Let’s be honest, life can be exhausting. There are lots of activities to keep us busy and while we can afford to splurge time and energy at some activities or events, there are many reasons we may need an exit strategy at other events.
You may need to plan exit strategies if you:
- need to reserve time or energy for other events later that day or the next.
- tend to feel anxious at certain types of events and your standard coping tools usually aren’t enough (cleansing breaths, tapping, having ‘safe people’ to talk to, etc).
- aren’t sure how Uncle is going to handle his alcohol.
- need options for when your date may want to stay longer than you.
- don’t know very many people at the place you are visiting, including the host.
Here are just a few exit strategies to help you safeguard your sanity, time, or energy:
- let the host/hostess know ahead of time that you are thankful for the invite, are excited to attend the event, but ‘may’ need to tap out early. You don’t need to offer any other reasons.
- if you are at a large function and the host/hostess is not available to thank appropriately when you are ready to leave, consider the Irish exit. This is simply quietly slipping out of the event and then later sending the host a thank you text or card as soon as possible. This isn’t as appropriate at smaller gatherings of 15 people or less.
- make sure you attend the event with a supportive date or friend who will keep an eye on the clock for you and give you 15, 10, and 5-minute warnings.
- drive your own car to the event so you can leave earlier, should you need to. Just be very mindful of how many adult beverages you partake in. Feeling ‘stuck’ can cause extreme anxiety, especially if you don’t have other exit strategies planned.
- decide on a code word or phrase ahead of time with your date. Make it sensible. I once suggested ‘the cactus is in bloom’ when my son and I attended a gathering. We were in Arizona so it seemed appropriate but laughed so hysterically at the suggestion that we never came up with an actual code word or phrase. Fortunately, we never felt stuck so it worked out okay.
- have the uber, cabify, or lyft app on your phone with all of your payment and phone settings updated.
Remember, you are the one that gets to plan your calendar and steward your time, money, and energy. There’s no need to feel guilt for protecting your priorities and you don’t owe anyone your reasons for not attending or leaving early unless you committed to staying later, helping with the event, etc.
Do keep in mind, however, that the event host/hostess puts a lot of work and love into the events you are invited to so try to show proper appreciation and respect. Try not to be disruptive with your exit and bringing host/hostess gifts with little notes of appreciation are always a great idea!