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When Fun Feels Taxing: Surviving a Socially Packed Weekend

wine glasses clinking

Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

Last Thursday, I had that feeling of impending overwhelm. I looked at my calendar and saw four highly engaging events in a row starting on Friday at 4:15PM and running through Sunday morning. I saw very little downtime between endeavors and lots of being “on”.

Most introverts or highly sensitive people recognize this feeling of OMG how am I going to push through this without getting weary and edgy. 

Sustaining energy levels

I’ve had fairly good luck maintaining my energy levels lately. The high-quality and supportive relationship with my boyfriend, M, helps.

Maturity through age and experience also helps. I know better than ever how to boost my mood and energy. I also know I can handle more than I think I can handle.

Why we fear the stacked up schedule

But still I felt a little clutch in my chest about the lineup of activities for the weekend. Just for reference: We had two social events (happy hour, dinner/drinks) with two different groups on two nights; I had  a morning tour of Prince’s Paisley Park planned with a very dear friend and I had a meet and greet at a Barnes & Noble lined up on Saturday afternoon.

I think my biggest fear about the upcoming events was that I would be tired and not my best self. I feared I would let people down by not being warm, engaged/engaging and fun.

Me, Barnes & Noble meet and greet

Fun = pressure

Side note: There’s a lot of pressure to be fun. Creating an atmosphere of fun and actually personally being fun or even funny, are expectations that scare me a little. It feels like I must imbibe everything with high-pitched energy. There must be raucous laughter and hijinks. Everything must be very outward and out loud.

Introverts are not known for how fun they are.

And yet, I don’t think I’m boring.

Guess how the weekend went?

It was a really great weekend. Even when I got no sleep on Friday night due to my mind working overtime.

I’m sure I was running partly on adrenaline but overall I enjoyed every minute.

The secrets to making it all work without turning into a depleted drag?

  1. Owning our personality and nature. Warm and engaged is not fun but it is still likable and appealing. I love to listen to others’ stories. I am pretty good at relating their world to mine. I can even relay relevant personal stories to entertain them. I am not hilarious or bawdy all the time  (I do have my moments;), but I care and I’m there with an open mind. I am interested and sometimes even interesting.
  2. Surrounding ourselves with good people. You’ll know you are in the right crowd when you look forward to seeing them. You know you won’t have to carry the conversation. Perfection isn’t necessary. Realness is encouraged. They give you their funny stories and their worries. They show up consistently. M’s family showed up at the end of the book signing. They bought copies of my book and had me sign them. It genuinely felt like I had support and family. My own family is out-of-state. For both nights of socializing I felt like I was part of the family or group. I felt like I belonged, which is highly energizing.
  3. Pushing ourselves beyond what we think we can handle. Anxiety is overestimating the danger in something and underestimating our ability to handle it. Research shows the best way to ease anxiety is not to avoid those things that trigger it, but to learn how to live with a higher degree of discomfort. Fear of experiencing triggers only begets more fear. I thought about begging off from one of the social events but I was truly looking forward to each of them and experience has taught me I usually end up having an excellent time. The more I push myself out of my comfort zone and survive, the more confident I am the next time I am challenged.

Socializing creates energy?

Interestingly, I felt a big surge of energy on Sunday and Monday, even with all the socializing and the time change. I let myself take it easy on Sunday — nothing on the schedule. I was productive on Monday.

As taxing as being fun and social may seem, having fun and being with others seems to be what I need.

How do you prepare for a busy weekend? What makes it all go well? What makes it overwhelming? 

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2 Comments

  1. Julia March 17, 2018 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    Of course this post comes at the exact moment I need it! I have been feeling painfully overwhelmed with my “obligations” even though they are positive engagements!! My anxiety has been through the roof and I have been judging myself for feeling this way instead of having compassion that this is the way I am built. I love your description, “Anxiety is overestimating the danger in something and underestimating our ability to handle it.” I am going to sit with this discomfort instead of figuring out how to avoid it. Thank you Brenda 🙂

    • Brenda Knowles March 18, 2018 at 2:54 pm - Reply

      You know I feel you! It seems like we should be excited about all of our fun engagements but our nervous systems send out the distress call. I’m hoping to build my resilience to the point where the distress signal quiets. Cheering you on! May you get past the anxiety phase and to the enjoyment phase. 🙂

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