So, I’ve been really busy the past week, with so much going on. But last night was crazy, because of the annual Snow Ball (see what they did there, to keep things nice and secular). We all dressed up and even went into town to get our makeup done by the lovely ladies in Boots on the makeup stands. Then after some sort of pre-drinks party thingy, we all set off.
So, don’t get me wrong, I do love having a great time with my close friends. But parties are just a big struggle for me. This is when I really suffer with sensory overload, and also struggle with social etiquette. I know lots of people with AS struggle with this too, so I thought I would spend a bit of time quickly writing a post about party survival this festive season (and the rest of the year).
1) Pack your bag properly.
I have the usual things in the handbag I take to a social event, like my wallet, lipstick, mirror, phone, ID, keys to my room. But I also pack according to what kind of party I’m going to. So, for example, if I’m going to the Student Union where I know it’s going to be very loud, I pack my earplugs to help muffle the sound levels slightly. If lights are an issue (being too bright) I’ll pack some sunglasses.
2) Have signals/code words
I tend to feel awkward the most when someone I hardly know comes up to me, and starts getting all in my space and touchy feely. I also feel uncomfortable if I’ve had a bit much to drink, or if the music is too loud even with earplugs in, or I’m just feeling overwhelmed. So me and my two best friends have come up with clear hand gestures and phrases that I can say to them in a party situation to let them know I need a time out. They use them too with everyone now in our circle of friends, so it’s really useful, as I can just tap my elbow and have them come up with a socially acceptable excuse to usher me out into the fresh air.
3) Try to keep towards the edges
It’s best to stay out of the crowd, especially if you dislike being in one (that’s common sense, really). But being at the edges helps if you do need to make a quick getaway, as I’ve tried to escape from a big crowd before, and it isn’t pleasant.
4) Stand Up for Yourself!
Don’t let someone persuade you into doing something that isn’t comfortable. For example, I had a friend who dragged me into the crowds, and onto the stage which was full of loud drunk people, and made me dance whilst a guy grabbed my hands and kept spinning me. I didn’t want to say ‘no’ because I didn’t want to look like a party pooper, even though I was cowering in pain next to the speakers, but I do regret standing up for myself. It’s not fun having to say ‘no, I’m sorry, but that makes me feel uncomfortable’, but it is better than being in agony. Or, if they properly grab you, try and lose them in the crowd, and slink back to friends who will look out for you.
5) Don’t Push yourself
If you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough. Just make sure you have a friend to walk with you, it’s never fun trying to get home whilst overloaded on your own.
I hope that helps a little bit. I know it might not always be the best advice, but these are just a few things I’ve learned on the way.