When I was younger, I was really really shy. I didn't like to be in crowds because they overwhelmed me and I felt like I could get lost really easily.
But then when I developed my eating disorder, I actually preferred to be in crowds as opposed to smaller gatherings. Because I could get lost. I could slip into the background and no one would notice me. Especially at parties, family gatherings, work things, ect. I would prefer crowds because then no one would notice that I wasn't eating. No one would notice if I wasn't engaging in conversations with everyone. It was easier to just hide in a crowd instead of always having to put on my "mask" of being okay. That mask of pretending like I was happy, fun, go-lucky... because sometimes, I just didn't have the energy to pretend like everything was fine - while inside I was falling apart.
Now that I am in recovery, things have changed again. I don't mind being in crowds. I like it sometimes. But I think that I prefer smaller gatherings because I am able to connect with people better. And connection is something that is so important to me. It's something I crave. Something I need. I have always needed it - but I pushed it away for so long and didn't realize how much I needed it until I was able to start letting go of the eating disorder and actually let people in. And now, it's something that I cherish.