Holiday parties are torture for introverts. Who's with me?! All that loud music, over-crowded and loud spaces, that awkward chit-chat you have to endure while standing around in uncomfortable shoes. I used to dread the entire "holiday season" simply because every weekend was marked by another Christmas party to attend. No longer. I have crafted a fail-proof holiday party survival plan for introverts.
As a life coach, let me say first that if you really don't want to go to the party, PLEASE, for the love of all that is gingerbread scented, DON'T GO! Holiday season or not, you should not feel obligated to go to a social function that is going to make you incredibly stressed or unhappy. You don't have to feel badly for not going. And you REALLY don't have to make excuses.
Instead, simply repeat after me: "I'm sorry, I won't be able to make it. But thanks ever so much for the invitation!" End of story.
However, if you choose to go to the party, here's how to make it a pleasure instead of a pain (especially if you're on the shy side or an introvert).
1. Dress comfortably.
It may sound self-evident, but sometimes we don't think about how our self-presentation will make us feel. Well, there is nothing that will make you feel more in the spotlight and perhaps even stressed than dressing uncomfortably — a pair of pants or dress you have to keep yanking up (or down), you know the deal.
So keep it simple. Keep it classy. Keep it comfortable, most importantly, and you will feel more confident.
2. Don't overindulge with alcohol.
A little bit of alcohol can be a social lubricant but too much forces you out of your shell. In this state, you are more likely to feel out of control and out of your element. This will drain your energy while also creating "a vulnerability hangover," not to mention the possibility of a physical hangover too.
3. Take frequent "timeouts."
The key to happy and healthy holiday party-going is energy conservation. So take frequent breaks from the buzzy party atmosphere. Find a quiet spot and spend 10 minutes grounding yourself. Take deep, slow breaths to get back in your body. No need to rush. Once you feel like yourself again, you can head back out. Repeat as often as necessary.
4. Be yourself. Or at least try.
Oh, that old chestnut. But how?! Well the first step is trying. Be a little vulnerable. Admit to yourself (or even others, if you're up to it) that you're not the best in large crowds. Risk starting conversations that may be actually meaningful or interesting to you.
Introverts have trouble with small talk because we value deeper communication — quality not quantity. So try practicing genuine curiosity about the people you meet. Find out who they really are.
5. Have an exit strategy — and use as needed.
Even with timeouts, if you are unable to get grounded or if you feel tired, over stimulated, or just out of sorts, it's time to say goodbye. I give you permission to leave early. Go on, it's okay. Find the host/hostess thank them for their hospitality and say goodnight.
Now it's time to party!