"Chances are, I’m not going to like you as a human being … "

Chances are, I’m not going to like you as a human being. Not like, your specific existence, necessarily — because I do well with one-on-one interaction. It’s when people get into groups that the natural habits of crowds drive me a little batshit. I can only handle it so long before I start to get physically sick.

I used to chalk it up to social anxiety. Most of the time, I just drank myself stupid to cope with adverse feelings, but now that I have kids and a good job, I can’t really go down that self-destructive path as much as I once could. Besides, I’m older, hangovers stop playing around after 30. It’s impossible for me to drink heavily and pretend I'm a viable citizen the next day at the same time. So I’ve been trying to figure out what's going on instead of ignoring it altogether.

What I might be suffering from is a social hangover.

Currently, there isn’t any concrete evidence or peer reviewed papers to support the notion this condition even exists. There are a handful of think pieces online about it, but the Internet is full of articles explaining Jay Z’s ties to the Illuminati too, so we can't reasonably say it's a 'thing' right now. However, there are similarities in what some describe with my own experiences.

By whatever definition of introvert we use, a common theme in all of them is that those people enjoy being alone with their thoughts; whereas extroverts get antsy if they have to sit around too long. It’s easy to become too stimulated as an introvert, especially in group situations like going out or throwing parties. It’s not that we don’t want to leave the house, it’s just that we can’t handle stacked hours of entertainment without digesting some of it into new brain synapses.

Sometimes it gets to be too much, and most of us feel the effects of it, be it physical exhaustion or emotional distress. We wig out, to be more precise.

And just like after a night of cheap college beer and cinnamon whiskey shots, the next day can be just as grueling. There's nothing more appealing the day after a big social event than just sitting down on the couch and watching endless loops of whatever is on Netflix. It's a literal hangover, that has no real cure besides time and solitude.

If you're in the same boat as I am, trying to find a way to appease the want to be social with the need to shut yourself off from the planet once in a while, think of your social life like a bottle of booze. It tastes delicious, it feels fun and gets under you hard sometimes without even knowing it. Finish the whole thing and you'll be in for a world of hurt the next day; pace yourself and save some for next weekend and you'll be thankful — and likely be able to spend more time doing things you love instead of curled up on the couch like a gestating fetus. 

Moderation: It's the hack to making everything suck a lot less.

[originally published September 9, 2016]