So tomorrow night is the annual office Christmas party. I will not be attending. It’s not like I have some high level job where my presence is expected or necessary anyway. I doubt anyone will even notice my absence or care.
As an Aspie, I have never been able to tolerate the forced upbeat perkiness and all the small talk and chit chat about nothing in particular that abounds at these events. Too much social input coming in from all directions overwhelms my oddly wired brain, causing it to short circuit. I wind up in a state of near panic and to compensate, I become mute to avoid reading a social cue wrong and say something out of context that causes people to look at each other knowingly and roll their eyes at my social ineptness.
I feel like the old Saturday Night Live character Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, whose mantra was “your world frightens and confuses me.” The world of neurotypicals, a world of people who love to socialize in groups, attend parties and engage in small talk, has that effect on me.
Whenever I’ve attended one of these things, I leave as exhausted as if I just spent the day digging holes in dry packed mud. Because I’m nearly silent at these events, people don’t even attempt to talk to me. More often that not, I wind up sitting there at the table alone, picking at my plate of stuffed mushrooms and baby carrots, feeling as self conscious and awkward as the school geek in a roomful of popular kids, because I can find no one to talk to and apparently no one really wants to talk to me either.
Small talk is utterly boring to me. Aspies tend to like “deep” talk, but I learned that serious, in depth conversations about things that matter is verboten at parties, especially office parties, where you are forced to spend an evening acting like people you probably wouldn’t give the time of day to if you didn’t have to work with them are your best friends. It’s all so fake and stupid to me.
I don’t get jokes a lot of the time, especially if they’re inside jokes that, because I don’t have close friends at work and am not part of a clique, I haven’t been filled in on the background that makes these jokes funny to others. It’s hard to laugh at a joke you don’t get. But you must laugh anyway so people don’t think you’re cold and unfriendly or worse, didn’t get the joke, which implies stupidity. But telling jokes is de rigeur for office Christmas parties.
The other thing that drives me crazy is everyone talking about their upcoming holiday plans. Most neurotypicals have lots of friends and love to talk about the gifts they are buying and the parties and other events they will be attending with those friends. Most people also have loving families and nearby relatives and all the talk about what toys they are buying little Isabella and Caleb at Sam’s Club makes me want to stick hot pins in my eyes. Being a person with hardly any money to buy gifts for anyone in a world that seems full of people who are living in two income households and have disposable income to throw around drives me mad too.
The only way I could cope with this type of an event would be if I had a few drinks ahead of time, but that wouldn’t be worth it either and besides, I’d still have to drive. I don’t really need a DWI on top of all the other shit I’m dealing with.
I’m no Scrooge, but you can keep your office Christmas party. I have better things to do, like socialize with my cats who don’t give a damn how awkward I am, or write more blogs posts.