Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Social Capital

I will NEVER take responsibility for the fact that I don't have more social capital, nor will I ever accept the consequences of my not being social. Every time that I'm lonely, I get pressured to go out and meet new people. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. This time around, when I heard about my grandma, I explicitly told everyone that I was not accepting any kind of pressure or criticism about how I was reacting, and of course my mom goes and pressures me to get out there and make more friends and meet new people (not even recently - this was back in September when things were really horrible and that was like telling someone with two broken legs to go running. But no one gets that. No one ever gets it).

Holiday season was horrible and everyone around me was like OMG I have a hundred gazillion people to shop for while my parents and I were literally stocking our food in the freezer because we had no one to feed it to. Yeah. Fuck that.

But here's the deal: A lot of people think that only children such as myself don't have social skills because we didn't grow up with other kids. But what they don't realize is that we only children have to have social skills in order to make friends, unlike kids who are born with siblings who are automatically their friends and aren't going anywhere no matter what they do. When my mom was a kid, all the kids used to go out and play in the streets together, and if you were not the oldest child in the family, you were basically born into a group of friends. You didn't have to go out and take initiative and introduce yourself to someone - you'd just tag along with your siblings and you were automatically part of the gang. I'm not saying that non-first-born kids don't have social skills - I'm saying that they don't need social skills as much as only and oldest children do - they can get by in the world without being social butterflies and without having social capital because they're just born into a group of friends that isn't gonna ditch them.

I work in a department right now with 5 coworkers. One of them is the oldest of 6 kids, one is the oldest of 4 kids, and one is one of 7 kids (not sure about the order). Another one has at least 3 siblings (possibly more, I'll have to ask), and another one I am not sure about her siblings (she's newer in our group), but she recently told me that she has a ton of cousins and they all lived on the same street as kids and played together every single day, basically grew up being siblings.

And most of my coworkers are my parents' age, so with all those siblings comes tons of in-laws and nieces and nephews, making for some huge family groups. My coworker who's the oldest of 6 said that all of her siblings live nearby and they are a very tight-knit group. For holidays, she often prepares for 30+ people, and that's not even everyone.

But here's the thing - introverts make up between 1/2 and 1/3 of the US population, depending which scale you're looking at. Statistically speaking, all of those 30+ people are not going to be extroverts. They're not all going to be social butterflies who are popular in school and join lots of clubs and want to organize events and travel the world and meet new people. And yet, they all are a part of this huge tight-knit group because they were just born into it. It's not something that has to be earned if you're in the right circumstances.

My coworker said that being the oldest, she's expected to host everything and people just invite themselves over to her house. So that's why it's better not to be the oldest. If I had older siblings, I could just tag along with their friends and I'd always have people to be with and always have a big group that was mine automatically without having to do anything to work my way in.

That's what I want. I've seen that you can have that huge group of friends and support without doing a thing to earn it, and I'm not putting up with this pressure to be social in order to earn it. Whenever I hear my coworkers talking about their close-knit huge families, I find myself wondering if they have any family members that I could date so that their family will automatically be mine too.

This year, I'm going to get a girlfriend, and I'm going to get one who has a lot of older siblings that she's really close with so that we can just invite ourselves over to their houses and tag along with what they're doing and have a close group that's there forever without needing to earn it with social capital.

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