Celebration: Jessica Stanley

Thursday, 26 July 2012

: : Jane spoke about how us introverts celebrate after the party, while Jessica here describes how she doesn’t like parties. I dislike them too. I swear, I didn’t ask them to so perfectly align their guest posts with my own introverted personality! But I promise to try, Jessica. Thanks for such a thoughtful celebration post. Visit Jessica’s blog here : :

When Hila spoke about holding a celebration for her book, my mind immediately leapt to parties. While I feel nothing but excitement for Hila’s immense achievement, I feel precisely the opposite about big social gatherings. Having to raise my voice to ask or answer questions - having to shift my attention to some new person just as a conversation gets interesting - having to meet loads of new people when the ones I already know are just fine? I don’t like any of those things.

Some of my favourite parts of Just Kids were the bits when Patti Smith was getting ready to go out. You always think of her as a huge star, whether on stage or sinking her cheap coffees with Andy Warhol’s crew in Max’s. But her memoir revealed that’s not what she’s like at all.


“I approached dressing like an extra preparing for a shot in a French New Wave film. I had a few looks, such as a striped boatneck shirt and red throat scarf like Yves Montand in Wages of Fear, a Left Bank beat look with green tights and red ballet slippers, or my take on Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, with her long black sweater, white socks, and black Capezios. Whatever the scenario, I usually needed about ten minutes to get ready.”


“I felt increasingly out of place in Robert’s social whirl. He escorted me to teas, dinners, and an occasional party. We sat at tables where a single setting had more forks and spoons than needed for a family of five. I could never understand why I had to engage in discussions with people I didn’t know. I just sat in a state of internal misery waiting for the next course. No one seemed as impatient as I.”


“I didn’t dress properly, I was awkward in their company if not bored, and I spent more time milling around in the kitchen than gossiping at the table.”

Knowing someone you admire feels the same way as you do really takes the sting out.

Then last week I listened to a wonderful speech given by the screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, who wrote Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and won an Oscar for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He quoted e.e. cummings: ‘To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.’

Of course, “be yourself,” that’s what everyone says. What if myself is someone who doesn’t like parties at all?

Then he added something that’s stuck with me. Something that might be achievable.

“The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind.”

Let’s try it.

All images are scans from Patti Smith 1969 - 1977: Photographs by Judy Linn. All Patti Smith’s words are from her memoir, Just Kids.


Jane Flanagan said...

Love this! It really does take the sting out of it, doesn't it? It's so easy to assume that everybody at the party is at ease and you're the only one who doesn't fit...

rooth said...

I'm always the awkward one, reflecting afterward why I said that thing about so-and-so and why I acted like that. But that last quote is perfect. And "be kind"... that's certainly a philosophy that everyone can stand behind

suzie said...

This post has resonated more than I can say! I dislike gatherings of more than about 6 people, and I also find myself dreading the inevitable vernissages and private views I'm invited to/expected to attend.
Added bonus! I loved Just Kids, Patti Smith is a true, true heroine of mine and I enjoyed that book immensely.

Rambling Tart said...

"The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind.” - I love that. :-) I remember when I first started as a newspaper reporter covering the entertainment beat. I had to go to heaps of parties and events, usually alone, and I quickly learned to smile at all, but squirrel away in a corner with just a few and have GREAT conversations. They became pleasurable then. :-)

Danielle P. said...

What a great post! Social situations are a nightmare to me, so this is excellent advice. We too often forget that other people are human, too! I've added Patti Smith's book to my to-read list.

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Wonderful perspective! Holding on to my individuality has been a test of endurance. I haven't always kept up, my success has come in waves. The good news is the older I get, the more natural it feels. Her memoir was so good. Patti Smith is an inspiration.

Miss Bibliophile said...

That final quote by e.e. cummings strikes a chord with me. What a great thought to keep in mind.

Joy said...

from one of my favourite books! loves it.

Teresa said...

As a fellow introvert who doesn't look forwrd to parties, I love this! Parties can be fun but it's always the needless conversation that pains me.

This is so true:

"The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind.”

Hila said...

Jane: I often think that at parties too, and feel so alone. So yes, it definitely does take the sting out to hear that a huge star, someone we assume would be at ease around people, feels the same way.

rooth: yes, you should see me at big parties - awkward with a capital 'A'. So I like the idea of being kind.

Suzie: me too, join the club. I've always thought there was something 'wrong' with me because of that. Oh well, we are what we are :)

Rambling Tart: that would probably be me if I had to do that job.

Danielle: exactly, and I think we also forget that others may have no idea that you may be feeling uncomfortable. I once told a friend I was so nervous at one of her parties, and she said, 'really, it didn't show'. It's nice to know that others feel the same as me.

Denise: I'm getting more comfortable with myself too.

Miss Bibliophile: I love that quote, I've read it before and thought it had such truth to it.

Joy: seems everyone loves this book! I should read it then.

Teresa: it pains me too - and it's such a relief to hear others say this!

Chuck said...

I feel the need to fight against that impulse but it is good to know that people I respect, like Patti, feel it too. Interesting to see how many blog writers identify as introverts too. X

Hila said...

Chuck: I tried fighting it too. But I'm turning 29 this year, and feeling less and less bothered by my introverted nature. I am what I am, this is my personality, and I don't think any of us should feel bad about who we are.

tksutton said...

Patti Smith is an icon on so many levels.
Reading Just Kids only once, was not enough. Her words light up the stage and bring to life a beautiful narrative. God I love her.



Hila said...

tksutton: I think I love her even more after finding out she didn't like parties.