Negotiating Energy

There are very few times when I want to "go out” at night.

If you don’t know me very well, you might say “Oh, you’ll like it once you’re there.” If I’m feeling generous, I might fake it and say, “Yeah, maybe,” and proceed with planning my night in. Because the truth is, I probably won’t like it. I might go and regret it the whole time and pretend to be having a good time. I might resent the people who brought me but vow to have an honest conversation with them later about my limits and boundaries. I might enjoy it for a little while and then pay for it heavily tomorrow. Or I might go because I know it’s important, and spend the time either having a good time or doing damage control—shoving earplugs into my ears, taking a “smoke break” even though I don’t smoke, or spending a lot of time going through my bag because it’s a good way to avoid eye contact. But no matter what, I’ll be thinking about tomorrow.

People have lots of reasons for staying in, refusing to stay up late, not wanting to meet new people, or go to a show. And a lot of you aren’t sorry about it (YAY). And you don’t need to justify it or make excuses to anyone, because your time is yours. For me, though, realizing why my limits often felt so much lower than everyone else’s became a way of learning how to advocate for myself.

After many nights of pretending I was having a good time, leaving early, feeling anxious and then getting exhausted, feeling hung over the next day even though I hardly drank—and several therapy appointments—I started to understand the boundaries of myself and the way that I navigate the social world by negotiating energy. My social energy and my capacity for sensory input are far lower than that of most of my friends. I’m used to it, and now that I understand my mental and sensory health, I don’t shame myself about it anymore. I don’t let other people shame me for it either. I’m glad I know what and where those boundaries are, so that I can respect them and myself. I’m glad that I can tell people what I need and what I won’t do because certain social situations are inaccessible. 

Because sometimes going out at night means that I pay for it for days, and I just don’t have time for that shit.

For my reasons, and your reasons, and everyone else’s reasons, sometimes it takes a lot of energy to live in the world. And sometimes living in the world today means planning for living in the world tomorrow. I’m ok with that. I’m glad I’m in good company.

And I’m not sorry for staying in either.

Alison