I Stopped Going Out So Much and I Felt Much Better
How saying "no" more often and it saved my life.
Who hasn't experienced going out with friends when they actually didn't want to? Yeah, we've all been there. I'm a student, fourth year of college. And in the last four years, I've been to a lot of parties because I didn't have the courage to say "no" to people.
I often wonder why we do that. Are we scared of being seen as lazy? Of being cast as antisocial? Is peer pressure so strong that it seems almost impossible to refuse to go out with friends?
Now, some of my friends are party animals. Each of them have a course of study/job that isn't too time-consuming. On the other hand, here I am. Not only am I in a Master's Degree that requires a lot of extra hours of work, I'm a dancer (and by that I mean, I train at least 10 hours a week).
Last year, they would invite me out most nights. We would go out in bars, hang out and drink. It was fun... for a while. It became tiresome after a few weeks. It had an impact on my work, on my sleep schedule, on dance practice; like it never had before.
So what happened there? For what reasons did I feel so bad? How did I change this pattern for the better?
Going out isn't always thinking about yourself first.
I would get out of an intense three hours dance practice, rush home and get right back out.
When I think about that time, I mostly remember my reasons to go out when I didn't want to. I felt like I owed my friends time. And sure, I wasn't about to snob them and never socialize, but I feel like I succumbed to the peer pressure I was referring to earlier.
My friends would say things along the lines of "We don't see you as much as the others! You're always at dance practice. Come, it'll get your mind off work," to which I often replied "Why not, I work a lot. I choose to do something for myself."
What I didn't notice was that I wasn't doing myself a favour. I wasn't listening to myself, as I usually don't notice how tired I am until I crash into bed. So I would get out of an intense three hours dance practice, rush home and get right back out. Sometimes eating on the way, because it was 11 PM and I didn't want to keep my friends waiting. The worst thing was when I'd finally realise I was exhausted whereas all people around me were hyper and tipsy.
It was the opposite of what going out is supposed to be.
Less going out is healthier
One particular month, I decided to completely focus on my internship and self-care when I wasn't at work. It was almost the end of school year and I felt like I was at the end of a marathon, at that point where you're about ready to give up and drop dead.
Honestly, it saved my life. Not that I was going to die or anything, but I definitely wouldn't be at the level of productivity I am today without that breakthrough moment.
I started taking care of myself. Like really taking care of myself, not the "I got to look presentable before I go outside" kind. I started taking my time instead of rushing into everything. I meal-prepped before going to work or dance practice (so that future, tired me would give a pat on the back of past-me). I took better care of my skin and hair. I appreciated the comfort of my bed after a 15 hour-day.
It naturally started to show. I was energised and productive, peaceful instead of rushed and tired. The irony was that I was the only one responsible for tiring myself out.
Boundaries are about love and respect for yourself
It takes a lot of courage to confront your feelings and realise where you were abusing yourself.
It also takes a lot of courage to announce to your friends that "Sorry, my health and my art come first. I hope you understand, I love you and I'm not a snob I promise."
But I think it is for the best. Looking at where I am today, happy and thriving, I know it benefits me as much as it benefits them to hang out with alert, non droopy-eyed Yoreen.
Hanging out feels so much more special
The best part is, when I do go out, I enjoy them so much more. Everything, from our basic interactions to the general vibe feel precious and unique. As if, by being the healthiest version of ourselves, we were able to go deeper with our bond and relationship to each other.
So, learn to say "no," and love yourself, pay attention. It always pays out.
Hi, I'm Yoreen! Aspiring professional dancer and art director. Follow my adventures on Instagram: @yoreen_mrc