What Just Happened?
You’ve just arrived at the party of the year and you’re psyched. Looking around, you realize that your friends haven’t gotten there yet. This is the night you’re finally going to talk to your crush and you need their encouragement. Everyone else looks like they’re having a great time so you head to the kitchen. Maybe there’s some liquid courage around. Red cups are stacked on the counter and what looks like a new trashcan filled with red punch sits in front of the sink. You dip your cup in and take a sip. It’s definitely spiked so you fill your cup and try to blend in while you wait for your friends to join you. Twenty minutes later you’ve had three or four cups and your friends aren’t there yet. As the room sways, you feel dinner and the punch start to come back up. Grabbing the closest thing…the trashcan, you puke red everywhere. To make matters worse, you see the flash of someone’s camera phone go off out of the corner of your eye.
What just happened? You thought this was going to be the party of the year and now everyone is mad at you! The brain could have had something to do with things going wrong. When we get excited about an upcoming event like a party, a date, a text, a game, or even eating a pizza, we get a surge of dopamine. This feel-good neurotransmitter is responsible for keeping us wanting more but not being satisfied! We get a good feeling as we anticipate the event, but unfortunately our expectations often fall short of reality. It’s like ordering a cherry pie for dessert at the diner and then finding out that it’s nothing like the one Grandma makes.
Our desire to be accepted, wanted, loved, cool, free, and have fun can sometimes kidnap the reasoning part of our brain. Adding that extra boost from dopamine to the mix can create the perfect storm. Before we do something we may regret, it’s a good idea to think things through to the end because in the end we have to live with our choices.