ecret: I’m an introvert who has extroverted friends. This means I get invited to…parties (dun dun dun). If you’re like me, you’ve probably felt an uncomfortable feeling creeping in when a party’s coming up. While potentially fun, parties can also be draining.
I am very grateful to have friends who consider me enough to invite me to their events. It’s important to me that I support my friends by showing up and enjoying myself, and it’s taken me several years to figure out how exactly to do this.
I’m still learning, but there are a few things I’ve learned to do that help me out.
1. Optimizing Small Talk
I’m a textbook introvert in that I hate small talk. While I won’t engage in small talk at length, I have learned that it’s a useful tool. I’ve found that it’s helpful when I meet new people (or familiar faces that I haven’t seen in a while) to talk about standard things: school, work, holidays, etc to learn a bit about the person.
2. Asking People Questions About Themselves
The little bits of information that I get out of small talk about the other person or a shared interest gives me ideas for what I can ask the person about. This is where being an introvert comes in handy: we tend to be great listeners and tend to prefer more specific questions instead of more general small talk. I find it helpful to play to my strengths here and just ask the questions that interest me. For example, “what made you want to study what you’re studying?” “You must have some interesting stories…can I hear one?”
3. Knowing My Limits and Being Upfront About Them
This one took me the longest to learn, and I’m still trying to find that sweet spot between what’s socially acceptable and what works best for me.
That being said, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best to be honest about how I feel about parties.
If it’s not a wedding or some other major life event, I pretty much always leave early when I go to a party. I’ve gradually increased the amount of time I stay over time from 1 hour to 3 or 4. I imagine I’ll keep trying to increase the time.
In the meantime, I may have to account for why I don’t stay. At a recent party, I was asked why I was leaving so early. Instead of making up an excuse like I used to do, I simply told the truth: I was here because I wanted to support my friend, but in truth, I was not one for parties. It went over well, so I think I’ll try that again the next time.
4. Where Possible, Being Able to Get Home on My Own or Having a Reliable Ride
I don’t bolt out of parties like I used to, but it’s still helpful to me to know that I can leave around the time I planned. I feel more relaxed that way, and that helps me to have a better time while I’m at the party. It also helps me from a safety point of view because I am much less likely to leave feeling stressed or overtired. This allows me to pay better attention to my surroundings on the way home.
5. Not Trying to Be an Extrovert
Extroverts are best at being extroverts. Instead of pressuring myself to try to engage everyone or to be the life of the party, I’m learning that there’s nothing wrong with sitting in on a conversation, laughing along, and making a comment from time to time. Doing something, like dancing, playing a video game, watching people play a game, or helping serve food is also helpful in that it’s a way for me to participate and have fun whilst also taking a break from talking.
6. Choosing Friends That Are Compatible with My Personality
Out of all these lessons I’ve learned in party survival, this one is the most important. I seriously doubt how successful any of these things would be if I didn’t have friends who were accepting of the fact that I’m an introvert who’s not big on parties. I am extremely blessed to have the friends I do. Even if they go out to events frequently, they don’t look at me funny when I tell them I’m not huge on parties or push me to be the life of the party when they know that’s not me. They also appreciate hanging out in a variety of settings, not only at parties.
I’m learning that choosing friends is a skill that takes time and practice, but I’ve found that trusting my gut is a good guide.
If a potential friend isn’t accepting of the fact that we’re different, we are unlikely to be a good match.
Trying to push me to do things I don’t want to do, even after explaining to them why I don’t want to do them, is a big red flag for me and a sign to move on.
At the end of the day, I’m not sure whether parties are an introvert’s paradise (or at least not a paradise for me), but I’m learning that it’s possible to enjoy them. Life is much better when there’s joy to be found in one more thing! Hope you found this helpful, or at least relatable.
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