Skinny Daily Post

Invincible.

For someone who’s an unabashed and self-avowed introvert, I lead a relatively extroverted lifestyle. For one thing, I make a living working with hundreds of people every week, facilitating group meetings. For another, I’m partnered to a charming and outgoing guy who is actively social and quite gregarious. One of the agreed-upon bylaws of our relationship is that I attend – at least occasionally—social functions where he interacts with friends and colleagues.

This is all by way of explaining the four pieces of See’s candy that I downed in one gulp last night. You see, a friend of my partner was having his 40th birthday party, and I went as a means of fulfilling my social obligations (plus, he’s a really great guy). Ironically enough, I ended up going alone since my partner had to be out of town. Prior to my arrival at the door, I rehearsed a few ‘ice breakers’ in case I ended up stammering in embarrassed silence. (Hey, its happened to me many a time.)

But despite smiling, despite channelling ‘relaxing energy,’ and despite my rather cute ice-breakers, I found myself gravitating towards the food table like a moth to a flame. People were pleasant and conversational, I was made to feel welcome, and the atmosphere was friendly. Nevertheless, my inherently non-social instincts led me to feel claustrophobic, nervous, and jangly. For some reason, I knew that chocolate was the answer. After all, it was the answer at the last three parties I attended this year. Along with cake, cookies, nuts, fried things and well, anything processed. Sadly, veggies don’t do the trick.

Honestly, I don’t want to live in a hole, and I love to be with my partner when he’s out and about, watching him in his element and hanging out with his amazing variety of friends and acquaintances. I’ve tried eating before going. I’ve tried going to the gym right beforehand. I’ve tried visualizing myself having a good time. These all have a positive effect, but don’t completely do the trick. So last night, four pieces of See’s candy disappeared in a flash.

After that, I pretended my cell phone was ringing and I excused myself to ‘go outside for a moment.’ And then I walked home.

If you like people but don’t like parties, have you got a trick? Do you fall into the chocolate cake, or have you got a good veggie strategy? I’m all ears. And mouth.

10 thoughts on “Party Monster

  1. Connie says:

    Jonathan, did you ever think that by allowing yourself 4 pieces of candy, you may have prevented or at least delayed the urge and/or necessity of scarfing the rest of the goodies presented? We do not have to completely forgo all good things. It’s the moderation and conscious ability to “only take 4 pieces” that counts. Be proud of yourself. You have ample opportunity to deprive yourself at many other times (as you probably are doing today). I’m not talking about going crazy, but knowing you are going to be at a party, just tell yourself that you can have “this much” for the evening. After that you are “full.” Sometimes the thoughts in our head of the deprivation and the anxiety of the moment combine to make us feel worse than the situation calls for. Besides, if you have already decided what you are going to “let” yourself have, alot of the pressure of what to eat, how to act in front of others that are eating, and wondering if the food is going to save you go by the wayside. I am an introvert myself and find those situations disheartening also. But I do find that by picking and choosing what to eat and how much, I am concentrating on something else than how self conscious I feel. By then you have talked with several people who are also at the food table and maybe even sat by and talked with someone who is eating to console themselves like you would have done.

  2. Laura says:

    Jonathan – Good for you! First, you went to the party alone & we all know that can be scary; Second, you chose a “10” item to eat (if it’s not a 10, why bother?); Third, you got yourself out of a situation that you knew you might not be able to control. AND, you walked home & got some good exercise! I’d say you handled this very well.

  3. sara says:

    I have been at parties where I feel uncomfortable and I just try to find one person that is as uncomfortable as I am and chat it up with them. I make sure to keep my glass full. That takes care of the whole hand-to-mouth nervous thing.

    The more you attempts you make at small talk the more likely the panic button will not go off and you will be able to enjoy yourself at gatherings.

  4. sara says:

    Connie is right. At least you didn’t binge. That is an accomplishment in itself.

  5. Blader says:

    Hi Jonathan, Do I ever identify with what you’re saying. I always feel awkward when more than 3 people are in a room and I usually gravitate towards the food too. With new goals in mind these days, I find that having a drink in my hand really helps. I get a diet drink and sip as I wander and talk. Gives me something to hold onto and something to do with my mouth while thinking of some witty remark lol! If the food is especially tempting a hot drink will do a better job at distracting me.

  6. Quinn says:

    Ohhh! Boy! Can I ever identify with this post.

    I *hate* the idea of parties. Mind you, whenever I actually make myself go, I usually have a good time. Sometimes a very(!) good time! And ten-to-one most of the other people there are every bit as anxious as we are. Maybe not for the same reasons.

    My trick is to grab a glass of something – veggie juice, gingerale on the rocks, water on the rocks, virgin mary, whatever – so that I have something lo-cal and nonalcoholic in my hand that I can sip for comfort. Or just hold onto for comfort. 🙂

    And since I have such a dull life, learning to get other people to talk about themselves helps a good bit.

    And it is not neccessary to stay until the last minute. One can go home anytime. Well, anytime after thanking the host/ess for throwing the party.

  7. kathlyn says:

    Wow, it is so nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way at parties! I am really shy, and I don’t think I’ve every gotten through one of these things w/o binging.
    I hate it when people offer me food, and I somehow get up the courage to say no thanks, and they are like “what, are you on a diet or something?!?!?” Why is it that it’s unacceptable to be fat, but also unacceptable/taboo to be on a ‘diet’?

    Anyways, I wanted to say I love this column, and I have a question unrelated to the above… Every one seems to say that exersizing should help w/ depression. How long should it take for that to happen? I have been exersizing regularly and eating healthy (read: not self medicating w/ food) for about 2 months and my depression is worse than before I started. Exersize helps while I’m doing it, but doesn’t seem to help afterwards. Anyone else experience this?

    Sorry for the long post!

  8. Rachel says:

    Jonathan,

    This post has nothing to do with food, but I do have a book to (strongly!) recommend to you. It’s called The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney. Written *for* introverts, it’s the most enlightening work on introversion I’ve ever read — including a detailed survival plan for social occasions. I can’t recommend it highly enough!

  9. Mary says:

    Jonathon,
    I read in Prevention Mag. that a little chocolate is actually good for your heart – also antioxidents and quite frankly it does have a narcotic effect – releasing dopamine – thus Valentine’s day Chocolate. With that in mind, we all could fortify ourselves en route to such a party if we are nervous, beforehand with a good meal and a small amount of chocolate? Maybe it’s just planning to do that next time? I just now avoided such a thing by eating a bunch of cashews beforehand. As long as it is in moderation – can we not play with the hand were dealt instead of against it. I say Bravo on just four pieces!!!! But it was a good example of a mindset we can all get into… I’ve been working out and know I’ll burn it off. I don’t eat chocolate with nuts, peanut butter, because they take away from the chocolate and add compulsion. I go straight for the real thing and I do enjoy it, not very often. I have almost no sodas per month, but I do have my chocolate once in while and a little red wine and a zest of life.

  10. atmikha says:

    I can’t think of any improvements. Just lucky you weren’t trapped somewhere with all that hi-cal gunk screaming at you. Sometimes you just drop by to “show face,” say hi to everyone, then go take care of something else. It’s not like you ruined anyone else’s time.

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