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Human Burnout

May 3, 2010

I think I do well in certain social interactions. I try not to be too awkward, and I think I can make my way around in regular environments. But at the same time, it’s an act. It’s an act to appear friendly and engaged. It’s an act that I really get into, so I guess a lot of people would say I’m a weird and energetic kind of guy…and I guess that’s what I’m going for.

I think it’s also pretty clear that that isn’t really the person I am. I don’t go to parties. I don’t hang out after work. I don’t have deep connections with people, and I guess it’s as I told someone a long time ago (although the reason I said it way back when was for a different reason): “I don’t have good friends.” I sometimes feel like this is a regrettable thing. But other times, I realize that I simply do not want to invest the time it would take…

Yet, sometimes, it’s just too tiring to act all the time. And that’s when I have human burnout. I feel like I just need to get so far away from everyone and everything, because human contact is just venomous.

Soon will come the really bad poetry.

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13 Comments
  1. Parties are really uncomfortable for me, too. I usually have just a few really good friends. I don’t have time for more than that, anyway.

  2. You sound a lot like me. I’m probably an extrovert, and I can do extrovert, but at parties I’m likely to be a free roamer, not talking to anyone, which is kind of lonely.

    Lately, I’ve made some friends in real life, which is weird for me.

  3. That’s hilarious, you know, the bad poetry threats not necessarily the acting thing. Although it has its moments. I’m partial to putting on the act myself, and I suffer burn out frequently because of it. I often feel the need to disconnect from everything at varying intervals, even though I was never really (deeply) connected anyway. But hey, it’s cool.

  4. Maybe you just haven’t met anyone that intrigues you enough yet to invest the time to get to know them on more than a superficial level. I think I can relate to your situation in the sense that I can get along with almost anyone, but rarely ever truly want to interact with them socially outside of whatever brought us together in the first place (i.e. work, church, meetings, etc.) I can’t remember the last time I went to a “real” party. In the 5 years I’ve been working at my current workplace I’ve never done anything social with any of them outside of the workplace, even though I get along fine with my co-workers. We just don’t have anything in common outside of work. I avoid RS meetings like the plague, and admittedly am guilty of finding excuses to avoid being social with those who I think are nice, but I just don’t feel any sort of social chemistry with because then socializing feels like a chore. On the other hand, recently I’ve met a few people that I have clicked with immediately and not only do I find myself wanting to spend time with them, but I’m even making an effort to do so. Not because I have to, but because I genuinely enjoy spending time with them. My husband and I like to joke about how just a few months ago my “social life” was largely confined to blogging and Facebook. Now I find myself actually “entertaining” people frequently at our place. Wow. 🙂

  5. Chris Rock said it best, “When you initially meet someone, you’re not meeting them-you are meeting their representitive.”

    You should allow yourself to have a good friend. It is well worth the time it takes to foster it.

  6. Chris permalink

    I’ve struggled with the same thing. A lot of times at the end of a new social interaction, my brain will literally hurt as if I had just taken a math test. This is because I was always trying to think of witty things to say, etc, and I had to really focus on the conversation/situation. I realized I cared too much what others thought. I was afraid of rejection and/or humiliation if I wasn’t funny enough or cool enough. This ‘need’ wasn’t always there. There were some guys I would hang out with that I just didn’t care what they thought. I could be cool. I could be dumb. Didn’t matter.

    I think I would call my problem “social perfectionism.” Check out nickpagan.com/blog/15/antidote-to-perfectionism

  7. Hi Andrew, I’m the same way. I can literally feel exhausted after too much of or the wrong kind of social interaction. I do really well just one on one, or with a small group of people that I know well, but generally the larger the crowd and the less I know them the more uncomfortable I feel.

    While sometimes I’ve felt this has been a setback, I recognize it has its strengths too. For example introverts are usually good listeners, are patient, deep thinking, socially independent, …and drive nice cars, have lots of money and are extremely attractive lol.

  8. Happy Lost Sheep,

    I just wanted to say I love that list of strengths.

    I was just thinking about how all of the things in my life that make me “different” or “minority” or that make things more “difficult” tend to give me some of my greatest strengths. Maybe not so much in the ‘driving nice cars’ part, but definitely in patience, thoughtfulness, social independence, etc.,

    Chris,

    The thing for me is that I feel that it’s not a struggle at all to come up with witty things. So, it doesn’t feel like solving a tough math problem (and, since I’m TERRIBLE at math, I know how frustrating that can be). So, actually, that stuff about social perfectionism doesn’t really resonate too deeply with me.

    At the same time, the lack of the struggle simply feels like I’ve been really good at performing this role rather than anything else…

    Emily,

    I understand what you’re saying. At the same time, it’s just…ugh. It’s not so much ‘allowing’ or ‘not allowing’. That is such a foreign way at looking at it that I can’t really respond.

    FD:

    I have played around with that idea (of finding someone who intrigues you enough to motivate you to get to know them), but it seems an awful lot like finding “the one” or other romantic fables.

    Loren:

    that’s pretty much exactly it. “I feel the need to disconnect, even though I was never deeply connected.”

    Daniel:

    Well, the thing is, it doesn’t really feel “lonely” to me. Rather, it feels “alienating.” That’s the real issue, I think. When I’m “acting,” I am always reminded of, “This is how much you don’t know me. This is how much you have no clue. But I’m just being polite and not talking about all the stuff in my life because if I did, I’d just be dumping a whole lot of baggage that you never asked for.”

    I think that’s why I blog, too. Because a lot of the stuff I write about here just wouldn’t even make sense — people wouldn’t be able to understand the context — if I tried talking about it with people I associate with offline.

    So, when I’m out with others, it’s alienating. Not really lonely. But alienating.

    Chris Smith:

    I guess my problem is I have more time than ever before these days. No class; no work; no nothing. in a few weeks, summer school will start up though.

  9. Yeah that was wishful thinking, my car is a piece of clunk. But I do have an uber awesome minivan 🙂

  10. Instead of “wishful,” why not say “aspirational”?

  11. One word: psychotherapy.

  12. Tried that. They basically affirmed that some people need time alone. should reevaluate career, studies to fit personality.

  13. I often feel the same way. I’m quite introverted. I nearly always feel nervous and self-concious during any social situation and feel completely depleted afterwards. I read somewhere once that extroverts are people who receive energy from social situations and introverts people who expend energy in social situations. It’s simplistic, but it helped me to understand why I feel myself most when I’m alone.

    Within the past year I’ve made a few good friends with whom I can socialise and not feel that pressure to perform. It takes a while before I can feel comfortable with someone, and even with these friends, if new people are present, I still feel that familiar anxiety and the same type of alienating façade you describe.

    Honestly, the main thing that help in those types of situations is a few drinks – not necessarily enough to get drunk, but enough to gets me to loosen up and stop second guessing myself. I also have had success in the past with anti-anxiety medication, but since I no longer have health-care coverage, I can’t afford them any longer.

    I’ve come to the point where I’ve just accepted that I’m never going to be one of those people. I’ve never going to be the life of the party and I’m always going to feel (at least somewhat) that I’m putting on a front when I’m with other people.

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