The Best Etiquette Rule In 2022 Might Surprise You

Or: How to survive as you gather and gather and gather this season.

Sophie Lucido Johnson


It’s the season of Big Dinners. We’re right in the middle of it. There’s a good chance you’re feeling emotionally done with it all.

Historically, I have mostly hated a dinner party. I find them terrifying. It’s difficult not to take on the burden of everyone else’s happiness. But that’s only part of it; there’s also the important layer of everyone thinking that I, specifically, am charming, interesting, funny, and worthwhile to be around. I end up wanting so badly to be liked that I come off as unlikeable — seeming non-present while I’m thinking about ways to make the conversation fun, or ways to ensure that everyone has all the hummus they want at any given moment.

All illustrations by the author, unless otherwise noted.

These self-imposed rules of How To Be At A Gathering are so stressful, that I often just don’t go. Until recently, that is; when I realized that these rules are bogus. No one else really needs me to follow them! So I posted on Instagram about this (in my typical second-person), and NOT EVERYONE WAS HAVING IT. My Instagram posts are rarely controversial (I am kind of cowardly and don’t post my spiciest opinions), so I felt surprised by and interested in the backlash. In case you missed the post (and don’t want to click through Instagram), here are the slides.