12 Most Stress-Proof Ways for an Introvert to Survive a Party
Recently my husband and I went to a party. It was a genuine grown-up gathering, with lots of well-dressed adults mingling, drinking, smiling, chatting, eating awkward appetizers on paper plates. I had been looking forward to it for a while — a night out with my man, an opportunity to wear nice clothes, a break from being “Mommy” for a short while.
It had been quite some time since our last real “soiree,” so I had forgotten the challenges inherent in such events for my introverted self. It truly was a fun time for say the first hour, but then a certain panic started to set in. Who to talk to? What to say? Everyone is clumping into groups and I’m standing here alone with my plate of tapas and I can’t hear a thing over the hub bub… what to do?! Well, it got better as my survival instincts kicked into gear.
And I realized that perhaps there are others that experience such challenges at social gatherings. With a spirit of generosity toward my fellow introverts, I share my 12 party survival tactics…
1. Prepare your brain
I’m a planner. I do not wing it. Talking points, news bites, jokes, who you know will be there, who you don’t know — this is all important intelligence for the well-prepared introverted party-goer.
2. Dress well
Wear pretty shoes, put on a little extra make-up (or if a guy, ditch the sweats). As shallow as it may sound, if you look fantastic on the outside, you may be less inclined to stay internally focused.
3. Bring a host/hostess gift
Start off the event feeling generous.
4. Make yourself useful
Introverts must have a job to do. Find out what the hostess needs. Carry food to tables. Pick up trash. Whatever you need to do to be useful. Being useful is so much better than standing around feeling completely geeked out.
5. Reach out to someone more uncomfortable than yourself
You might not believe it, but there is always someone else feeling even more at a loss than you. By making it your mission to find that one person, you are being useful (see last point) and generous to boot. Who knows, you may even make a new friend.
6. Have a drink
But just one. It helps to loosen up a bit, but not too much…
7. Ask really good questions
This is part of the planning (see first point). Have a few questions ready to ask anyone and let others carry the conversation. They’ll think you’re the life of the party if you make them feel interesting.
8. Go to the bathroom
If you need a break from the crowd, pop into the bat cave for a few minutes to refuel, freshen up, and well, yes, if you must, pee.
9. Get some fresh air
The back yard is not just for smokers. It’s amazing who you will find outside and the conversations (or shared comfortable silence) you may enjoy out under the wide open sky.
10. Play games
Often at parties there will be some sort of goofy party game. As an introvert, you may be inclined to sit out and watch. Get over that inclination. The time will go faster if you are doing something besides panicking about not knowing what to talk about.
11. Work the room
Moving about the room and talking with different individuals or groups of people is not just the strategy of the uber-extrovert. The movement itself is empowering and frees you from feeling stuck in a corner with someone who may feel equally stuck. Parties are not the place for long and deep conversations, as much as that is the preference of many introversion-inclined individuals. Not that you can’t have a meaningful discussion, but at some point, it would be good to say, “Hey, I would love to meet you for coffee sometime and talk more in depth.”
12. Be the third to leave
You don’t have to stay until the bitter end (unless you’re having a better time than you thought you would, in which case, by all means, stay). But don’t be the first to leave. Or the second. Stay long enough to give yourself a chance to enjoy the experience and get through the periods of utter panic. Stay long enough for other people to enjoy you. Then, when you do leave, do it with class and on your own terms.
If you are inclined to introversion but still like a good party, I hope you find these tips useful. And if you are more of an extrovert, perhaps these will help you see the social world from a different perspective. Wherever you land on the intro-extroversion scale, perhaps you have your own practical methods for getting the most out of a social gathering. Please do share!
Featured image courtesy of rachel.gilmore licensed via Creative Commons.