‘Now that summer’s in full swing, there’s always the chance you’ll be asked to go to a wedding, or a barbecue, or just to a large gathering of people…’
And, since it’s summer and everyone wants to have fun, you will be expected to comply. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to avoid every single party.
For everyday, normal people; this is fun. For introverts; this is Hell. Like, actual Hell. If you find yourself in this sticky situation, let me help you out by providing you with my expert guide on how to introvert you way through the season…
Choose Your Position Wisely
You MUST scout out your surroundings. This can often be done in advance, depending on the location. People may well think you’re unhinged but, what do you care? Knowing the set up of a venue will help massively with your choice of seat.
You do not, I repeat, DO NOT, want to sit next to any bar or buffet. These are areas of heavy traffic. When you sit in an area of heavy traffic, you will end up being spoken to by People. As introverts, we know nothing good can come of this.
Find a table at the back of the room (preferably behind some sort of curtain or partition) and make it your home. This allows you to be present and observe the proceedings without actually having to play an active part. It might sound horrible, but we’re simply not equipped to deal with lots of people at once.
Introverts need to know where they can get to within short notice of a ‘Too Many People Moment’. These are the times we feel completely overwhelmed by a particular situation and makes us wish we were chain smokers so we could pop outside every half hour.
On occasion, we also wish we had small children, so we could use the old ‘Sorry, but our sitter’s only good ’til 9:30pm, so we gotta run now…’ excuse. If you have kids: you’re golden. If not, please only use this excuse if you’re with people you don’t know. Doing it in a room of people that know it’s BS will likely seem rude.
Anyway, what we introverts like is an excuse to take a little time out. In order to do this, you need an escape route. I often find that the ladies toilets are the best place for this as they offer up the only real opportunity for you to lock yourself in a tiny room without people thinking you’ve lost your mind.
You will also need to work out how quickly you can exit any building once festivities are over. Introverts despise all the hand shaking and hugging that goes on when a party comes to a close. We just want to slip out the back door and not pass anyone who wants to grab us for a cuddle and remark on how they’ve hardly had a chance to speak to us.
Dealing with ‘Sitters’
Sitters are lovely, friendly people that you haven’t seen for a while and take up residence at the empty chair next to you. Sitters always, ALWAYS want to ‘chat’. We all know them. They parade around, talking to everyone they meet, and have no concept of introversion.
Internally, these people make you want to scream ‘OHMYGODWHYME??’, but on the surface, you’re cool as a cucumber. You smile and arrange your features into what you hope comes off as your ‘HI! It’s so nice to see you’ look.
We know how this statement makes us sound, and it’s not that we don’t like seeing people we haven’t seen for a while, but we like to do it in isolation. I genuinely do like talking to people but not all in the space of one night. I need to spread it out over period of, say, 3 to 4 years.
Unfortunately, at any large gathering, you will come across Sitters and it’s not always possible to avoid them by pretending you were just on the way to the ladies to powder your nose (read: lock yourself in the cubicle and pray for a zombie apocalypse).
Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and lie through your teeth. Tell them what you’ve been doing with your life. Try to make it sound like you do stuff outside of work when, in reality, you’ve spend the past 20 years devising ways to avoid the exact position you now find yourself in.
Before you attend the party/gathering, carefully come up with a few interesting topics of conversation and then spread them out over the night. Write them down if you have to. Keep them with you at all time and then refer to them when necessary. You can never be too prepared.
Multiple Back Ups
I never go to parties alone because I’m not a maniac. I can barely walk into a pub when my friends are already in there, so there’s no chance of me turning up on my own for a whole night.
Back ups are always recommended for the introvert. However, this is useful if your back up is made up of multiple persons and a LEAST one of them is an introvert. NEVER go to a party with an extrovert.
What will DEFINITELY happen, without fail, is that the person you’re with will float off to speak to someone, leaving you bereft and awkward in the corner. Should this occur, your phone or the family dog become your saviour.
If you have, say, a squad of four backups, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll all just up and leave you at the same time. If you consider this to be a risk, I often find that veiled threats work well. Or staring at someone, wild eyed and terrified, can also help to make them rethink their actions.
Do NOT feel bad for indulging in some emotional blackmail. You can always make it up to your friends at a later date.
Gone are the days when we could successfully ‘people’ for a full weekend. With the exception of my family, husband and very close friends, dogs are the only other living creatures I can cope with on consecutive days.
If you know you have a night out coming up, clear your diary for the next 24 hours to give yourself time to recharge. Recharging mainly involves not leaving the house and not using your phone for anything that involves actual talking. Texts and Snapchats are permissible.
Only once the recharge process has been completed should you think about engaging with anyone. In terms of going out again, you should be good for another few months.
How do you cope with crowds of people?