I've recently decided that I really want to join a book club. The problem is, how do I go about that? There are several local book clubs I could pick from--the ones at the library, several at bookstores, including a woman's book club at the local feminist bookstore and another one at the local indie bookstore, and various annoucements for book clubs soliciting members on Craigslist. No shortage of places to try out.
So what's the problem?
The idea of making an effort go interact with a group of strangers, even if it does revolve around a common interest like books, terrifies me. What if they don't like me? What if I don't like them? What if they only have stupid ideas about the books? What if I do? What if they only like stupid books? And assuming I can get my gumption up enough to try one of the clubs, which one should I try?
This is all an excellent example of why I don't have very many friends. I don't seek people out, even for specific purposes like talking about books. Instead I obsess about what might happen if I did, letting it all flow through my tiny brain and make me crazy. I know, intellectually, that it would not hurt me to try out a book club meetings, and that if I hated it, I wouldn't be obliged to go back. And yet emotionally it's paralyzing. And it should be such a small thing.
I don't think I started out this insecure. I vaguely remember being put in new situations as a kid (summer camp and that kind of thing) and being able to make new acquaintances fairly easily. I was never the most popular girl in the room, but I did OK all the way through college. So what is it about adulthood that makes the stakes seem so much higher? I have much more control over who I spend time with now than I did when there was forced social interaction (school events, etc.). If anything, I should be more willing to try new things out, knowing I can abandon them if they don't suit me. Yet instead I go home and sit on my couch with my introvert partner and our dogs (a species I have a very easy time making friends with) and feel bad about myself.
And as the introvert partner won't read fiction and the dogs can't read, I have nobody to talk about books with.