Tonight has been a highly predictable tonight. Things went exactly how I knew they would, which is to say there were zero surprises or turns.
A quick recap of events: This afternoon I had to activate video playback on the Alumni House Concerto screen so they could watch the Legends of ’85. The computer powering the screen isn’t super powerful so it stuttered a bit when playing it back, the frame rate might have been in the single digits. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much I could do that wouldn’t threaten the stability of the system so I had to leave these moderately bad looking video (by my standards) playing. After setting that up, I returned to the Union and everyone left to attend the “Big Red Freakout” hockey game (spoiler alert: RPI lost miserably). I did not leave. Later, I battled the vehicular hockey traffic up near the Field House to grab some dinner and supplies from my room, then I returned to the Union.
I spent most of my time struggling on a form to support a has_many join in rails for Concerto 2. Feeling down, I went to Father’s to buy an ice cream cookie, one of the few “treats” I’ll personally indulge in. After purchasing the cookie/ice-cream combination, I discovered it expired by opening it up and finding the cookie mostly absorbed into the ice cream. I confirmed an expiration date of Nov 21, 2009 by examining the back of the wrapper. The hockey game ended at some point and a modest crowd (i.e 2-3 people) trickled back to the Union. Most people were attending post-game events and therefore did not return to their place of origin. A little before 11:00pm I returned to my dorm. That is where I write to you from.
It is no secret, I’m not a big fan of hockey. I’m not opposed to the concept of hockey/athletics in general, but I feel no personal draw to attend games. That said, you’d be mistaken to say that I won’t go to a hockey game. I won’t go to a hockey game alone or for the hockey, but their are plenty of other reasons that would get me to attend. For example, I have attended sporting events and musical concerts because there was a social reason for going. Someone else may have invited me as their personal guest (opposed to inviting a dozen people to go as a group), or someone may want the opportunity to just chat or spend time with me (like my dad taking me or my brother to a basketball game). The venue doesn’t matter much to me, but the interaction that happens when I’m their does.
In my current social situation, there is a low probability I would have interacted well with any group I could attend such events with at RPI. I am securely positioned as an outlier, where most others view me as mildly useful for a very specific (and unfortunately shrinking) set of tasks… nothing more. Commonly I am invited out of professional courtesy, whereas I am not annoying enough to warrant being blacklisted from event, and it never hurts to invite someone with a terribly low attendance record who you see on a regular basis.
I am unsure how to accurately capture my feelings, because I typically use “left out” to describe scenarios where I am being intentionally excluded from something, which I am not. I don’t identify loneliness with my current state because I know I could always initiate communication with a friend should I think it would help. How exactly to capture the feeling of an outlier? Maybe if I knew more big words I would have a better set to choose from here. Spare may be a word to describe some emotions, where it is perceived that anything I could offer a gathering can already be provided by others. In previous years I might have said secluded because I wasn’t as publicly visible as I’ve been this year, but I’ve found that an increased physical presence makes minimal difference.
Maybe it makes sense to explore the logic behind invitations and gathers. Let go down the list quickly: As an organizer, it it always logical to invite yourself. Your significant other will also want to attend, or else they will feel left out, so you should invite him/her as well. Next, I guess it makes sense to invite some close friends who you know will come. Independently, they each should be able to interact well with each other so they aren’t relying on you to serve as the only common ground they have. Next, you might want to invite someone who can act as the “life of the party” for whatever event you’re hosting, should things go downhill this person could be someone well qualified to supply “event materials,” be it physical goods, services, discussion material, etc. I think you finally invite everyone else, recognizing that an event’s enjoyment may be measured in sheer attendance and the more you invite the higher attendance might be. Since these people are, in some regards, extras (i.e you might not invite all of them if you had limited space/resources), you don’t spend time evaluating their social needs or fit with the group… just shotgun it.
Maybe I am just really bad at picking up on sincerity or something; but I would almost always cast myself in the group of extras invited to events… be it a meeting, sporting event, party, food trip, you name it. I guess most people must be OK with this, they go and do their own thing, interacting in whatever social circles they find themselves in. Me? I’m a little more structured than that. Going with the sole intent of “showing up” to “see how things go” doesn’t work for me. I don’t do anything to “see how it goes” except for things that I can undo with no damage (like computer programming). Before I’m willing to take a risk and “see how it goes” I need to evaluate all the possible outcomes and, to proceed, identify some slight probability of success.
That was all very abstract, let me “break it down” for you. To date, I have asked a total of one person to enter a relationship with me, you can probably guess who. To do this, I spent approximately a very very long time determining there was some probability of short-term success and an acceptable low probability for little long-term damage. This is because I opt to not be like a significant group of males and enter a relationship with just about anyone for the sake of seeing how it goes and gaining some experience. (Though I will say, the knowledge gained from past relationships does leave something to be desired at times.) Life is not my training dground, I don’t have the time to spend practicing these sorts of things.
Consider yourself lucky.