I’ve talked before about being a social introvert. I know it seems to counter everything I’ve disclosed about myself, but I enjoy going out and doing things and seeing friends. It’s just that sometimes, the very thought of it drains me. This is why I have a serious problem with FOMO (fear of missing out).

The eternal struggle

Forget Hamlet’s existential crisis; ”to go out or to stay in?” is the real question. There are some times when I just can’t. It’s been a long week, I’ve had plans accounting for most of my time and I just can’t bear any more, so my weekend plans consist of doing nothing. But, even when that while I’m soaking up every moment of alone time, I can’t help but channel Mindy Kaling (“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”). What am I missing out on? Shouldn’t I be having adventures and Instagramming brunches and getting my party on, like everyone else?

Make it count

Sometimes it’s not worth it to push yourself. It’s easy to be persuaded to “just come” even though you really and truly don’t want to. Every introvert knows that feeling– you’re sitting amongst your friends, thinking, “I’m tired. Can I go home now?” while they’re having the time of their lives. And it makes you feel miserable, and your friends say you look miserable and all you can think is, “I told you so.”Sometimes, though, giving into the FOMO is good. You just need to be in the right headspace.

A couple of weeks ago, I tried to make plans for a Friday evening. It had been a while since I’d gone out, though, and I thought “why not?” What I didn’t consider at the time, however, was that it happened to be St. Patrick’s Day. A few friends were going to a hockey game and suggested we meet up afterwards. The idea of going out later than I had planned, alone, and meeting at a crowded bar on the busiest pub night of the year was just too much. So, I politely passed and opted for a night to myself instead. I had a solo jaunt around the mall and had just come home, exhausted from the crowds and lights and loud, trendy music and settled down to a late dinner before a bath with a good book. And that’s when I got the text: “We’re going to the bar. You should meet us there.”

Here’s where my FOMO kicked in hard. It was going to be late, I was going to have to go alone, the streetcar ride would be long, it would be too crowded and we wouldn’t get a table or have space to move around. But…my friends were going to go out without me. The internal debate took a while, but I decided it was something I wanted to go and, more importantly, I had enough time to prepare. I used the hour and a half before I was to meet them to plug in my charger to get just enough energy to make it through the rest of the night. I ate my dinner, I watched a bit of tv, took my time getting ready and took an Uber instead of a long, noisy, crowded streetcar. And you know what? I had a great time!

Quote: In terms of, like, instant relief, cancelling plans is like heroin

A social introvert?!

My mom calls me a social butterfly. I call me an introvert. Who’s right? Well, believe it or not, both of us. My calendar is usually pretty full and I’m always planning some activity with one friend or another. That’s right, I’m a social introvert.

Yes, like the M&M guys, we do exist. Just because we’re introverts doesn’t mean we hate people. I mean, sure, some of us genuinely prefer a good book and solitude to socializing 100% of the time. But some of us still like to get together with friends, go to crowded events or *gasp* go to a party.

Running an energy tab

As I’ve mentioned before, the biggest difference between extroverts and introverts is how we recharge our batteries. For the most part, I enjoy socializing. One might even accuse me of having FOMO. However, as much fun as I’m having, socializing is work for me and every interaction has an energy cost.

Small talk with acquaintances, for instance, can be fairly pricey, but doesn’t tend to last long. Hanging out with my best friend is very low-cost, but over an extended period, the tab can really rack up. Add a few more close friends and the cost increases. Put us somewhere crowded, like a restaurant or somewhere loud, like a bar or concert, and the bill starts to go through the roof. I might be having the time of my life, but I’ll be running on fumes and likely need a full day to recharge.

Hitting the wall

At a certain point each day, I’m just done. It might come earlier some days than others, depending on how much recharging time I’ve been getting. If I’ve had plans every day after work, which is sometimes the case, and haven’t had some good quality quiet time a night, I’m no use to the world by Friday.

For this reason, it’s not uncommon for the social introvert to bail. The social part of me is excited to make lots of fun plans and see the people I care about. The introvert part of me, however, may have other things in mind. It can come across as flakey, inconsiderate or downright rude, but please know that I really did intend to do the thing I committed to doing. It’s just that I spent all of my social energy and simply can’t afford to use up any more. Just like you wouldn’t have a shopping trip when your bank account is in overdraft.

Trust me when I say that at that point, it’s better for all involved if I don’t try. Trust me when I also say that I’ve likely wrestled with the decision of whether or not to cancel for an absurd amount of time. I’ve pictured myself going through the process of getting to my destination and having interactions and the thought alone exhausts me. I do feel bad about bailing on you. It’s just that the guilt is soon replaced by a glorious sense of relief that I don’t have to be “on.”