It’s a Friday night and your friends are begging you to hang out with them, yet after a long week of work and school, all you want to do is have pad thai delivered to your doorstep and stay at home—I get it. The introvert’s dilemma of going out or staying in is one that I’m all too familiar with, as someone who needs twice as much alone time for every social interaction. I used to try and feign outgoingness, even when I could feel my social battery draining, which always did more harm than good. As important as it is to show up for your friends and commitments, it’s also crucial to do so while taking care of your mental and physical health.
The hardest thing is getting over the fear of saying no to plans. No one wants to disappoint anyone, especially those with a smidge of social anxiety. However, in my experience, it’s better to be honest with your expectations for yourself and to anticipate a recharge sesh instead of having to raincheck two hours before. Maybe you don’t want to miss out on an event or simply haven’t seen your friends in a while, but mentally and physically you’re not up for a social outing; listen to your body and don’t force yourself. Remember that there will be other things to go to in the future and that your well-being is more important.
Another important step is to own your self-care. Instead of telling people that I need a night off, I’d make up excuses in order to seem busy and validate my inability to follow through with plans. I was afraid that I’d come off as boring if I said that I simply just didn’t feel like going out. Doing so made me feel even worse about setting boundaries, which is how I realized that it’s better for me and my friends to be upfront with my intentions. It’s okay to need a moment to yourself and to prioritize those moments over ones spent with other people.
It can be difficult to take a step back from social settings, especially considering the pressure of social media and the constant Instagram stories of people having fun. Whenever the FOMO is hitting me, I like to remind myself that my introvertedness doesn’t stop me from ever going out, it just means I need a little extra time to recharge before and after I do and that’s okay. Setting boundaries for yourself will not only establish certain expectations between you and your friends, but will also help you develop a better relationship with yourself. Always listen to what your body and mind need, and the rest will fall into place.