It’s a funny thing, defending something you enjoy to the well-meaning.
I enjoy doing things alone.
I have spent more hours than I care to admit in social activities I endured instead of enjoying, some with large groups, regular friends, new people, and as a couple. There were plenty of times I had a blast for the first two hours, in large groups, dancing in clubs, bowling, games, hikes, and so on. The problem wasn’t that I’m antisocial; I’m not. I don’t have social anxiety. I love addressing large groups, even at a moment’s notice. I meet people easily and am a pro at making others feel at ease in social small talk.
The issue is I have a shorter period of enjoyment in an extended activity than most people. I can’t even spend long periods in any one activity by myself. When alone, I switch gears and activities and buzz along, being super productive when I allow my flow to move naturally. Alone, I can change my mind on a dime. I can’t let my SO know my plans for the day for safety reasons or just out of courtesy because I don’t know where I’ll end up. I’ve driven 4 hours to Portland when the original plan was a day hike outside the city I lived in. And if I think of a better idea when I’m halfway there, I change routes.
Some of the most amazing experiences I have ever had rely on this submission to impulse. Some of the most dangerous situations have occurred for the same reason.
I’ve camped alone, hiked, gone to dinner alone, danced in clubs in Portland and Seattle, and met the most amazing people. I love people.
I’ve taken long drives, unknown turn-offs leading to incredible places, places I never would have known existed if I had followed an itinerary or another person’s will.
I end up feeling like a wet blanket with others, making the people who just want me to have fun feel bad because my loss of attention makes them feel they are boring, even eventually doubt the validity of an established friendship. I need alone time to recover. In the moment, I begin to feel antsy, then agitated after my interest wanes in a setting or activity. It isn’t the fault of the people I have joined, they aren’t there to entertain me, but my short attention span damages relationships, make me look selfish (which I clearly am, so there’s that), and it’s exhausting.
In dealing with this, I have found the following to help determine if I’m honoring myself or appeasing others. I consider the following:
- Do I enjoy the suggested activity, or is it a “should”? In a should situation, I find that people tell you that you should want it, follow up with interrogation if you don’t, then eventually judge you.
- I determine the time involved, day or overnight, cost, enjoyment, pros, and cons, then decide in a self-loving manner if I really will do it. Reflect on past experiences to weed out “shoulds.”
- Evaluate social pressure, own neurosis, and unrealistic expectations.
- Always love me enough to say no.
Always love me enough to say yes.