5 tips – prep for social events

kyoto-210092_1920.jpgI recently wrote about my busy weekend and my struggles before and during. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. One of my biggest problems was that I didn’t prepare for the weekend like an introvert. I was so focused on finishing all the tasks that I neglected to take care of myself. I assumed I’d have enough energy. Even though I hadn’t taken steps to recharge along the way. I wanted to share a few tips I’ll be using to avoid this problem in the future.

1. Schedule quiet time.
Plan for quiet time both before and after the event. Choose activities that are relaxing and rejuvenating. Write it in the calendar. Then follow through. If you can’t take a large chunk of time, take advantage of small moments of quiet. Some time is always better than none.

2. Embrace the unexpected.
As an introvert, I’m a planner. There’s nothing more satisfying than when a plan works out perfectly. But life is unpredictable and messy. I need to be okay with this. Having a flexible mindset doesn’t make the problems go away. But accepting that things can go wrong helps me to react more positively to changes and difficulties.

3. Mentally prepare.
I know that by going to a social event, I’ll be interacting with people. It will be draining. I try to remind myself that this is a perfectly normal feeling. I’m not weird or strange. I may not experience social events like an extrovert but I can certainly enjoy it my own way.

4. Dress for success.
When I wear something that makes me feel confident, that feeling extends to my interactions with others. I also try to wear something that’s fairly comfortable. When I start getting burned out, my physical sensations are heightened and wearing chafing or tight clothing makes me feel worse.

5. Plan your exit (in advance).
Before you even arrive at the event, set up a rough timeline. Decide what time you’re going to leave and give yourself permission to do so. If the time arrives and you want to stay longer, that’s great. But keep checking in with yourself. Try to leave before burnout sets in. It’s a lot easier to recharge a partially-filled battery than an empty one. Don’t feel guilty for leaving early. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do.

Do you have any other tips?

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Another busy weekend

japan-2014615_1920This past couple of weeks has been insane. I’ve been in preparation mode for a number of events, activities, and projects. With everything culminating this past weekend. As the deadline approached, I spent every spare moment finishing projects, organizing people, and working out last-minute details. Everything went well and it was a fun weekend. But I failed to get the necessary solitude during crunch time and it made an impact.

As a result, I was really struggling with burnout during the weekend, and especially on Sunday. My roommate and I had social activities on both Friday and Saturday. We then attended a local convention Sunday morning and afternoon. After that, we went out for bowling and dinner with friends. By the end of the night, I was highly irritable, emotional, and incapable of communicating coherently. I sat there miserably while the conversation flowed over me. It’s been a long time since I’ve been that burned out.

It’s Friday now and I’m still in recovery mode. Fortunately, this week has been a lot kinder. I went to dance class on Wednesday which was amazing. Both workouts and dance are great stress-relief outlets for me. I also spent all of Thursday evening relaxing quietly in my room which helped a lot.

I failed to plan for quiet time to recharge as I went through those two weeks. I thought I’d be okay if I just kept pushing myself. But I can’t survive on a filled-up social calendar with no time to recharge. Spring and summer are already looking pretty busy. So I need to be more proactive so I don’t end up burned out again. Lesson learned for sure.

Do you have any plans this weekend?

An introvert performs

theater-1477670_1920When I first signed up for dance lessons a year ago, I never thought I’d be performing. In fact, if you had told me that, I would have walked out. But as time shifts, so does our perspective.

My dance studio puts on a showcase twice a year. One in June and one in December. It’s an opportunity for private dance students to perform in front of an audience. But there are also several group dance routines to showcase different styles.

I originally signed up for samba because there wasn’t a showcase piece planned. But after a few weeks, our instructor suggested we perform too. Although hesitant at first, I began to consider it. I would be performing with 10 others, so I wouldn’t be alone and that helped to assuage the anxiety a bit. While the idea of performing was still scary, it was starting to look doable.

Eight weeks flew by and suddenly, it was showtime. That evening I arrived early at the venue. I chatted with a few people I knew to stave off the pre-show nerves. Then I headed to the ballroom and took my seat.

I was a bit jittery as we waited to be announced. But as soon as the music began, my nerves melted away. It was so much fun! I was able to really enjoy the moment. Then it was over and we were bowing and heading back to the foyer. High fives and smiles met us as we walked back through the door. I’ve never had that much fun performing before.

After changing into something a bit nicer, I headed back to my seat in the ballroom. I got to enjoy the rest of the evening stress-free. I excused myself soon after the show ended and drove home. It was a lovely evening but I was feeling pretty burned out. I savoured the silence in the car on the ride home. Fortunately, I had the place to myself the next day which allowed me to recharge and unwind.

How is your week going so far?

My samba experience

people-2601101_1920Last week I wrote about starting a new dance class. So I thought I’d share a quick follow up.

I had no idea what to expect in my first samba class. I wore my usual ballroom attire: dance shoes and business casual. But I soon learned I had made a terrible mistake. Everyone in the studio was clad in yoga pants and running shoes. Oh well, I thought, this is fine.

I started chatting with a lady I had met the previous week. Both of us were taking samba for the first time. Then I discovered something else. Despite advertising “continuous registration”, the class officially began five weeks ago. This meant we were both five weeks behind everyone else. This was a bit intimidating but I figured I’d try my best. Our instructor was encouraging but told us to “try to keep up”. This was easier said than done.

