore louder. And because they were drunker, they didn’t really notice that I hadn’t said a word in about an hour. And then they started off to dance, one by one by one by one. And eventually I was just sitting at a table staring at nothing, sort of stuck (which actually happened before most of them left, but at that point, I was already sort of just stuck).
But then one of the girls noticed and pulled me in to dance, so I sort of danced, I guess. Dancing is not my favorite. There are very few occasions when I enjoy it. It is people-dependent and music-dependent and volume-dependent. But I tried to look like I was having fun because they were trying so hard to include me and sometimes I even was having fun. And they would do silly things to make me smile or be less worried about dancing awkwardly whenever they noticed I didn’t seem happy. And they tried so hard and were so nice and that made me happy. Even though it was SO LOUD. But I can do loud for a while sometimes.
And then the faculty members who were at the dinner joined us in dancing. (And seeing a senior, tenured faculty member dance to “Party in the USA” is really a quite enjoyable/amusing experience). And so that was quite amusing and fun for a while.
But then it just got TOO LOUD. And I had to escape.
Luckily, around that time, I discovered that there was a terrace. The terrace was quieter. It overlooked a pond and the skyline of the city all lit up. So for a while I talked to people out there. Then later, as I got more and more tired, I just sort of stood around and followed around groups without really saying anything. Because it was still loud out there, although less loud than inside.
And then eventually we went home, and I went to sleep and I slept the whole next day, too, basically until 4pm, only with a few breaks to get up and eat or take meds or send emails. Because seeing people at that time would not have worked. Full blown social hangover. Luckily there weren’t any orientation-things until 4pm (which was why I got up at 4).
I can’t write anymore ever and I was so excited about all of this blog stuff and about my friends and about figuring out WHO I AM and silly things like that and I thought maybe I would be able to explain myself and explain everything and then it would make life easier.
BUT NO IT DOESN’T BECAUSE LIFE IS STILL LIFE.
And I know objectively I have a really great one and I really shouldn’t complain probably all that much.
And today I had fun again.
We had a board game night at someone’s apartment with cookies and moderate amounts of alcohol. And the games were quite enjoyable and the cookies were really good. And no one was super drunk and it was just us so no strangers.
(And I did have a mini-meltdown on the way there because I couldn’t find the bus and my bag was heavy and then there was a very loud physics professor on the bus behind me once I finally got on the bus and so many noises, but even with that and being a little quiet in the beginning of the event, within half an hour I was having so much fun and was so glad I went, even with my mini-meltdown.
But I think I need to learn to take a break from activities. Or at least some activities.
(I do not go to bars at night. It isn’t the alcohol that is the problem. I like alcohol (well, very specific alcoholic drinks) (aka ridiculously sweet ones). It’s the NOISE and the PEOPLE.) (And going to bars is a very common grad student activity.)
But it’s tricky because the first couple weeks are when the habits and groups and friendships are formed. And in college I sat back because of all the new-ness stress and it took a year and a half to get good friends. And it was lonely.
But LOUD is LOUD is LOUD is LOUD.
And I want to tell all the people in the program that I like them so much and they are awesome and fun to be around but I’m autistic and just can’t physically hangout with them all the time because it just makes me so tied I can’t function. But it’s not that I don’t like them. But I have really only known them a week so I should probably be more secretive about it, especially since I am generally secretive about personal stuff. And I don’t want to use autism as an excuse. Or have them question if that is really the case. (Although I think if I said Asperger’s, they wouldn’t doubt that. But people tend to have a different picture of autism.)
And this is also silly because no one has seemed all that upset or concerned or less friendly because I haven’t gone to EVERY SINGLE SOCIAL EVENT THEY PLANNED.
That’s what I’m up to right now.
But next week, I’ll start classes and rotating, and then I will have more structure, and also the frequency of social activities will probably diminish, since everyone else will also be busier, and that will hopefully help.