This past weekend, I left a bachelorette party early. Here’s why and how.
To be fair, my anxiety about this party had been mounting since it entered my calendar. Who was going? Would I know anyone? How many people would be there? Where will I sleep? All questions that race through an introverts mind. My husband (bless him) kept telling me to calm down, and that everything would be fine. I tried going in with a positive attitude, and on the first night, that worked. There weren’t that many people, and it was relatively low-key and chill, so I was vibing and having fun. The second day, as more people started arriving, I felt myself shutting down.
As a self-described “textbook Leo,” some people I know quite well are surprised when I describe myself as antisocial or introverted. I do love the spotlight, but only in the context of people I know and trust. Once you’re in with me, you’re in, and I feel safe enough to be my best and funniest self around you. But with people who I don’t know yet, I’m way more reserved. I’m constantly feeling people out trying to figure out if I vibe with them, if I have anything in common with them, etc. The larger the group setting, the harder it is to do that. In this case, I wound up as the oldest person in a group of girls who had all gone to high school or college together. A lot of the conversations centered around “remember when” or people who I never knew–nothing for me to add there. It can be quite isolating to be in those situations, especially as an introvert.
I tried my best to make the situation work for me–but it wasn’t about me. It was about the bride, and I never for a moment wanted to be a wet blanket or to be a spoil-sport. So, after much hemming and hawing (and texting friends and husband), I decided to leave early. Before I did that, though, I let the girl-gang leave on their party bus with intentions to meet up with them later (in my own car; needed a quick escape). As soon as they left and I was alone, I felt instantly better. I could hear birds chirping. I felt the sun and breeze on my body. I observed a hummingbird sipping nectar from a pink flower. I could again feel mindful and present in the world, rather than caught in the vortex of commotion of socialization happening all around me, that I didn’t feel a part of.
Here’s the thing: It’s okay not to be a part of it. Not every social situation we engage in is about us (in fact, most are not). What I’m proud of is that I did go, I did show my support, and I hung as long as I could before my discomfort overwhelmed me. I later learned that the discomfort I experienced during the swirls of uninterrupted, long-term social activity might have a name: Introvert hangover, which is apparently a real thing. For me, it was simply all too much.
Of course, I’m an introvert, not an asshole, so I texted the bride (my sister in law) and let her know that I was heading home, and that I cannot wait to be by her side as a bridesmaid at her wedding. No hard feelings were had (but I would be lying if I didn’t feel just a tad guilty before I had fully committed to bailing). I knew the party would continue in my absence, and since I wanted no part of said party anymore…the solution was clear.
What an immense relief it was, to pack up my belongings and retreat to my air-conditioned car, accompanied by my favorite epidemiology podcast. What joy I felt, when I stepped through the door into my apartment to greet my husband and two cats. I was overwhelmed with gratitude at the life that was my own, that I had built for myself.
Here are some takeaways I learned from this experience:
- If you’re uncomfortable/miserable/unhappy in a situation, it is completely acceptable to remove yourself from that situation.
- Not being great at socializing in certain situations doesn’t invalidate your personhood.
- Just because you’re not “funny” or “fun” around those people, doesn’t mean you’re not funny or fun.
- It’s okay to want to be alone sometimes.
- It’s okay to observe people and know they’re not part of your “tribe.”
- It’s okay to retreat to a safe place when you need to.
- I’m an emotional creature and I need certain things in my environment to be comfortable and thrive.
What about you…are you an introvert? Have you ever left a party early? Tell me about it in the comments.