Book clubs, girl’s trips, bachelorette parties, mommy meetups — the invitations send panic through my veins. I avoid them at all costs when I am able, and when I can’t, I struggle to participate. I don’t know if it’s my anxiety, my introverted nature, or my general dislike for social group dynamics, but these gatherings set my nervous system on fire. The lead-up causes stress, the event feels uncomfortable, and the aftermath is exhausting.
So say I’m not a “girl’s girl” and call me antisocial. But if you are considering me for your next ladies’ night, please don’t save me a seat.
Before you judge me and call me an asshole, please hear me out. I love being a woman and I think female empowerment is incredibly important. I love my one-on-one conversations, walks, and dinners with my mother and my closest female friends. It’s the group crap that I hate. For some reason, large gatherings turn me into an overzealous, clown version of myself in order to fit in. One that I can’t see in the moment, but can reflect on later leaving me feeling weird, and gross.
I’ve always been this way, preferring quality over quantity — connecting very closely with a carefully selected few, rather than galavanting in a group. Even my best friends are barely friends with one another. There is no crew, no #girlgang. Just me and my separate favorites. And it is something that works really well for me.
But I do often wish I was different. I see groups of women on my Instagram feed doing so many cute, cool, seemingly entertaining things. Sometimes I look and think, wait, that’s fun. I should try that! But then I do. And it isn’t — not for me. Because no matter how hard I try to make these scenes feel comfortable to me, they just don’t, even in the perfect set of circumstances, with women I enjoy immensely individually.
I think it has something to do with group behavior generally. Personalities seem so amplified and everyone, including me, ends up jockeying for some weird position or role. And while my logical brain tells me to act natural, observe, and quietly contribute when necessary, my socially unstable clown brain that takes over in groups tells me to perform sarcastic jokes at a loud volume for long periods of time. It’s exhausting.
Even in unsolicited, organically formed scenes — like a group of moms who just happen to be at the park at the same time. I find that all too often, conversations become oddly competitive, with each mom trying to impress the group with a weird antidote or one-up statement. I am unsure why this is not anxiety producing for others — I wonder if I am just hyper-aware of my surroundings or perhaps other women are able to tune out some of this noise. I sure wish I could.
So here I am, momming in a world full of gatherings with no desire to attend. But that’s okay. I think I will continue to foster my one-on-one relationships and leave the group stuff to the pros. I will encourage myself to stop feeling like some broken outlier because I don’t love all the same activities as the women on my newsfeed. Instead, I will feel proud that I know myself well enough at this stage in life to only engage in activities that make me feel warm, and comfortable. And who knows, maybe someday I will change my mind. But probably not.
Samm Burnham Davidson is an ex-lawyer mom of four who swears a lot. She lives in Beverly, Massachusetts.