The song, What are you doing New Year’s Eve is playing constantly. I always wonder, “who gets a thousand invitations?”
How many are “enough” invitations? For me, at the moment, none. None are enough. Admitting this has been a long, sloggy-yet-steady climb towards not socializing in situations that I don’t enjoy.
I don’t enjoy parties where everyone is drinking, especially after a few hours of drinking. Cocktail dresses are a beauty contest I don’t enjoy unless I want to gussy up for someone. Someone, not public consumption. Even when I feel pretty, its fraught with anxious monitoring of male attention. I don’t enjoy small talk or being judged by my hairstyle. I like hairstyles! (My hair is currently three shades of purple and orange, it looks fabulous and weirdly natural.) I don’t enjoy pretending to be happy together when only two or three of us are actually happy. It’s exhausting.
The more I understand about enough, the more I trust relationships built by engaging with other people’s thinking, over time. Understanding others as they understand themselves. You don’t get that opportunity at most parties. Satisfying social experiences are reading, writing, deep conversation, mutual problem solving. I love mutual problem solving so much, I’ve made it my profession.
The nourishment and intimacy I need from others is the kind that fills me with ease, strengthens the soundness of my reasoning and encourages faith in my experiences. It makes me feel good because it is, deeply, good. When I socialize well, I love myself more after sharing time with others. Rather than leave feeling like I’m not young enough or thin enough or smart enough about life or I talk too much or … whatever.
Not everyone experiences social time the way I do. Some of you are true extroverts and more power to you! I adore watching people who are energized by interaction interact. Its art. I am extremely outgoing, I enjoy the theater of society sometimes. And - it exhausts me. I prefer a book, a fireplace and discovering who you really are, until I can feel your presence.
Second only to conversation with a close friend, yoga classes and focused retreats are my preferred social situations. By far. After September 11th, I spent New Years on a 10 day mediation retreat like this one. Everyone was working on their shit together. Some were in the towers when they were hit; we sat with everything we were experiencing. Our teachers gently guided us into our stuck spaces and our anger. Sprinkled throughout, there was laughter and some ease. Retreats, solitary road trips, hikes alone or with my husband and a few incredible spa experiences are, by far, my most memorable and meaningful celebrations.
I know alone together time doesn’t satisfy every social need I have. I also love engaging with people. Understanding ‘enough’ is recognizing that my hours are not unlimited. Prioritizing my reasons for socializing (aka leaving the house), I discover that I like working with others more than partying with them. I’ve decided that’s enough for now.
What am I doing New Years? Sleeping when I get tired. But with a festive feeling of special celebration, perhaps a kiss at midnight if I’m still awake. The beauty of the holidays is the quiet, amazingly-enjoyable down time I luxuriate in while everyone else is busy partying.