Embracing Your Social Limitations

Embracing Your Social Limitations

Here’s the thing about me: I cannot hang. I just have social limitations.

I love friends and I like to socialize, but after an unspecified amount of social time, I start deflating like a leaky balloon. I’m sure I’m not the only introvert who feels this way!

If I am heading into a social event, I have to mentally prepare. I subconsciously budget the amount of time and energy that I will have to be “on.” If the socializing goes beyond that allotment…to put it lightly, I die. I slowly fade away from the conversation, start zoning out, and then suddenly find myself completely shut down inside my own head where there is only one, very loud thought repeating at high volume; “LEAVE.”

There is no preventing this reaction. It’s like hitting the send button on an email – once the LEAVE chorus starts singing, it will not be hushed until I return to my couch, a blanket, and episodes of House Hunters.

For example, a few weeks ago I went to a social event that I thought would only be a casual hour and a half long. Instead, it turned into a several hour long affair. One second I was making light conversation and the next second the LEAVE button had been hit and I was in a fast downward spiral.

How did I handle it? I went to the bathroom to gather myself, teared up for a second, then abruptly left with no explanation whatsoever. Then I walked home through 30 degree, arguably unsafe downtown Philadelphia because at that point I could not even face saying hi to an Uber driver. It was truly that bad.

On my walk home that night, I was annoyed. Not at my introversion for not being able to hang, not at my friends for wanting to hang out for longer, but at myself for pushing myself farther than I knew I wanted to go. I knew that I would hit my social limit, and I didn’t make a graceful exit before I had fully shut down. Socializing is like exercising: if you overexert yourself, you’re gonna end up hurt.

Today’s world has lot of pressure (especially with social media) to always be out doing fun things, exploring new places, and taking part in a million activities. It is so easy to feel FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) when you see other on Snapchat looking like they’re having the time of their lives. But just because constant activity is what the world says you should be enjoying, doesn’t mean it’s true! You have to know yourself, and know what brings you joy. It’s so important to fill your time doing things you enjoy, and not do things just because you feel like they’re what you “should be doing.”

Don’t be afraid to say “no.” You don’t even need an excuse – just a simple, “No, I can’t make it,” or “No, I’m going to head home.” It can feel rude to bow out of activities, but in reality it’s far ruder to not take care of yourself. This is a lesson I am constantly trying to learn and put into practice.

Do you have social limitations? Can you relate? Or are you a social butterfly who is baffled when people don’t want to hang out at all times? I would love to know!

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