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Question: I make plans with my friends, but I’d really rather stay home…
What are some ways to motivate oneself to actually go out? I’m always excited about plans with friends but when it’s time to actually go do them, I always want to bail even though I know I’ll have fun when I go.
Answer: Give yourself a break.
Yoooooo, I relate to this so hard! I’m a major introvert, and although I adore my friends and love going on adventures, I also require a lot of alone time to process my experiences as well as a lot of quiet because my senses get overwhelmed pretty easily. Here are some of the strategies I use to help myself cope with social commitments:
- Promise yourself some time off. Schedule it, and make it non-negotiable. Even if it’s just a couple hours here and there. It’s extremely hard to enjoy being around other people if deep down you just want to be alone.
- Don’t stop at home before going out if you can help it. If I stop at home, chances that I’ll leave the house again are drastically reduced. Why would I leave when I could just take a nap?
- Find something to look forward to about it. Think about that friend you get to see for the first time in years, or the outfit you’ve been saving for a special occasion. (Also, if you don’t look forward to anything about it and aren’t morally obligated to be there, cancel.)
- Coordinate with your friends. It’s much easier to attend social events if I know someone there who is looking forward to seeing me. It also helps if I don’t have to arrive or leave alone.
- Give yourself permission to leave. If anything doesn’t feel right when you get there, whether it’s a matter of safety, personal comfort, or you’re just tired, you decide when you’ve had enough and it’s time to go home.
- Be honest about your feelings. I sometimes tell my friends, “I want to hang out, but I might need to leave early because I get a little stressed out in crowds.” Often, I’m not the only one, and if we need to change plans to help everyone feel comfy, that’s not a problem.
- Make plans that are easy to keep. Not everything has to be a production! Invite one or two friends over for a movie night or a puppy play date at the dog park. Pick something that doesn’t require major preparation, outfit planning, or figuring out where to park. Keep it as uncomplicated as possible.
- Allow yourself some recovery time. If you go to a party on Saturday night, you get a free pass to not speak to strangers on Sunday.
Finally, it’s worth noting that as a society we are busier than ever, and we are hella stressed. Modern life puts huge demands on our brains as we expect ourselves to work 40+ hour weeks, support families, build businesses, and still have glamorous social lives we can brag about online. It’s exhausting, and probably more people than you realize feel the same way you do. Navigating social situations in particular is one of the most demanding things we do with our brains, so if yours is saying “no thank you” to more social time, respect that!