Some people are capable of moving to a new place and immediately–before even exiting the plane–they have been invited to parties, had several marriage proposals, and have been made official members of foreign families.
I am not one of those people. I am rather in awe of those people, but I also think it sounds really exhausting. I mean, talking to all those new people? Exhausting. Reading a book quietly to yourself? Not exhausting.
Basically, I’m an introvert. I’m not shy, I’m not socially awkward (usually—shut up!), but I’m without a doubt an introvert. Given a choice, I will normally keep to a small group of friends who I’ve known for a long time.
This makes living abroad…difficult at times, as you don’t normally know a lot of people when you move to a new place. I knew a total of four people when I moved to Bangkok, which is better than when I first moved to France, Japan, or Maryland, anyway, when I knew zero people. In those other places, I ended up making a lot of BFFs (are the kids still saying that?). (And, YES, you can have more than one BFF, okay? Stop being so judgmental!) I just took it on faith that the same would happen eventually in BKK.
Blind faith and denial, people. It’s what’s gotten me this far, and I’m not giving up on it. It’s been good to me.
Still, I’m older now and becoming more introverted, lazy, and set in my ways. This was a typical conversation in my head when I first moved to Bangkok:
Me: Should I go out and make new friends and explore this amazing city with them or stay in and surf the internet?
Me: Um…is that really a debate?
Me: You’re right. Internet forever!
In my defense, I also read and watched TV sometimes. I’m not a total freak, sheesh.
This was the conversation in my head a week or two after moving here:
Me: Should I go out and make new friends or stay in and surf the internet?
Me: Do you want to be sad and lonely and have nobody show up at your funeral when you die? And also have a bunch of cats and be that weird lady on the block who everybody thinks is a witch?
Me: Good point…wait. If I’m that weird lady who everybody thinks is a witch, will all the annoying people leave me alone? No, no…that’s not cool. I don’t even like cats that much. I mean, they’re okay, but I don’t think I’d want a bunch of them. So, I’ll just surf the internet for friends! Compromise, self, that’s what life’s all about!
I’ve made virtually (ha!) all of my new friends since moving to Thailand from the interwebs. These are people I’ve actually met in real life, thank you very much. Some of them. It’s not my fault if my internet friends live in other countries! Or live in the same country, but we’ve never met! These things happen, people! It’s the 21st century! It’s the future! Now where’s my jet pack? Or those flying skateboards from Back to the Future?
But I digress. (One more thing: A jet pack would be really handy to get around Bangkok traffic. Just saying.)
My new friends in Thailand are awesome, for the record (as are my old friends in Thailand). In case you’re wondering, it’s not hard making friends when you move to a new place, but it’s like dating—it requires you to pretend to be somebody you’re not for a little bit until the person likes you. (“Oh, yeah, I mean, I love everything about Thailand! Thai food is the best! I could eat it for every meal for the rest of my life! Hooray! I’m always smiling!”) Then you can go back to being super pessimistic. (“Yeah, Thai food is great, but if I don’t get a decent pizza soon, I’m going to effing kill somebody. Like, real soon. This is not a drill, people, and I am NOT smiling.”)
For some people, making friends is not a major effort. For an introvert like myself, though, it’s an effort. It’s an effort that’s worth it, to be sure, but it’s an effort nonetheless.
Overcoming Introversion: 0 Megan: 1
I could do a little better and make more of an effort…but I’m kind of lazy. And seriously, I have a lot of books to read since I got a library card!
Oh yeah, and Pizza Mania actually has really decent pizza in Bangkok. Just FYI.