Raise your hand if you think being an “introverted extrovert” applies to you? *raises hand with sass*
To be honest, I didn’t realize this about myself until the past few years. I grew up in a family atmosphere where every Friday night we would sit down and watch a TV show or movie together and I LOVED it. I can vividly remember getting the mail everyday after school and waiting for the next Netflix envelope to appear so I could take a peek at the new movie we would get to watch!
I would get the occasional invite to a friends house, but if it landed on a Friday night and I had a “long day at school” I normally opted for the family movie. It’s not that I didn’t want to hang out with my friends, I just really enjoyed spending time with my family and being able to go to bed whenever I got tired. As I got older, I found it was harder and harder to keep friends because I constantly wanted to stay in. Friends are kind of like plants, if you don’t water them and give them attention, they well, okay maybe not because plants die, but in this case, they find new friends. I’m great at making friends, but the social obligations, if you will, of going to events and parties and dinners every week, THAT is where I get hung up. I’m just terrible at it.
It confuses people because I am normally the person in the room talking the loudest or snorting the loudest ( weird thing that just started happening when I laugh- thanks Mom). I love being around people, don’t get me wrong, but I also love time to myself.
At this point in my life, I’m very much the same way. I love to stay at home and watch Netflix shows and make dinner ( okay Stefan makes dinner most nights) and to be quite frank, I have a hard time lasting in social situations longer than 3-4 hours- I just start to crave that “me time”.
What I’ve found is that it’s okay to want “me time” and to not go to every.single.social.event; HOWEVER, if you want your close group of friends to stay friends, you have to make more of an effort ( which I personally have always had to try hard at).
Here are five things I have learned along the way:
1. Learn to say no, but know when to say yes– I used to automatically say yes to every event and then back out at the last minute which just makes everyone upset. Instead, I’ve started to say “let me get back to you” so I can look at my calendar and make sure I can fully commit to the event or dinner with a friend. If I know work is going to be stressful that week, I propose a different date. This way I don’t feel overloaded and the other person knows I want to see them. The flipside of this is if it’s an important event (i.e. birthday celebration, holiday event, etc.), these are the exceptions and should be a firm YES. Think of it this way- when it’s your birthday, you want friends to come celebrate you right? So if you don’t celebrate them, why would they come celebrate you?
Be the friend that you want in return ( I say this to myself constantly).
2. Don’t be afraid to put a time limit on the outing/event– As I mentioned above, my time limit is normally 3-4 hours in a social setting. If I’m going out with a friend but know I have other things to get done, etc. I will let them know I have to leave at “x” time so the expectation is set from the start. Marrying into a large Greek family has been challenging for me in this regard. There are family events every weekend and if it fits into our schedule then Stefan and I normally set a time limit for how long we will stay. I find that I enjoy my time much more this way and focus on creating memories rather than anxiety of “how long until we leave.” Now then, I want to set one thing straight at this point: the reason I feel an itch to leave isn’t because I get bored or I don’t like people; it’s because I’m afraid I will start to look disinterested. I LITERALLY can’t focus on talking to different people for longer than 3-4 hours before I just looked disinterested and I never want someone to feel as though I’m ignoring them or don’t care about what they have to say. Either that or I just get tired and I’m ready for a nap. Either way, when I’m at a social event, i want to truly BE THERE. Be PRESENT. My sense of being present ends at about 4 hours, so there ya go!
3. Plan Mini Dates- I love me a mini-date! These are what I plan 99% of the time and what I find works best for me- they are the coffee date, workout date, shopping date- quick and easy ways to catch up with friends! Again, don’t be afraid to set the time limit- everyone has an agenda so don’t be afraid to share yours.
4. Be honest with yourself and those around you- Be honest. Tell your friends you love them, but you personally need more “me time” and space than others- they will respect it- or they should if they are going to be your friend. I have a few friends that would love to hang out every single week, but to be honest, between our work schedules, the dog, family time, etc. it normally ends up being once every 3-4 weeks and THAT’S OKAY. Just be upfront. Stefan referees soccer every Thursday night and I normally take this time to myself and binge watch every episode of Friends or Sex and the City I can possibly get in during this time frame haha. Side note: I’m thinking I’m more of a Charlotte? We are also very honest with each other and I let him know when we’ve scheduled too many events in one weekend and I need a mental break.
5. Check-ins are important– Even if you aren’t seeing your friends every few weeks, check-in with them. Schedule a facetime, phone call or send a text to let them know you’re thinking about them. The message goes a long way and it’s such an easy way to maintain a friendship that’s important to you. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to sound so methodical about my friendships, but for someone that gets a tad bit of social anxiety, it’s important for me to find the structure and put myself in-check.
The bottom line is this: it’s okay to not go to every event, just be honest with the people you hold close to your heart and say yes when it’s really important. It took me a while to learn this and I still struggle with feeling like im “enough” of a friend sometimes, but it’s all part of staying true to who you are and knowing that when you are your best self, you are in return giving your best self to your friends as well.
I hope you enjoyed this post- please share any of your tips/tricks below 🙂