Just the other day I was invited to the beach with my closest friend and a couple of mutual acquaintances. The general schema of the group was this: my best friend, one of her closest friends and a couple of friends and acquaintances. My initial reaction to the invitation was very strongly DNW. Why? Because I’m very much a sit-at-home-and-read-a-book type of person. That’s just how I enjoy my summer. Plus, I’m not very keen on hanging out with a bunch of people I barely know (two of whom I could have sworn didn’t like me). But I know my best friend, and actual physical contact is important to her so despite my misgivings I went along with it.
I didn’t have low expectations for the day, so much as realistic expectations. My best friend likes to call herself a realist, not a pessimist and I’m much the same. I knew that the odds were against me having much fun. I can’t swim, for one, so how much fun is the beach going to be when they all swim off and leave me in the shallows? And since I was still (am still) still stuck in the lovestrck phase of my relationship, I was fairly certain I woudn’t have fun without the boyfriend anyway.
My strategy was to plan for what would realistically happen. She said they’d be ready at about one. I prepared myself for at least an hour’s wait. They’re going to the beach; I prepare myself for the high possibility that they would swim off and leave me in the shallows. On and on I went, mentally planning ahead for the worst case scenario. I’d need money, I’d need something to keep me occupied while they went off, I’d need to mentally gear up for the awkwardness. (This is just one example of how much I overthink things).
I knew what I was getting into; I wasn’t psyching myself out. I wasn’t planning to have an awful time, I just knew what I was going to do to prevent that. Planning for worst case scenarios saves me a lot of anxiety in the long run. I’m like a logic gate that way: IF “abc”, THEN “xyz”. And it’s a strategy that works for me.
The end result? I had a great time. Sure, I had to wait for them a bit, but I’d prepared for that so I read a novel until they showed up. Sure it was weird at first, but I’d expected that so it didn’t faze me and I even ended up chatting to the guys I thought didn’t like me. Sure, they swam off to the trampoline and left me in the shallows, but you know what? I pulled out a novel and had a nice relaxing read right there on the shore. I didn’t feel left out once.
We played volleyball, sumo-wrestled, took tons of pictures, and I only missed the boyfriend a teensy bit. I count that as a Good Day.