Tis the holiday season – that means forced festive togetherness with strangers and acquaintances. As a textbook introvert, this can be a terrifying prospect – especially if your particular brand of introversion happens to be laced with varying doses of shyness. Small talk, having to think of things to say to people who you’ve never seen…. Oh the impending awkwardness! But don’t worry – I got you. Here are 6 pro tips to get you through the merriment:
Pre & post game your event. This looks a little different than your normal college version (which I know you don’t/didn’t participate in…wink). If you know you are going into a potentially draining situation, be sure to plan some quiet time in preparation as well as some recharge time afterwards. If you know you have this to look forward to and you are rested up, sometimes that makes it a little easier to turn on your social self while you’re out.
You are not as awkward as you think. Or you are and that’s cool too. I routinely feel awkward in conversation. Like I don’t think of the right things to say, and sometimes I don’t. Many times I’ve had something similar to this conversation:
Stranger: Wow it’s cold out there. Being born and raised here I should be used to it, right? (insert socially acceptable amount of laughter)
My Brain: “ What am I doing with my hands? Do I usually do that with my hands? What if they are tired of talking to me? They’d probably rather be doing something else. Wait – focus. Don’t make this weird. Think of something clever to say. Be pleasant! Be witty! Do it! Now!
Me: Yes, haha. I suppose. So, are you from around here orrr….?
Perhaps the best lesson I have learned in all my introvert-i-tude is to simply understand that I feel uncomfortable in these situations and be ok that I feel that way. Some interactions go great. Some, not so much and I still beat myself up for it afterwards sometimes. But, hey, this is me. It is what it is, friends.
Do a little something to get outside of your comfort zone. Maybe even… start a conversation on your own, or introduce yourself to someone you’ve not met yet! I know, I know, but I think you can do it! The more you push out of your comfort zone, the easier it gets. And by easy I mean still weird, but you will eventually make peace with the weird and it will be your friend. Or at least an acquaintance that you wave at and then duck around the corner so you don’t have to personally interact. Still counts.
Asking questions is a great way to keep conversation going without doing most of the talking. The most important thing is to be genuinely interested in the person you’re talking to, ask them questions about themselves, and then listen. They’ll keep talking, you’re off the hook, and you’ll probably learn something cool about someone cool.
You are already a rockstar because you went to a social event of your own volition. Reward yourself throughout the night by hiding. Find a corner, pull out your phone, furrow your brow and look at the screen with concern as you scroll Instagram, Facebook, recipes or whatever your heart desires. People will likely not bother you for at least a bit. Use it sparingly.
And now, your reward. I’m giving away my secrets here, but this is my preferred way to leave an event. This especially applies here – where the Minnesota Goodbye is an ever- looming threat. It’s like that monster in Stranger Things …. by the time you are in it’s clutches, there’s nothing you can do. To avoid; simply get up, quietly grab your things, wait for an opportunity and then…slip out the door unnoticed. It is polite to say goodbye to your host and if it’s a family function this does not apply, but at rando gathering of randos, feel free to implement it as needed. Then get in the car, listen to the wonderful sound of silence and congratulate yourself on a job well done. You’ve earned it you introverted warrior, you.