Right now we're heading into grad party season and all kinds of summer parties. The thing about parties is that I have a mixed relationship with them. There are some parties that I have an incredible time at and feel great after attending, but others that I feel miserable at and lonely. Recently I've been a bit more conscious of whether or not I will enjoy a party.  I evaluate everything from who is going to what activity to what my plan is to ensure that I'll have a good time, whether that might mean attending the party or staying home to have a party for one. (p.s. not into reading? skip to the end for a fun semi-interactive infographic!)

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The first step to deciding whether or not to attend a party is understanding the social balance. 

The thing about parties is that sometimes it is tempting to go, just for the sake of going. In movies, parties are depicted as big and crazy, where anything can happen. Although that can be true in some cases, not every party is like those parties in the average stereotype movies. The movies paint parties as the kind of thing that if you don't go, you're missing out on. It's the fear of missing out and the need to have a more active social life working interchangeably. You're worried that staying home and watching Netflix will make you miss out on opportunities for growing your social circle. I'm not going to lie, this can be true in some cases. If you skip social activities too often, then you will essentially end up lonely. It's all about balance. It can be potentially tolling on your self-development and independence to attend every social function, but on the other side of the spectrum, it can toll on your community and relationships by not attending any social function. In order to foster your own happiness, you need to develop a nice social balance between you and your peers before moving forward. It is so important to build up great relationships with friends at parties and such, but it is equally important to make time for yourself.

The next step is asking yourself, do I actually want to attend the party or am I just attending for the sake of attending? 

"The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and have a good time" -C.Z. Guest
Whether your attend the party or you end up staying home, you need to make sure that you pick the best choice for your happiness. Yes, you can enjoy yourself at a party, but you can also enjoy yourself by skipping it and staying home. A truth that we sometimes forget is that there will be other parties.

You're not missing out by staying home, there will be other parties. 

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If you decide that you don't want to attend the party, so what? There will be a next time. It's not the end of the world if you don't go. This is the step where you have to differentiate your feelings from the art of pretending to have a life (Don't know what it is? Here's the post on it!) Quoting my past self, "just because you're invited, doesn't mean that you're obliged to attend." Are you just trying to fill up your social calendar? Or are you yearning for nice post-party Instagram picture to post like all the other party-goers who found it necessary to document their presence?  

Will there be food?

"A party without cake is just a meeting" - Julia Child
I'm sorry, I just had to throw this in. I feel like everyone that I know is obsessed with food. Say that there's free food and people immediately come running. I don't know about you, but I feel like food is a vital part of the party experience. Of course, there are those fancy parties with high class food that make you feel like you actually know what you're doing in life and there are also those casual parties full of cheat-day food. No matter what is happening at the party, there better be food. 

Who will be at the party?

Although I like to think that the party itself is what makes a good party, but the truth is that the company is what makes a good party. If the only people at the party are people that you generally don't talk to, chances are that you will not have a good time. Pull together some of your favorite people and you've got a great party. Will there just be a small group of people? If so, it is even more important that these people are people that you enjoy spending time with. If it's a large party, you can group up with some friends and not have a care in the world about the other party guests. It's important to consider the company, considering that these are the people that you will be spending your night with. If you're looking to meet new people, then I say that it's worth going to if like-minded people will be at the party, as long as you think that you will be able to connect with someone or a small group of people.

What is happening at the party?

Is it the kind of party where anything can happen and nothing is truly planned? Or it is a meticulously planned party, everything from the activities to the seating plan to the meal? While it's true that the company can make for a good party, it's still nice to have some activities that you can do to fill the silence and/or get the conversation going. This is especially vital if you're going to a mixer of sorts where you don't really know the people there because you'll need a common ground to discuss. Having an activity to pass the time doesn't only make the party a bit more fun, but it's also a great conversation starter and helps to break the ice. Chat about the activity and then go from there. If it's a group of friends, the scenario is a little different, it's a bit less vital to have well-planned activities. However, I still believe that you should consider the activities that will be there, because even if you're surrounded by your closest friends, that won't necessarily make you love something that you hate. Even if I was with my best friends, I probably wouldn't play basketball or something, since it's not the kind of thing that I would enjoy. Are these activities that you would enjoy?

A party is meant to be enjoyed. 

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To sum up this whole thing, I've created a formula of sorts, a road map for deciding whether or not to go to the party! Obviously, this is not any sort of insurance that if you follow this, then you'll definitely have a good time at a party, it's more of something to guide your thought process. 

Print this road map out, refer to it pre-party, do whatever with it to help your decisions! I for one am the worst at coming to a solid decision because I always doubt my choice, so hopefully this will help guide your thinking process for figuring out if this party is worth going to. The whole point of this is so that you can enjoy yourself. I know, this is a little more analytical than most people are about deciding whether or not to attend parties, but it's no secret that I'm a strong believer in self-love and self-care. If that means that you have a party for one instead of going to a social party, then so be it, a party is meant to be enjoyed and there are more ways than one to enjoy it.

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