The relativity of fun

When you move to a new place, you inevitably are meeting new people and during each interaction you try to size each other up for friendship. Not even in a judgmental way, but you’re just trying to figure out what’s in the middle of your Venn diagram so that you have something to talk about or you know what event to invite them to.

I feel like I’m always fighting against this narrative of what it makes to have and be fun. It’s kind of like the extrovert-introvert conversation: “Yes, introverts are sincerely content spending time with themselves.” I’m trying to work this out right now and I don’t know where on the introvert-extrovert spectrum I am. Rather, I think I might just have this curmudgeon center that I surround with a social outer layer. I remember coming to this realization when I first graduated and would keep forcing myself to go to these parties that I didn’t enjoy. Now, I have just accepted that I don’t find the same things fun as other people, but I think my life would be so much easier it weren’t the case. Because even if I happily don’t participate in said fun activity, everyone wants me to. It’s a safe middle ground on which to build a friendship.

Why I’m the least fun person you know:

1. I don’t know music that well. Actually, I don’t know anything popular that well. As I just told Grant: It is like I was bored outside of time and somehow managed to be unaware of all these shared cultural experiences and instead all of my knowledge is around how to recycle well (if you’re not sure it’s recyclable, just throw it out rather than risking the whole batch!). When people prod me about my musical tastes as one of the first things people try, my responses are always underwhelming. I usually don’t recognize the names of the bands even if I have heard their songs because I listen to spotify radio. Mostly indie folk or rock whose names I’m not great at remembering and the people I could mention are old news like Simon & Garfunkle, Tom Waits, Cat Stevens, and The Beatles.

2. I don’t like most board games. I can’t really explain this. I didn’t grow up with board games. We played scrabble or cards on special occasions, but I’m not used to just gathering around and playing board games. I think they’re stressful. I feel like I don’t strategize against other people for fun and get anxious out when I’m not winning. I do like word games, and drawing/acting games alright, but I don’t think I would ever suggest it.

3. I’m completely ambivalent about drinking. I don’t hate it, I don’t mind being around it, I don’t mind occasionally drinking, but I think I’d be fine with never having alcohol again in my life. I don’t like the taste of alcohol and don’t feel enticed to get used to it. When I do drink, it’s because it’s been masked by other, more delicious, stuff. And often I suspect that other stuff would taste even better if it didn’t have alcohol in it. People also love talking about drinking and I can’t relate to it. Having most often worked in start-ups, I was always deflecting invitations to drink. Because you know start-ups are going to have beers (on Fridays at the very least) and everyone is going to be excited about them. And maybe it’s that people make the drinking the event instead of the compliment to event.

— scene change! —

I wrote most of this over a year ago and just came across it again, edited it and thought: this is kind of negative, isn’t it? Because the thing is: just because the I don’t like those few ubiquitous fun things, doesn’t mean I terrible to be around.

Purely as a thought exercise in not being such a grinch, here is why I’m the most fun person you know:

If you’ll let me, I’d love to find out and build on what you’re most interested in and share it with you. I like learning new things so I’m almost always happy to hear about whatever people are truly passionate about—big or small. I like to hear their opinions or even just their story. People can make me interested in something I’ve never pursued on my own.  I think if you have a real conversation with me about it, I can’t help but remember it and if I come across something that reminds me of you, I’ll send it back your way. In that way, I try to be considerate of what you like can send you very specific surprises, like a pun-filled doodle :)


Joe loves Moby Dick

Maybe it’s unlikely you’ll have a wild night where that you barely remember with me, but you might accidentally spend all day wandering around with me because we hop from one random activity to the next. As you know, I had met my great friend (and future roommate!) Matt at a park and ended up spending 12 hours with him that day. I’ve ended up traveling for days with two people (one in Croatia and one in Viet Nam) I had just randomly met up with.

You can talk to me and I always try to be open-minded. Although I do blab on sometimes, I am interested hearing stories about my friends. I’m also more interested in collecting novel experiences so I’m more apt to want to do things that you can’t do every night (ex: going to a bar). Instead, I might suggest going to an event or doing something outdoorsy. (I suppose I do propose ice cream quite frequently though…).

And finally, the reason it all works out in the end:

I want to make my friends laugh. Or smile. Or at least forget why you were having a crummy day to begin with. In anyway I can. 


Anyway, this has been what’s been at the top-of-my-mind this month and it was funny that I had found this thing I written so long ago. I am cautiously optimistic that I must be a pretty fun person to be around since my friends are so wonderful.

some people I've met here

some people I’ve met here

Your Turn:
  1. G says:

    You are exceptionally good at hunting out the middles of Venn diagrams anyhow, even when they aren’t obvious at first (or second. or third) glance.

  2. Jacklynn says:

    Maybe because, underneath it all, the bond of our humanity is greater than that of our differing life experiences.

    Mic drop.

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