I’ll admit it: I enjoy being the guy who’s there when the party wraps up, being the last person at the office who locks up and turns off all the lights, or the last person who goes to bed once everyone else has fallen asleep. It’s that window of time of lingering, of simply being, where something unique is in the air.
It’s a peaceful moment that can last just a few seconds or several hours. At a party or any large gathering, there comes a point at the event where being around so many people becomes mentally and emotionally draining. I may be having a great time, but so much (usually surface level) social interaction wears me out. But if I can make it through to the end, when most people filter out of the room and I’m left with a smaller pool of folks to interact with, I find a new energy to draw from. The group gets smaller, the necessity of “working the crowd” and typical empty chatter falls away and you’re left with the after party.
The “after party” is that time where you can stop being the entertainer. You’re no longer making sure you said “Hi!” to everyone. The primary purpose of said event is done. Your responsibilities are completed and you fall back into a place of just being yourself. You take that time to soak in the day, to revel in the presence of the friends around you that are just chilling out in that snippet of time. People are more willing to open up and talk without rushing, to go deeper into a conversation, and be there with you. I love these spaces because they can come and go so quickly, but are ever so rewarding. There’s a lightness to the air, an unexpected joy and appreciation for life that lingers, that’s impossible to create by choice.
Next time we’re at a party or some sort of large gathering together, don’t be surprised if you notice me really starting to break out of my party shell as the event progresses and the crowds thin out. It’s in that after party time I find I can truly connect with others and enjoy the atmosphere and appreciate the relationships with people who are there.