Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Meetup Hiatus? A Shift in Socialization...

Just a cropped image of an Old-School Lolita GLB Scan, irrelevantly relevant to this post... 
This is a little bit of a short reflective post. I need to write more of these and I got the itch to write about this topic so I thought it best to take a moment and get my thoughts down. This is in part what this blog is for after all.

Just to begin, I am an introvert. I am very weary about social situations and find that I get bouts of social anxiety every now and then. Some days I find it difficult to go out into the world and be around strangers, and even sometimes people I know. It comes and goes, and isn't really debilitating or inhibiting in an extreme sense, but it is there and I live with it.

Where I live in New York City, our Lolita Community is quite large. I feel it's accurate to estimate that there are at least 500+ active lolitas of varying degrees in New York State alone, and several hundred more in the Tri-state area that also attend meets here in the city. I know at least 80 lolitas to some degree in my community - casual acquaintances or more deeper friendships - and at least 50 of them actively attend meetups. There is trouble in this because it's virtually impossible to invite everyone to everything these days, and a place that could house us? Even more impossible. 

At many large meets I often find that I can barely get to know anyone. Somehow I always go without talking to someone like at all even though we were both present the entire time. Yea, some people I just don't click as well with others, true, but there are some people I want to get to know, but just can't sustain a long enough grasp of their attention to do so. It's no ones fault, it's just that there are too many people.

I think for a bit I want to shift from attending a bunch of large scale lolita meetups to going on on more lolita "dates" so to speak, in which I can hang out with like 2-3 gals at a time (or even one other person) and just chill in frills. Gives us more excuses to just wear out our clothes and get to know each other on a deeper level (if you are so inclined of course, not forcing that on anyone!) 

I realize that for many of my lolita friends that I haven't gotten to just calmly hang out without having to organize a bunch of people, plan massive reservations with deposits and fees, wrangle and stress about who is meeting us where and at what time, and all the other things that suck the fun out of frilling it up with friends. 

I have done "lolita dates" with some people, but not for a very long time. I know people are busy and we all have our lives, but if anyone ever wants to in the future when the weather is warm, I'm down. It can be a whole day or a few hours, doesn't matter. I just feel like I'm out of the large scale meetup scene for...quite some time. Even groups of just ten is too much for me at the moment and I realize that socially and mentally, I'm cracking a bit under the pressure. 

Of course the fear is always leaving people out of activities or gatherings. You want to try and invite everybody you can and somehow you forget someone, or there is a space issue, or someone doesn't like the other person - it's always something. But honestly at this point I just want to reach out to a couple of friends and hope that they would oblige me in one-on-ones or three/foursome groups.

I wanted to plan some meetups for springtime, large scale picnic ones, but I don't think I'm going to anymore. [Also picnic meets in public parks are somewhat nightmarish because they draw way too much attention from the people around us, which is even more troubling sometimes] If I do anything, I'll probably just ask a few people. I just feel like instead of trying to make time for 20 different people at one meet and not fully connecting with any of them, how about have a few smaller intimate gatherings here and there with groups of three or four, or just that one other person you have a strong connection with or want to strengthen?

It's time to catch some air. I have been actively attending meets for a good five months or so and even though it's not every week (even though once I went to meetups for three weeks consecutively), I'm just exhausted at the thought. Wearing Lolita has now become synonymous with being tired and having a headache from all the social overload. I find that I usually end up just latching onto one or two people at a meet and talking to them the entire time instead of others because I'm weary of the strain.

Thus why I've only ever hosted two meetups ever in the seven years I've been active in the lolita community, and the last one was much more stressful than I expected and really did a number on my morale. The first one I hosted was okay and turned out rather well in the end, the last one that I most recently hosted started off badly but eventually got better towards the end, but I think it really set me over the edge a little. Both meets had over ten attendees. 

However, I will never entirely give up on large scale meets because there are certain people I want to become better friends with but I'm not on the level where we would feel comfortable just hanging out one on one. I mean if someone asked me I would, but I'm a little shy in asking myself...you see the trouble.

This is why my favorite part of large scale meets is breaking off into smaller groups and hanging with a few new people. I tried this at the Halloween meetup we had last year and was able to get to know some new friends over some good food and desserts. It really helped to break the ice and after being at a large scale tea party in the afternoon with like 40 attendees, to trickling into a small group of five lolitas that I was recently acquainted and simply tagged along. 

Man, I don't know how I'm going to handle Rufflecon, but I will have to really mentally prepare myself for that one when the time comes. That's a whole other animal it of itself, and I'm not proud of my antisocial tendencies from last year and want to work through that. 

Is anyone feeling the same way? Let's talk about it.