I dislike large groups. “The more the merrier” doesn’t ring true.
It’s not that I don’t like the people in large group. Many can be close friends or relatives. But I don’t care for the social dynamics and structure that large groups dictate. Large groups are made up of smaller groups, and I nearly always find myself on the outside looking in at these smaller groups of people ripping Obama or health care reform or Facebook or whatever. Since I find it difficult to keep my mouth shut, it’s best I avoid them and head to an area with better 3G service.
I’m not referring to large conferences with hundreds or thousands of people. It’s easy to remain anonymous in that size group. Those don’t bother me.
I’m talking about the company Christmas party, family reunion or church banquet. I know it sounds odd because those occasions are meant to bring people together. But I can’t stand them.
I find these situations incredibly awkward. I’d avoid them altogether, but that’s impossible with young children. I don’t want to deprive them of the opportunity to meet family or make new friends just because I’d rather be organizing my sock drawer.
Kim and I seldom argue. But when we do it’s usually been over my desire to skip a family or church gathering. If I’m unable to make up an excuse fast enough, I’ll attend and pull out my iPhone or wander the building looking for a janitor listening to sports on his radio.
My mother-in-law and my father love getting large groups of people together. Nothing makes them happier than to gather the family together for an activity that ends with a group photo. I have to remind myself that these gatherings make them happy, and my kids enjoy attending them.
A couple years ago, my father took over 30 people in our family to Disneyland. It was our kids first time to the park, and they had a blast. But we spent very little time with other members of my family. It was if we’d gone on our own which was fine with me, but I feel my kids missed a rare opportunity to spend time with their cousins. Living in Seattle while everyone else lives in Utah creates an unintended barrier between us.
As awkward as I feel in large groups, I’m good one on one. I love nothing more than getting together with a friend and talking for two hours over dinner. I’m looking forward to doing just that tonight with a close friend I haven’t seen in a few months.
Last week, my brother-in-law from St. George and I got talking after the fireworks on the 4th and didn’t stop until 5 am. It was a lot of fun to get to know him better. We have more in common that I imagined. Had he not broken off from the group and found me downstairs with my laptop, I would have missed out.
So if you run into me at the next Christmas party, family reunion or church activity, say hello. Just don’t bring your entourage.