‘Tis the season for demanding interactions. People want your time, and they want to catch up. And mostly this is a good thing. Who doesn’t want a little human connection? But when it’s not a good thing, I remember these two things.

Remember these two things

Original photo by Andrew Bui

Lately I’ve been wondering why I’m so exhausted, and I’ve realized I’m over-scheduled. It’s hard for me to do a lot in one day if that involves human interaction. And since I teach, I generally have at least 30 human interactions with students a day. (Usually it’s more.) So by the end of the day I’m drained.

In November and December, I find myself fighting tooth and nail to keep my time to myself. If I already have to speak with students, there’s no energy when I’m done. But that doesn’t stop the onslaught of holiday parties.

Fun fact: I’ve recently realized that all my holiday depression isn’t due to the actual holidays, but because I just don’t get enough alone time to recharge.

An Introvert Problem

This is a big introvert problem. There are moments at parties where I look at the room, and my vision zooms out and feel like I’m not a part of what’s actually going on — just an observer. (This is because mostly I am.) I feel this sinking feeling in my stomach, kind of like homesickness, and then I regret showing up because I know I’m going to be a huge downer for everyone else because I’m not displaying my holiday joy appropriately.

You're Not Displaying Your Holiday Joy Appropriately

Sorry. I’m just not a party person. I’m a “go get coffee with one to two people person” or a “sit at the bar with my best friend and chat” person.

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Introvert problem: not displaying your holiday joy appropriately Share on X

However, I should note that if you aren’t part of The Inner Circle, then having a one-on-one meeting is equally as hard as a house party for me.

I’ve gotten really good at making up excuses as to why I won’t be at someone’s event.

“Sorry, my work schedule won’t allow it.”

“Bummer, man, I have a family thing.”

“I’ll let you know as soon as I check my calendar.”

(This last one is then followed by radio silence wherein I do not actually check my calendar.)

Maybe this makes me an asshole, but I also think it makes me feel balanced. I’ve talked before about how you shouldn’t carry something that isn’t yours. For me, attending large gatherings ain’t the part of the relationship that’s mine to carry. (Though, I’m always there if you need a one-on-one dinner.)

Remember These Two Things

For now, whenever I feel like someone has asked something of me that I can’t handle, I remember these two things:

  1. I don’t owe them anything.
  2. My life is none of their business.

I’ve found that saying these two things out loud to myself is oddly freeing.

But think about it.

I don’t owe anyone anything. Except, well, the Subaru Corporation. They get a payment from me monthly. But as far as people go, I don’t owe people my presence or attention. I don’t have to show up to stuff I don’t want to do. I don’t have to put myself in situations that make me uncomfortable, even if it’s fun for others.

Say it. “I don’t owe anyone anything.” It’s weird how freeing it is.

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But what if you start to feel guilty? What if you feel like you owe them an explanation? What if someone wants to get up in your face and ask why you can’t be physically present?

Just remember that your life is none of their business.


If I had a dollar for every time a well-meaning acquaintance asked me to explain why I couldn’t do a thing that I would absolutely hate, I would literally quit my day job.

(And if you’re a person who thinks you have a right to goad me into doing something I would hate by asking me why I can’t do something I wouldn’t enjoy, I think you should give me a dollar so I CAN quit my day job.)

And there you have it. Just remember these two things and you’re well on your way to saving your sanity this holiday season.

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How do you balance your time during the holidays? What’s things do you remember to prevent yourself from doing things you don’t wanna do?


6 Responses

  1. I already feel overwhelmed by the season and it isn’t even December. *I* don’t have many plans but my husband does so I’m kind of left with a load of things to do on the side and now I feel like I’m not going to keep up.

    Trying to let go of some expectations and only do a little bit this year instead.

    1. I think letting go of expectations is key. It’s so easy to try to be Pinterest perfect during the holidays, and I always think that involves doing way more than I can, as well as way more parties than I’m capable of.

  2. I feel like this during so many different times of the year. I need my alone time to recharge or I will completely shutdown! While I wish that people understood this more, your two things are completely correct. I will just need to remind myself of them in the next little bit.

    1. It’s so tough to keep alone time sacred! But the more you practice saying these two things, the easier it definitely gets.

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