My social battery

Sergey Faldin 🇺🇦
8 min readJul 15, 2022

One thing you should probably know about me is that I am an introvert. I know some people say there’s no such thing as introverts (“It’s all in your head!”) — but who cares what those people say. Introvert or not, I get tired after spending considerable time among people.

These people don’t necessarily have to be strangers: a good conversation with my wife, my friends, and my parents (oh, they’re the worst!) — will make me seek solitude, ideally in a horizontal position with a good book, feeling as if I’ve just completed a 10-mile jog.

What is a considerable amount, you might ask?

Well, it depends on the person. If a person is too active — meaning, they talk more than I do — my social battery time shrinks. If the person speaks less than I do, I just have to wait until I am tired of myself.

Either way, my battery seldom lasts more than an hour and a half. And if more than two people are involved in the conversation, the amount of time I can tolerate a conversation decreases in geometric progression.

But the worst of all is public speaking.

I remember going on stage in Moscow in late February and giving a forty-five-minute lecture in front of hundreds of people on how to apply to U.S. colleges. The audience mainly consisted of recent high-school graduates and kids of wealthy parents. After all, Russians can’t apply for American student debt. So the only people who go study in the U.S. are ‘golden youth’ (zolotaya molodezh) — a typical Russian phrase whose closest English equivalent would be ‘trust-fund babies’.

I talked about writing motivational letters, the importance of applying early, and shared my story (obviously omitting the fact that I dropped out after seven months). Forty-five minutes went in a blink, the way it always does when you’re nervous and trying to hide it by making futile jokes and using too many swear words for anybody’s liking. Ultimately, I was glad to walk off stage under a round of applause. Not that I heard it, of course. I was too desperate to escape.

But it turned out the lecture was far from over. Before I could turn and head for the door, a line of people gathered to ask for advice.

“What should I include in my personal statement?”

“What are the best states to apply to?”

“Your story is so inspiring. Can I talk a selfie?

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Sergey Faldin 🇺🇦

Honest thoughts. Unpopular opinions. Not necessarily true or smart. | The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Meduza | muckrack.com/sfaldin | Subscribe: sergeys.substack.com