on doing one “thing” per night

so another personal practice i’ve developed is only committing to one event/engagement per evening.

in different phases of life, i’ve found myself setting up so many social engagements with people. it was the most intense in grad school, but it’s happened in other phases, too. all too often a weeknight would look like this: after class or work, i would have drinks with a friend during happy hour; then i’d leave and meet up with a different friend for dinner; sometimes i’d even meet up with a third friend to see a movie or work on a project or something.

hanging out with that many people does keep my social network intact and growing. over time, i’ve realized that even though my network developed well, i was exhausting myself in the process. not only did i have to coordinate and be strategic about when to meet who where (because trekking all over the city takes time and energy). i also had to explain what’s happening in my life to 2-3 three people. as always, what i told to who was dependent on the person, the length of our friendship, and more. however, i started to notice that the 2nd and 3rd time i explained to someone how i was doing, i truncated the situation because i was just tired of explaining it again. of course censorship is necessary, but that type of censorship doesn’t serve to build strong relationships.

so, i found that if i just commit to one social engagement per night i’m not exhausted (physically, emotionally, or interpersonally), and i’m more better able to show up for people i do meet up with.*

since i’ve taken on this practice, people and friends of mine have started to realize that when i commit to hanging with them, it’s for real. and an (unfortunately) irony that i’ve noticed is that sometimes they can’t show up as fully as i do because they have something else to run off to.

there’s no judgment here, but i definitely prefer my situation. sure, i meet up with fewer people, but i definitely would rather have a small number of deep relationships than a large number of shallow ones. of course, it’s not an either or with relationships, but still… the number of people i know who feel like they don’t enough have close/deep relationships is astounding… (maybe i’ll write about that soon).

* to me, showing up means paying attention, listening well, sharing meaningfully at meaningful/appropriate moments, and taking in action when necessary. in our increasingly distracted world, it’s surprising how few people know how to show up for each other.