Social interactions drain my energy as an introvert. I was exhausted and surrounded by friends the last time I attended a farewell party. Before the event began, the organizer requested that everyone bring food to share. I purchased a French baguette roll and alcoholic beverages such as vodka and tonic, Kenmore whiskey, and ginger ale. I bought this western style of food because I wanted to be different from others. But, at the end of the day, the bread roll and alcoholic beverages were left untouched. I was not sure if I should be ashamed of my purchases and take them personally. I should know the culture; we live in a Chinese culture country like Hong Kong. People prefer Chinese food to the western style of dining.

Friends engaged in small talk about their favourite foods, the wild side of work, and other random issues during the occasion. I was mostly silent, not because I wasn’t friendly; I was, and I was listening intently, but I didn’t know what to say. I wasn’t a gamer if people were talking about it. I don’t watch football, basketball, or follow sports news when people talk about sports. If people talked about music, I couldn’t relate because western music isn’t the same as the Asian music I used to listen to when I was young. It’s exhausting to sit for an hour and pretend to be a good listener. The fun part was that I could also act. I would occasionally nod my head in agreement with the speaker.

To make up for my lack of social communication, I may modify my lifestyle, go out more frequently, and mingle with different people. I may start talking more and listening less. If I went out more often, I could tell you about my wakeboarding experience. If I have many friends, I could say to them about the amusing stories I’ve overheard. I could think of relevant knowledge to value the conversation if I read more books and news. Otherwise, if I live a monotonous existence, staring at a computer screen all day and night, eating the same food every meal, and remaining in the same spot without venturing outside of my comfort zone, nothing worth mentioning. If I am open to new experiences, trying new things, and viewing the world from other viewpoints, I will have a richer life. Instead of the weather, I would have many fascinating stories if I had many other hobbies, such as rock climbing, kayaking, coffee brewing, or wine tasting. If we can’t find shared interests, it’s difficult to connect with others. I adore reading books and writing software, but these are unpopular topics to discuss over a casual dinner when there isn’t time to discuss more serious issues.

To alleviate this feeling of being drained by social encounters, I need to enhance my conversational skills so that these awkward situations do not recur. I was startled to learn that some people can achieve celebrity without divulging a lot of personal information. They labelled and commented on other people’s comments, posed questions to the speaker, and offered genuine compliments. I’ve been reading a lot of books about self-improvement and relationship repair. I’m familiar with these theories and techniques, but I’ve never put them into practice. Reading the books sounds encouraging, but in a real-life setting, it would be not very pleasant. Therefore I avoided practising them. In both my personal and professional lives, I need to learn the art of improving my relationships with others, building connections and rapport. If I don’t have to deal with people as much, get more energy from social contacts, and contribute to my achievement, I’ll be a happier person.