How to party after a hard day

Oftentimes social events happen when we are tired. Almost any lab or group of coworkers has a social hour on Friday, after a whole week of work. Obviously, we are not in our top shape and not very witty at that hour. So the best we can do is just relax and go with the flow, enjoying the simple moments with people around us. But what if your social life is not in a good shape either? What if you’d really like to actively change someting during a trip to a bar with your colleagues on Friday night, meet new people, make a good impression, get invited to an event you want? Then you need to be able to do these things while being low on energy, tired, worn out. But what exactly changes in the way our mind works when we are tired? It turns out we are slower, not that witty anymore, and have trouble noticing opportunities that are right in front of us.

Let me give you an example. This Wednesday was a very long day for me. I spend the daytime discussing my work, then in the evening there was 3 hour long seminar, and finally a hip-hop class. After class, one of our dancers changed and went to DJ a party, while complaining a lot about how he’s gonna black out any moment, and not feeling like doing it at all. That was exactly how I was feeling too. I went to that party though. For the first half an hour I wandered around the graffity painted halls of Page, or stood still on the dance floor hesitating what to do next and trying to process what’s happening. I didn’t really talk to anyone, but each half an hour a thought appeared in my brain – something that I suddenly wanted to say to somebody. Here are those brilliant witty lines:

“Your faces look so funny in that purple light” .. 30min passes.. “How are you doing?”.. 30min passes.. “You are very good at it”.. 30min passes.. “You don’t mind me here, do you?”

You get the idea – you can’t rely on your brain to fill in blanks in the conversation when you’re tired. What I didn’t think of doing at that moment, even though it would’ve been a good idea, was:

  1. I had my smartphone with me, and the wi-fi was on. I could’ve friended somebody on fb.
  2. While wandering around the dorm, I saw a lot of people not joining the party but playing boardgames in their rooms instead. I could’ve asked them if the party disturbs their sleep cycle, just out of curiosity.
  3. I’d probably been better off if for one of those 30min pauses I’d just went playing pool or Super Mario, which was nearby.
  4. Now the theme of the party, which I wasn’t able to decipher until later, was about UV lights. Many items of clothing have a property of glowing in that light, but not my clothing. There were also glowing sticks, but for some reason it did not occur to me that I should take one.

In general, it seems I did everything not to attract much attention, so when yet another grinding human centipede bumped into me with one of its butts, I could only act embarrassed and get out of the way. Same when another grinding human centipede fell apart into three girls who started dancing in front of me, I first had the impulse to hide, get out of the circle. But I stayed dancing, which wasn’t any particularly impressive dancing, but strangely it kept my mood up. I’m glad that I went that night, and now I’m inspired to work on my clothes choices, so that I maybe stand out a little bit, get used to attention, get used to knowing people who dance with me and interact with them! For that, I’ll need to practice in front of the mirror, so that my facial expression and dance moves show clean and strong emotions and look confident. This is my piece of advice on partying tired.

An extra piece of evidence

After playing with humanities in the previous posts, it is due to mention some of the actual work done about student life and grad school. There are extensive surveys done under the name of NCHA that cover almost every aspect of student life. They present US averages, but to my surprise the local Student Health office of my school also had data specific to that school. It is not allowed to copy the data because of privacy issues, but anyone with the data-analyst mindset can ask to work with the data on the Health office computer.

Here’s maybe a better report of alternative survey. The scientists have a well-developed paradigm of comparing perceived and actual reported aspects of life. The most striking probably would be marijuana use: 30% reported actually using it, while the perceived use is 85%! People think that virtually everybody smokes pot. In the same way, the perceived values of sex are way off (see the header), which is probably a source of all sorts of self-worth issues.

The questions about feeling isolated from the society, having low social skills and perceived vs. actual sex appeal are only indirectly present in the survey. It would be hard to come up with questions for that! I’ll see if my Student health office can contact NCHA and ask to have those questions included, but meanwhile I’ll just dive in the data and see how average graduate student life compares to my life and to, say, a college student life.. A relevant joke: “Average person has sex 70 times a year. It’s Dec 24th and it seems I’m going to have an interesting week.”

More on sororities

I was not informed about fraternities and sororities, before I watched Monsters University. In that movie, stakes were high for the main character, so I didn’t question his desire to join the lettered community. Nor did I question the whole system of elite societies within the student body. Now I started reading about them on the web, and found a strange inconsistency between wiki and blogosphere. Basically, wiki says that membership reduces the academic performance, whereas the posts by sorority members claim increase in GPA:

^^^here

The most impressive propaganda in the posts is that almost all politicians and CEO’s come from greek organizations. Indeed, in every motto they promise to make you a leader. If I have a kid, I would hardly worry about vanishing chance of him becoming a politician, unless my kid is an outstandingly bad person. My bigger worries would be if he will have disturbed sleep by parties around the house every friday night, and grow up into a neurotic.

Yesterday I was present on a charity walk against cancer that involved all the student organizations. Most had a little tent, some did fundraising, some just chilling. This is where they practice their leadership skills, I was told. The effect on the outside world is negligible, but the students get confidence that they can set things moving. They also want to be a role model, which is easy if you have so many lines about extracurricular activities in your CV. Circle K that I joined, however, was not in greek, open to everyone, and with events that do have an immediate effect on the outside world. Basically the local communities employ this organization’s volunteers, work-for-food workforce. I find the existence of always available volunteer worker pool here quite shocking, given the basics of economics supply/demand curves, wall between us and mexico etc.

So do elite greek organizations make themselves available as volunteers in that workforce pool? I somehow doubt that, they’re elite after all. I really look forward to be disproven, but my first impression is that the greek culture subtly encourages you to abandon any hope of becoming a professional, and work your way up using connections instead. That aside, I kind of like how one of the triplets had taken ‘greek’ literally and is living up to the tradition of having a perfect body (ancient athletes) and clear mind (ancient philosophers). I think there should be more of this.