Whether our family life is gloriously ideal or quietly chaotic, we all need to carve out a space of our own. Family gatherings—not to mention families in general—can be energetic and emotional, often prompting us to sacrifice the sense of self we usually fiercely protect for the greater good. While enthusiastic participation and personal downtime might seem at odds, interweaving the two can create a much more effective way of engaging with our loved ones. Even the most altruistic of humans can become flat-out exhausted by the social nature of family life. During childhood we’re taught to be independent individuals, yet adult family time often stirs an oddly paradoxical expectation to share everything. “Even prison gives you some personal space, so why not family?” a friend once quipped. We probably never spent this much time together when we lived under the same roof—and loyalty should not require us to quell our independence and spend This story is from Kinfolk Issue Seventeen Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 47 Julia Bainbridge On the life-enhancing potential of not drinking alcohol. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Signal Boost How status anxiety drives culture. Arts & Culture Issue 39 Shelf Life The rise and rise of design objects. Arts & Culture Issue 38 Memes of Communication A conversation about digital folklore. Arts & Culture Issue 36 Designated Drudgery How to take a load off. Arts & Culture Issue 30 Knowing Me, Knowing You Think twice before seeking out your doppelgänger.