Folks, I’ve got stories. This will be the first of many.
Last week, I traveled to Austin for work to attend and help with a mega-summit. It felt like hundreds of people, and many of them were those I’d finally be meeting in person vs. virtually for the first time ever.
I heard that even for regular folks that this was overwhelming.
What about in The Life Autistic? Well, I survived, didn’t melt down, and I kinda enjoyed it.
But had it not been for these five things, I’d have been an utter wreck.
1) Plan your presence
As soon as I knew the group would all be staying at one hotel, I booked mine at the opposite end of town, got my own car, and got a flight in a day earlier than everyone.
Why? While I put out the impression that I was pulling a ‘diva’ card, I needed to ensure I could limit my “passing by” time. To where I know I wouldn’t have an extra conversation in the hotel or nearby, or that I knew I could detox to music in my own rental to and fro.
By planning my where, I gave myself ample time to unwind, recover, and recharge.
2) Have something important to do
I’m going to thank my boss and my Senior Director for this one!
While I left enough work on my plate to keep me busy, I was blessed with an urgent request that took me almost a day and a half to turn around.
“Oh hey, H2, you sure look busy.”
“Yeah, sorry, I got this urgent item from [so-and-so].”
It made for the best reason to focus and be selectively social.
3) Opt in, not out
I was one of the first five people in the building for one reason: to find a corner seat.
That way, I could gauge the lay of the land, retreat as needed, and park while I reset before going out and socializing. Opt in, not out.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m “almost charming,” so I was happy to make some connections and chit chat.
I was open about telling folks, “I’ve got about five minutes of mingling before I peter out.”
4) Spend, but don’t overdraft
Sure, it would have been fun to attend one of the big karaoke nights they all planned.
But I know my limits. Fun is fun, but not when I’m done.
After a busy day, and after stretching my limits with an entertaining dinner, I knew I wouldn’t be up for any activities after dark.
You can spend your energy just fine in The Life Autistic, but overdrafting is perilous.
I have another post on this, but don’t be afraid to escape.
Don’t try toughing it out if you can’t. It’s not worth it. Awkward situations worsen. Find your exits. Eject yourself before you wreck yourself.