Feeling Awkward About Fill-in-the-Blank Social Obligation? Time to Get a Party Coach

We also try to set expectations: if you’re trying to grow, then about a third of the time, you should feel great; a third of the time, it will be mediocre; and a third of the time, it should be uncomfortable. Simply resetting these expectations—we sometimes call it the “rule of thirds”—can free clients to take risks and be honest with themselves so that fun happens more naturally.

How do you approach seminars or group tutorials? What are they like?

With groups, my core work right now is facilitating “mindset challenges”—three-to-five-week programs designed to break down clients’ preconceptions about what fun really feels like. I’ll give them daily journal prompts to answer, along with real-life “missions” that get them out of their comfort zones, and then we come together on group calls twice a week to debrief about how it affects their mood.

Many events focus on redefining what the word “party” actually means. What if it simply means “take part in?”  For clients who are exploring a social life beyond substances, I’ve hosted “anti-anxiety pre-games,” where we rip shots of ginger or hot sauce. This gets cringe, but it fundamentally changes how we view FOMO. What are we really missing out on? What happens when we start to party differently?

Where do you suppose you draw the line between coaching and the kind of work that licensed therapists and counselors do?

I make it very clear that The Party Coach is not here to help anyone get or stay sober. I’m also not equipped to help you heal anxiety or process trauma—please, please, do that work with professionals first. But when people need to expand what’s possible when it comes to fun, partying, and social life and want to do so alongside other humans doing this work simultaneously, then they come to me.

From a personal standpoint, though, these boundaries have been one of the most difficult parts of my work. There’s been plenty of vagueness around how and when I’m a “party coach.” I’ve made some mistakes and annoyed so many of my friends along the way.

What are The Party Coach’s attitudes toward technology?

A main principle I follow is respecting digital spaces and communities while prioritizing live events and face-to-face interactions. Many of us are struggling with boundaries around these things, and during the first week of our group program, I put clients through a “dopamine detox” where we all take twenty-four or forty-eight hours away from social media—which, like mind-altering substances, are profoundly connected to how our brains manage gratification, consumption, cravings, and rewards. I’ve also had clients try “no phone Fridays” with their friends and report how it felt; they typically come back with epic memories.

Having said all that, I do depend on tech to deliver my message, and I literally do ninety percent of coaching virtually. I’ve heard plenty of boomers say, “Just put down your phone!” and thought, “Ah, if only it were that simple.” Obviously, it’s hard to be fully present in a given space if we’re partying with phones in our hands, which is why more and more nightclubs, for example, are putting stickers over people’s cameras, which I fully support. But I don’t think the cure is to go back to 1995. Instead, I try to ask: What does a fun future feel like? What’s actually realistic? We’re all still figuring that out together.

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