Thank You, Girl Scouts?

August, 2022


An Introvert’s Perspective on “Be Prepared”


“Yeah, the plans for that day will be expensive for me,” she said.


I looked at her, astonished, because I didn’t understand what was going to cost so much money. Thankfully, she clued me in with her explanation.


“If I am busy all day, away from home, and in contact with several people . . . even if we’re doing something fun . . . I’ll pay a price.”


She went on to elaborate what that non-monetary price would be: fatigue, overwhelm, crankiness, a burning desire to be alone, diminished patience, fog-brain, and more.


“Ah,” I exclaimed, “so you’re talking about a social hangover! Got it. Yes, I see how expensive that can be.”


This gal not only helped me understand her much better, but she also led me to a better understanding of myself. “Expensive” became my new, favorite word.


What about you? Do you find yourself shying away from making too many plans? Are you prone to a “less is more” preference? Do you get flak from loved ones, friends, or colleagues if your need for people-time is less than theirs?


It happens. :-(


Decades since I learned this nuanced definition of “expensive,” I’ve embraced the Girl Scout motto first introduced to me in grade school: Be Prepared.


I groaned at the original intent behind the motto when I Googled for more information. According to the 1947 Girl Scout Handbook, "A Girl Scout is ready to help out wherever she is needed. Willingness to serve is not enough; you must know how to do the job well, even in an emergency."


I always thought Be Prepared translated to “have all your ducks in a row,” or “have a well thought out plan.” As a joy-enhancer for those prone to social hangovers, I’m inclined to stick with my interpretation of Be Prepared!


So, how do we prepare? Three words come to mind: anticipate, adjust, and strategize.


If you know too much social stuff will put you over the top, it’ll serve you to anticipate outcomes. Let’s say there’s a big family event taking place on a weekend. If it’s both days of that weekend, and attendance is required, can you take Monday off from work, to recover? Are there little pockets of down-time within that weekend when you can be removed from the hubbub? With realistic anticipation, you may get better and better at foreseeing what will be problematic for you. Once seen, you can plan accordingly.


Predicting outcomes can be informed by previous experience. What have you observed or learned from situations in the past about what (or who) wipes you out? What time of day are you not at your best? When do you typically crash? By paying attention to these things, you may be able to predict how upcoming situations will challenge you. And if you can predict, you may be able to craft some antidotes. If you want to take adequate care of yourself, you’ll adjust your plans accordingly.


I know someone whose self-care guideline is only one social event in a day. Previous experience has taught her that if there are two or more things on her calendar, no matter what day, she will suffer. You may not be able to avoid that which depletes you; some things just can’t be avoided. Still, you can identify self-care guidelines that could prevent or diminish future hangovers.


It’s important to be strategic. I’m a big fan of bookending. When anticipating a situation that will be strenuous, ask yourself what you can do to put “padding” around it. Prior to a gathering for dinner, I may carve out time to meditate or do some gentle yoga. After the gathering, perhaps a walk, tuning out with a half-hour of mindless tv, or a steaming hot bath.


For more on this topic, I recommend this TED talk by Susan Cain, who is the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.


I’d love to know what you do, extraverts or introverts, to keep your battery charged and prevent those expensive social hangovers. Please feel free to share in the comments, below!



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