Last night, as planned, I headed over to The Golden Port to meet other COAP members for a late dinner. I arrived a bit late, but found the large group. I ended up sitting down on one end. Marlena sat across from me. I didn’t catch the name of the gentleman who sat to my right. When he came, a man by the name of Sam sat to my left.
I haven’t entirely made up my mind about how I feel about the experience, to be honest with you. This is because it was a chaotic dinner and there were both high points and low points. I’ve pretty much decided that I need to attend the same dinner next month and possibly the one after that before I make up my mind about whether I’m going to continue going to them.
In fairness to the group, I was tired by the time I got there. I had worked until 7pm that evening, and my shift had been mentally exhausting. Combine that with the general physical inactivity of a desk job, and you have a state of being that didn’t quite put me at my peak for socializing, anyway. Add to that the fact that my natural shyness and tendency towards introversion was trying to assert itself at the same time, and I have to admit that I was not in my element to begin with.
Now, add to this the fact that most of the other dinner-goers had just come from the business forum. Both Zara and Jennie talked to me about the business forum, but I really don’t understand much about it other than (1) it serves as a monthly fundraiser for Pride and (2) it involves the consumption of alcohol. So I was tired, feeling introverted, and surrounded by a group of people who were all intoxicated to some degree or another. This is not a good combination when you’re empathically gifted. So I spent a couple moments at various points in the dinner just trying to get my already work-addled mind to put my shielding exercises to effective use.
Then there was the minor issue of the fact that I was a newcomer entering into a group situation where everyone else knew each other and were great friends for the most part. I think it’s difficult for all but the most socially agressive people to find a way to break in on that sort of situation. So I was finding it difficult to get involved in the conversations that I was able to hear and follow through all the chaos.
Sam and I did talk a bit, however. We didn’t say anything earth shattering, mind you. But I will admit that he was a bit more outgoing than the others seated immediately around me, which helped me break the ice a bit better. He was quite funny, and I was able to warm up a bit more after his arrival, for which I’m grateful.
Also, towards the end of the meal, Zara got up from her seat and wandered around so that she could say hello to those who were too far from her while she was eating. She came down and spoke to Sam and I for a while, which was a nice experience. Even that brief conversation improved my own experience a great deal. She told me about the business forum, and encouraged me to attend that as well next month. I haven’t made a final decision, though I am certainly considering it. I asked her if they also serve non-alcoholic beverages (the only thing more trying than being an empath around intoxicated people is being an intoxicated empath around intoxicated people — and possibly even sober people), which I don’t think she ever actually answered, come to think of it. Of course, she made sure that Sam and I had been introduced and gotten along. Sam made up this rather amusing melodramatic story about how it had been rough at first and we even had a spat, but we were able to patch things up. It was hillarious, and Estella would’ve loved it.
So overall, I suppose I did have a good time. At least I had a good enough time that I’m willing to give it another try come May. However, given this experience, I think I’ll try to plan ahead a bit. For example, I will do my best to make sure that I don’t work longer hours earlier in the day. If at all possible, I’ll even try to put in an extra hour or so earlier in the week so I can knock off a bit early. That way, I can get in some meditation and other work to better prepare myself for the chaos. That should help put me in a state where I’m more able to focus on trying to be sociable. And hopefully, as I attend a few more times, I’ll start getting to know people better and find it easier to find a place in the various conversations going on.