We started the class with a warm up and I immediately knew I was out of my league. The instructor led us through various movements. I attempted to imitate him by twisting and contorting my body in ways it had never moved before. I was a sweaty mess before we even started the routine.

After the warm up, our instructor went over the routine step by step. He also added a few new steps at the end. This was great. I was starting to remember the steps and pick up a little technique. Then we did the routine at 80 percent speed. That was more challenging. I missed a bunch of steps but I thought I did an admirable job of keeping up. Then we ran through the routine at normal speed. It was intense (look up samba music and you’ll see how fast it is). I think I managed to move in the right direction most of the time but my footwork was a mess.

But despite the chaos, I’m looking forward to this week’s class. I know that with time and lots of practice, even I can feel comfortable and confident in this new dance.

What are your plans this week?

Roommate challenges

girls-1209321_1920It’s been nearly three months since my extroverted roommate moved in. It’s been a good experience overall. Both of us keep things clean and tidy which is great. She’s a lovely person but there’s a huge difference in our personalities and it’s been a bit of a struggle at times.

To me, a roommate is someone who shares rent. Someone you can chat with when you cross paths. But otherwise you maintain separate lives. I get the feeling she’s looking for a best friend. Someone who’s game for late night pizza runs and all-nighters. But I’m not that person. I don’t have the energy nor the inclination.

She comes across as confident but she’s also needy. If she hears me in the kitchen, she’ll join me. If I’m in the living room, she’s sitting beside me or talking to me from her room. She’ll ask me where I’m going if I’m heading out. She’ll ask me why I’m getting back later after a dance class or workout. She’s likely just curious and making conversation, but it can be stifling. She got a gym membership at the same gym and suggested we work out together. Even if I wanted to, our schedules and routines are so different that I don’t see the point. I often dread going home. Sometimes I’ll spend time at a quiet coffee shop after work, to postpone the inevitable.

It hasn’t been all bad though. We’ve connected through a few shared hobbies. And I’ve been learning a lot. I’ve been getting plenty of chances to practice saying ‘no’. I’m learning to prioritize my health. And I no longer feel guilty for closing my door and recharging in my room. I’m really hoping that once it warms up she’ll get out more. And maybe I can have a quiet evening alone 😉

Do you have any suggestions?

 

Learning lessons the hard way

weddingI’ve been battling a pretty bad cold this last couple of weeks, hence my lack of posting recently. Thankfully, I’m almost back at 1oo% and I’m just dealing with the residual congestion that makes my voice sound deep and manly. Being out of commission for so long gave me time to think about a lot of things. Namely the importance of balance and how I tend to create problems for myself. I’ll explain.

Two Sundays ago, I had the privilege of attending my friend’s wedding. They asked me if I was willing to lend a hand and I said yes. I had several jobs assigned to me. Firstly, I helped set up chairs and decorations. Secondly, I was placed in charge of the kitchen. Thirdly, I was one of the door greeters. And fourthly, I helped tear down the decorations and clean up the kitchen. Yes, that is a lot of responsibility, but as it was a smaller wedding, and they had limited help, I agreed.

The schedule went something like this. We set up the chair covers and sashes for two hours on Saturday night. I got six hours of sleep and didn’t have time for a proper breakfast. I grabbed coffee, fruit, and a few granola bars and got to the venue for 8 am on Sunday. I helped set up decorations and tables and arranged food until 12 pm. I drove back to my place, threw on my dress, grabbed a banana, and drove back to the venue. I greeted people for an hour or so. I watched the ceremony, it went beautifully. I then spent the next half hour touching up decorations, placing food on tables, and making coffee and tea. I sat down for the toasts and first dance. Then spent the next couple of hours running back and forth between the kitchen, refilling the coffee and tea urns, and keeping the food stocked.

By 3 pm, I wasn’t feeling very well. The granola bars and fruit had long worn off and I was using more energy than I was taking in. Being both gluten free and lactose sensitive, the majority of the food was off limits. I indulged in the only thing I could eat: a huge plate of raw veggies and a few glasses of water. The headache kicked in around 5 pm and I felt nauseated and weak. At 6:30 we began tear down and I cleaned up the kitchen. By the time I headed home it was nearly 8 pm and I was beyond starving. Since my body was in such a weakened state, I wasn’t surprised when I woke up with a sore throat a couple of days later.

Getting sick was avoidable and completely my fault, and as such I’m not looking for sympathy. I did this to myself. You can’t destroy your body and expect to avoid the consequences. However, on a positive note, it was a learning experience. I realized I still cater too much to other’s needs at the expense of my own. Do I regret helping out? Of course not, I’m so happy I could help make their day extra special. But I was approaching it from the wrong perspective. There were things I should have done to make the experience easier on me, while still helping them out.

It all boils down to the fact that I still don’t have enough respect for myself. I put myself on a lower level of importance, beneath the wishes and desires of others. Its a wake up call and a reminder that I need to take time to ask myself how I’m feeling, to evaluate my energy level and my health, and act accordingly. Taking time to eat throughout the day is not selfish, its necessary for survival. Taking a 5 minute break to drink some water and eat a sandwich isn’t going to derail the whole process. I’ve made great strides in overcoming these things, but I tend to slip back into old habits when I’m under pressure. Its been a good reminder to take care of myself better, in any situation.

Have you had any similar experiences or realizations?

Image credit: “Pre-Wedding” by Jakrapong Kongmalai is licensed under CC by 2.0