Today is the St. John’s Regatta – a long running event that not only features a set of rowing races but also a variety booths with food vendors , games of chance, and other fun things.
I used to go every year with my family when I was young but now I haven’t been there in over 20 years, maybe longer. And I have no desire to be around that many people.
I enjoyed being with a large group when I was younger and I never gave much thought to crowds but now the thought of spending time in a crowd exhausts me.
For a long time, I thought I had just gotten out of the habit or that I had kind of borrowed my husband’s aversion to crowds and I kind of chastised myself for taking that on unnecessarily.
But now, I don’t think that’s what happened.
When I was young, I had someone else to do the navigating for me – to get me there, to make a plan, to choose how long we were spending at an event.
And I was less consciously aware of my own feelings, energy, and discomfort. I would put aside my feelings for the good of the people I was with.
I *can* still put my feelings aside now when necessary but back then I did it automatically. And I would sometimes get overwhelmed and say or do something that was embarrassing or that I regretted later. Or I would burn myself out and have no energy for days after an event with a big crowd.
So, I think that when I was younger, having someone else manage a lot of the details was a buffer for me that made crowds easier.
And the fact that I wasn’t paying attention to my feelings, comfort, and energy meant that I didn’t notice the things I notice now about being in a crowd.
I can still be around crowds when the event is structured (like a concert) or when I have a specific role (I’m the host or I have a job that needs to get done and I can prioritize that) or if my desire to be at the event is stronger than my desire to avoid a crowd (i.e. someone’s wedding) but mostly I avoid crowds and save my energy for things that I enjoy more.
And I’m ok with that.