Sunday, 13 January 2013

The Complicated Maze of Social Interaction Known as the "Party"

Sometimes, I can want and want and want and want to do something.  Yesterday, I went to a party.  It was at a bowling alley where they do a thing called "Cosmic Bowling," which involves loud music and bright colors and black lights.  Plus, as dictated by the term "party," there were many people there.  Many people.  Many people who I didn't know.  I knew I would have a difficult time with the party, but I was told about it weeks in advance and -- after my new philosophy to try to make new friends and be more social -- decided I would give it a try.
I do not like noises.  I do not mind one song playing on my iPod or one television show with regular volume and subtitles.  I do not mind the hum of someone else's conversation, so long as there isn't any other noise to obstruct the voices so that all the sounds seem to bombard my ears.
I do not mind lights, but I do not like when rooms are dark save for just a few lights, or in the case of black lights, when the lights distort the colors from the way I expect them to be.  I do not like the way the lights flicker and flash and how videos are projected on large screens above the alleys.  I do not like the abrupt jump-cuts of the videos or the angry screaming of music that accompanies them.  And of course, in neurotypical culture, as soon as the lights are dim and the music is loud, everyone starts gyrating and sing-/shouting along.
And the people.  I used to thoroughly detest any social occasion, but I'm not like that anymore.  With age and enlightenment, I have come to place extreme value on my friendships and other relationships.  But in a room filled with fifty people, I am never comfortable.  And in a room filled with forty-eight people I've never met, I'm even more uncomfortable.
I guess what I'm saying is: I enjoyed the party.  I hated the small-talk, I hated the music, and I hated the lights.  I hated the general disarray.  But in all, after nearly two full hours spent at the party, I was able to leave with my head held high, proud of myself for accomplishing something new.
A party isn't necessarily a big deal to most neurotypicals, and probably many autistics don't mind parties as well, but for me and my unique brain, parties are confusing places with many triggers.