Today I went to a parade. I was not happy about it.
I started off being really upset at all the people who had, starting more than 36 hours before the parade, blocked off space with chairs, canopies, and ropes, and left them sitting there. Even at the start of the parade, an astonishing number of these "reserved" spaces were completely unoccupied and most of them had empty seats. (My family sat next to the largest canopy I saw all day--I believe that one woman and her infant child came and sat under it, using one of the six camp chairs that had been left to hold the spot.)
So I was angry about the greed and waste and inconsiderateness of the whole thing, and I realized that I was projecting that on everyone I met. At one point I was carrying an umbrella (to provide my family with some shade, since we aren't supposed to use the enormous, empty canopy that we're sitting next to) and I realized that I was hoping it would hit everyone and everything I passed. In short, I was being misanthropic.
I also realized that this is similar to how I feel about other large gatherings of people. In October I went to an SEC college football game. I was really cranky about that too, and ultimately left at half time. (Incidentally, the home team came back from a significant deficit to lose in overtime. By all measures it was a fantastic game, as college football games go.)
But during the tailgate party I went to and the part of the game that I did attend, I saw that this was more than a chance to stand in the hot sun on a humid day and possibly watch a few minutes of actual playing take place. It was a chance to interact with 100,000 other people who were all sharing this same experience of watching the game. I wasn't enjoying that aspect of the event, but I could tell that most of the people around me were.
It turns out that, while I do okay at times and have generally been getting "better" (just last week I spent 3 solid workdays talking to a room full of people), I'm an introvert. I don't get all excited about sharing my life and the various events in it with huge masses of people.
This is something I've encountered in a couple of articles written by what I think are some very introspective, neurotic people. They both noted that some people just prefer to not be in a huge crowd, nor to be the center of attention. We aren't sad being alone, and we don't need to be "saved" (as happens in so many movies).
(On the other hand, I went to only one football game while I was in college (the first time) at the prompting of a well-meaning friend who wanted to save me from my reclusive ways. He met a girl at a tailgate party and made me sit next to her, and now I'm married to her. So what do I know?)
(On the gripping hand, I only enjoyed that football game because I spent it talking to her instead of paying attention to the game, which my school's team won by a large margin.)