Advice from Space: Attack of the Party People
Dear Advice from Space,
What is the best way to behave at a party when your friends are there being foolish, but also where there are smart people in front of whom you’d like not to be foolish?
Jim Jo Janet
Dear Jim Jo Janet,
This week I decided to refresh my spacecraft’s decor, as a way to feel festive and to mark the passage of time. So I undid my wire sculptures and tucked the wires back into my spacecraft’s paneling as best I could. In general, I’m more of a taker-outer than a putter-awayer—putting things away is my least favorite activity—and I may have been a little too rushed with the job. I may have instigated a near-catastrophic wiring emergency that possibly cut me off from Mission Control and from Earth in its entirety, maybe nearly lost life support, and it wouldn’t be inaccurate to imagine me paging quickly through my spacecraft manual in plummeting temperatures and dropping oxygen levels in search of the solution. But yeah, no big deal or anything, I fixed it. Lesson learned, right?
As a result, though, I felt a little depleted creatively. I decided what I needed instead was to blow off a little steam and celebrate the sizable gift of my continued existence. In short, I held a dance party.
I’m alone up here, of course, but I did invite Mission Control to join me remotely, over the monitors. I also invited my imagination, which in turn invited numerous friends and strangers to join in the fun. All that dancing and mingling and exerting myself socially was fun, let me tell you.
But it was also a lot of work, Jim Jo Janet. Parties are hard. There are so many people to be and so many faces to wear! You worry about your friends behaving foolishly in front of new people, and about new people behaving snobbishly toward your friends. But the bigger worry, I think, is that your interactions with one group will alienate you from the other.
Even if you can anticipate it with a high degree of certainty, you can’t control how people behave, or how they feel, or what they’ll like. Your party powers are not that strong. What you can do is be yourself and be kind.
If you feel like doing the frug with your friends, do the frug—but maybe tone it down if you start getting a lot of Pointed Looks. If you want to talk carbon emissions policy with the other folks, go ahead—but maybe not to the point that you ignore other friends who might be feeling frug-y.
Of course you want to be true to yourself. But your party self isn’t your true self. Neither is your alone self. Your self is in a constant state of being assembled and taken apart depending on how you behave, and what you think and feel and do.
So be kind. And also try to have some fun.
Advice from Space
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