"Yeah, so what," you may be thinking.
It's not very often that my husband goes out without me. Yes, that's right, we rarely go to any social event separately.
I know, I know, it sounds clingy and needy. But this is the way things are done in France, especially out here in province.
If you are in a couple, you attend social events as couple with other couples. If you are not in a couple, you spend a lot of time with couples. You tag along.
At least, this is the way it works when you are around my age, 30. It's unusal to go out without your other half. I wrote another post about this here: http://dennation.blogspot.fr/2013/04/france-vs-canadadenmark-cultural.html
I can picture it now, my husband arriving alone at the meal, a meal where there are only couples, and greeting everyone with la bise and having to awkwardly explain to everyone that I stayed home because I have too much work. Only it's not because I have too much work (well, I do have a lot on my to-do list).
I'm at home because I can't stand another evening of being socially awkward and being ignored.
Maybe it's my introverted side, but I just don't want to force myself anymore. I can't tell you how many times I've forced myself to go out with my husband to these "couples' evenings" when I just wanted to stay home. I know that the best way to meet people is to force sometimes, but if I am not having fun, then it's just not worth it.
I was out walking today and reflecting on how I feel lonely in France sometimes. But then I thought, "Yeah, but so what? You're so happy alone in your den, avoiding people that don't really care to be with you." (If you want to know more about my "den", read this post: http://dennation.blogspot.fr/2013/06/sunday-ramblings.html). And you know what? I am so much happier here. I feel a bit guilty about him having to deal with the social stigma of being out without me, but I am just so happy to be back in my den.
|My Den. Home sweet home. Author of photo: Den Nation.|
Saturday I want to a bachelorette party. I hesitated to go - I didn't want past experiences to come back to haunt me. I went because there would be no in-the-street dancing and dressing up. I also wanted to get to know the bride a little better. I don't have any problems with people who do dress up and dance in the streets, but it's not my idea of fun. No, the programme was excellent, right up my alley. Spa, medieval festival, good food, wine bar - all things that I love to do. So what was the problem?
These women knew each other quite well. So maybe it wasn't really a cultural problem, but my introverted side rearing its ugly head. They sang along together to girly songs in the car, talked about other people they knew and made jokes that I would never understand (some cultural, but some related to their past). They are nice women, though, but I wondered why they invited me. It's my husband that is friends with the groom. My husband says it's because they found me interesting and wanted to get to know me better. Now I wonder what they think...
It is very risky for me to go out with a group of people I don't know very well. At the end of the night, I went home exhausted and was in a bad mood. Every fibre of my being was screaming out for some alone time. And believe me when I say this, that bachelorette party was not the worst of it. That was actually a success compared to some of the other epic failures I've had. No, don't feel badly for me - I have enough experience now to "feel" the potential for a failed evening. And tonight I had the strength to say no!
So I've come to the conclusion that, while I know I should force myself to go out more, I'm just going to accept that I'm an introvert and a foreigner and I need to stay home in my den when I don't like the social setting. It's better if I get to know people one-on-one first and not in a group setting.
I sound like I'm ranting and maybe I am, but at the end of the day, I am not an accidental expat/immigrant. I chose to leave my comfort zone in Canada and I choose to stay here (my husband and I can find jobs in Canada, unlike other French/North American couples I know), so it's up to me to do something about my problems/challenges or like tonight, just accept that this is who I am and realise that I actually prefer being like this rather than fighting it.
You know what? I think I'll go and make myself some tea, just like a good old granny. I'll drink that in my den while listening to some cheesy 80s music and eat some goodies from the Alps. I think tonight is the night to bring out crystalgoestoeurope's Bonnat chocolate (thanks again, Crystal, I was saving the chocolate for a special occasion) and Biscuits de Chalais (cookies made by nuns living in the Alps). Crystal also inspired me today to drink some rose tea.