Let’s get this straight. What’s an introvert?
I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.
Let me tell you a story about my introversion.
I am an introvert (an INFP to be precise since I paid US$49 to test my MBTI). To people who know me, I’m bubbly and fun. That’s because I deliberately limit myself to interact in a small group or at least in a big group for a small amount of time.
What happens when I’m thrown into the pool of big parties? I can manage to be sociable for the first hour or so and then my energy deflates.
Once at a company Christmas party, I was being the charming self I was for the first hour. When the second hour ticked by, I felt really tired and just wanted to go home.
But the office party (with external guests!) was still on and I had to be there. In the end, I hid myself in the toilet.
In the toilet, I took deep breaths to calm myself, dreading the time that I will need to go out and socialize. I was ashamed that I had to hide in the loo when everyone else seemed to be fine.
Back then, I didn’t know that introverts’ battery supply get sucked out in events with many people. I thought that I was overdramatic for hiding in the toilet.
Getting over excuses for not going to events or parties
However, even after recognizing that I am an introvert, I wasn’t that eager to jump into the events and party scene. I gave myself excuses, “Oh, why go when I will just be exhausted anyway?” “I’d just be really awkward hanging around.”
But I recently took up life coaching. The process is tough as hell.
One of the homework for the class is to do Acts of Courage (AOC), something that challenges yourself so you step out of your comfort zone or discover that you are more than what you are now.
For one of my Act of Courage, I decided to go to an event. I wanted to be at an event and to talk to people there (AOC 1) without hiding in the toilet (AOC2).
Knowing myself, I strategized my entry to the event. It worked so I want to share these tips with all you introverts out there.
1. Go early
It might be counterintuitive to go early to a party or an event. (“That means I’ll spend more time there. Gasp!”)
But by being early, you won’t be caught mid-party when energy is high. You can also find the perfect spot to remain visible, yet hidden away.
2. Act like you belong
Stop thinking about past experiences where you were super drained by parties. Start being in the party.
When new guests come in, greet them as if you were the host. Crank up your learned-extroversion and treat them as you would with your small group of friends. This will warm them up and they will more likely approach you later.
3. Let people approach you
Once you’ve introduced yourself to enough people, either guide them to your hiding spot or go back to the hiding spot and wait for other people to come over.
At your spot, have a smile to look approachable. (Yes, this tip needs to be stated here because defaulting to Resting Bitch Face is not an option when you’re trying to be friendly.)
4. Hang out in small groups
Limit the number of people you are interacting with by hanging out in small groups. This way, it is easier for you to focus your energy and you won’t be distracted by others.
5. Just listen when you feel drained
When you feel your batteries running low, fall back to this strategy. Look at the other people talking, nod and smile from time to time.
The conversation would be bouyed by the extroverts and you only need to listen. This saves a lot of energy.
Chime in when there’s something you want to contribute. By not speaking all the time, you’ll look even wiser.
6. Hang out with animals
When all fails, find a corner to take a break. Best place to hide is the toilet but make sure you don’t overextend your stay in it to the detriment of others.
If your host happens to have animals, pretend that you’re befriending them instead of just avoiding the crowd.
*NEW* 7. You don’t have to force yourself
One last advice I have is that you don’t have to force yourself to be sociable if you don’t feel like it. (I’m not asking you to be a jerk neither.)
If you’re attending many many parties in a short period of time, you will be drained. If you don’t feel like doing it at all, then don’t.
But if a tiny voice in your head tells you that you need to be sociable, then go back to the top of this post and follow my instructions.
Have fun and good luck!
- How to Survive a Party or Social Gathering as an Introvert via Lifehacker
- Party Survival Tactics for Introverts via Psychology Today