I am the worst schmoozer in the world.
I was recently invited to join the board of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho (PPGWNI - now there's an acronym for ya) and I said "yes!" with excitement and confidence. I can oversee things, offer my opinion, meet with major donors and be a part of guiding an organization whose mission I truly believe in so yes; sign me up, schedule me for the meetings, gimmie a emblazoned travel mug.
After last night I feel like I have failed them in some way, like I have failed my grown up self, like I need to change my long refined answer to the interview question "what is your greatest weakness" from some bullshit about caring too much, taking work home with me and trying too hard to a one word answer: schmoozing.
I spend Oscar night as PPGWNI's guest at the Spokane AIDS Network benefit. The room was full and buzzing with Spokane big wigs, men dressed as Lady Gaga, and even an adorable puppy who was to be auctioned off. I was lucky enough to have Kristina as my date for the evening and watched as she talked to people she didn't know, made them laugh and looked lovely and graceful doing it. I talked with the people I knew on the board, said hi to the few others I happened to know who were milling about, and then breathed a huge sigh or relief as dinner began and my social obligations were not limited to the table at which I was seated with friends on either side of me.
Just as I was finishing my salad a couple who I know well, who I admire and who are nothing if not the picture of grace and poise when it comes to social situations, came over to our table to introduce a man who is running for Congress. They introduced him around the and as he approached me, and I'm not sure how I did this but I am sure that it was as ungraceful as it sounds, I managed to make my body as uninviting as possible. I froze. I DID NOT want to have to talk to this potential leader of our free world. I was tired. My introverted self had spent all available social energy and wanted nothing more than to finish my dinner cracking jokes with Kristina about Angelina Jolie's protruding elbows and then go home and go to bed. Mr. Congress, ever the graceful schmoozer, nodded "hi" to me (and I could see in his eyes that he was thinking "thank god she doesn't want to talk to me because she looks like an insane person anyway, all contorted and snarly") (swear, that was exactly what his eyes said) and moved on to my lovely and socially appropriate friend.
I know it is a small incident, one that Mr. Congress (who, by the way, I will totally vote for since he is running against this woman with whom my husband got into a verbal altercation which involved the words "pathetically ignorant" spit from his lips repeatedly) will never remember, but I feel like a failure. I feel like I let my socially savvy friends down, like I let PPGWNI down, like I am unfit to represent the cause in which I believe because I just do not function well in huge groups of people I do not know.
So blah. and Bleech. and apologies. Does anyone who is good at this have any tips? Do you think of things to talk about before you go? Do you drink a lot of coffee? Or alcohol? Or both? Do you just skip it all together? Suggestions, tips, and horror stories welcome!