Right now I am going through a very difficult time. My close friends and family are aware and supportive, and I’m getting the help I need personally and professionally. But I don’t feel like going to parties, neighborhood gatherings, happy hours, etc. and I would like to bow out of social events while I get through this. I want to come home from work and nurture myself as much as possible through solitude. I am introverted as it is, and the situation is using up all of my emotional resources. If I were traveling around the world for six months people would say “Cool, see you when you get back!” If I were studying for the bar people would say “Cool, call us when you need a break!” But if I say, “I’m going through a difficult time and don’t want to socialize for six months,” then the responses will range from pity to avoidance.
If I don’t say anything but just turn down invites, which is what I have been doing, the invites will drop off and my social scene will evaporate. What can I say that will stop the invites for a while without introducing drama, and that will give me an opportunity to pick up where we left off in six months or so? I live in a small enough place that once your drama is known, it’s known. And I do not want it known. What are some socially acceptable ways to temporarily drop out socially?
The phrase “nurture myself through solitude” makes as much sense to me as the phrase “that wonderful band Nickelback.”
I don’t need to call my friends to discuss my personal problems until they drive their mid-size SUVs off the road and into a river just so they don’t have to listen to me anymore. When I’m having a hard time, I like to be around people, especially friends, because they make me laugh and take my mind off of my troubles. And a lot of them drink heavily, which can be fun and simultaneously boost my self-esteem because I feel like I don’t drink that much in comparison. I know, I know. You’re different. You like to nurture yourself through solitude. (Still can’t type that without giggling.)
You want to check out for six months, regroup, then magically reappear and get invited to baby showers and housewarming parties and girls’ nights out again. Here’s some news for you: friendship and social events don’t exist for your gratification. They exist because people want to celebrate their birthdays with people they like, and go to happy hour with people who make them happy. Here are some platitudes: if you want to have a friend, be a friend! Friendship is a two-way street! You get out of friendship what you put into it! Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold! You are not the center of the universe so please realize that the world keeps on turning with or without your specialness in it! (Made that last one up, but it’s pretty good, right?) If one of my friends were to announce that they were taking a six month break from life, I would either show up at her house with a gallon of Tito’s and not leave until she felt better, or I would make fun of her overdramatic posturing behind her back.
I’m sorry you’re going through a hard time. But even if you’re introverted and devastated and things are all shitty and confusing, I think you should carry on with your regular life as much as you can. Take strength from your friends, even if you don’t discuss the specifics of your situation. There are so many lonely people out there who would love to be invited anywhere; don’t take what you have for granted.