Happy Holidays, everybody! We’ll start posting again in January.
Happy Holidays, everybody! We’ll start posting again in January.
By Alexia Larcher
It was a Christmas family dinner in May. When my mother-in-law offered me to meet everyone at once on my first visit, I jumped at the chance. I had already met my in-laws a year before and my mother-in-law and I discovered we were fellow introverts. She wanted me to meet everyone over the party so that her son and I did not have to spend most of our vacation visiting with relatives for hours at a time. We had the party a day or two after we arrived.
Over the party, the music was so quiet I don’t remember it at all. I was able to head outside to the patio, or head over to the circle of couches. My mother-in-law offered to run friendly interference with the extroverts in the family if I asked for it. I was able to spend some time one-on-one with most of the other guests before we all sat down at the dinner table for a wonderful feast (cooked by my father-in-law). After the party, my boyfriend and I were then able to spend a good amount of time exploring the area on our own. (Yes, I feel very lucky to have them as in-laws.)
This is what I consider an ideal situation for parties. When I go to parties, I like to know a few people before I go, because it is hard to make a good impression on strangers when you are exhausted from the stimuli of daily life and then get bowled over by the hustle and conversation. It’s hard to hear anything in loud places too. My in-laws also didn’t play music at their party, which made it easier to talk to anyone without shouting. I also don’t like the pressure of having good superficial conversations with complete strangers (compared to friends of a friend), since there is no indication that they will reciprocate the courtesy or the effort.
In my case, I also had a few people who understood when I had enough. You can try to find “excuses”, such as walking the family dog or running errands for the host, to escape for an hour earlier in the day. As a host, you can also try to set up your “party space” into smaller areas where people can both stand around and talk or sit down in a small group and do what they want. (And people gravitate to sitting areas at some point of all parties anyway.) As for New Year’s, you can even choose to go to comedy clubs instead of bars and enjoy the show over a few set hours, which can be more pleasant than spending several hours in loud, crowded bars with no end in sight.
If you are planning games, do rotate between games that involve large groups looking at one person (what I call “spotlight games”) and small teams competing against each other (what I call “team games”). Invite enough people so that not everyone has to participate for the game to start. Some more tips about selecting games over the holidays: http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/11/gaming-tips-for-the-holidays/
To recap, if you are hosting:
– Tell everyone who is supposed to come
– Don’t play too much music, or play it softly for most of the party
– Schedule downtime for yourself to be alone at some part of the day
– Prepare quiet seating areas for introverts
– Rotate between spotlight games and team games
If you are a guest:
– Ally with people who will understand when you’ve had enough and who can pull you out of unending conversations
– Do offer to run errands for the host outside the party area so you can catch some time alone
– Plan some downtime between parties that does not involve traveling
– Try to avoid parties where you know you will have a hard time meeting your friend’s friends and celebrate on your own terms too
One thing I love about the internet is that, no matter how obscure or weird my interests are, it’s possible to find others with similar interests. Considering that introverts account for about 1/3 of the population, though, you wouldn’t think that introversion would be one of these “obscure interests.” We live, however, in a world biased towards extroversion and, because of this, I love that the internet has made it possible for a huge community of introverts to find each other and understand that there’s nothing wrong with them; they’re just different.
I got this badge from this blog, which my blogging buddy Alexia showed to me. Bloggers Cassie, from [Witty Title Here] and Hanna, from Excelsior Lady teamed up to create the badge you see up top. With this badge, they also included a prompt: Just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean… Below are my responses to this prompt.
Just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean I don’t like going out. This might seem a bit oxymoronic, but let me point out (yet again) the real difference between introverts and extroverts. The difference is that extroverts are energized by socializing, but for introverts, socializing costs energy. So, I love going out, seeing friends, etc., but it does tire me out. I do, however, socialize differently from extroverts. First of all, I might have to force myself to go out. An analogy I like to use is exercise. People who go to the gym, or go jogging or play sports will understand. Whatever your activity of choice is, you love it, but sometimes you have to push yourself to actually get out there. You know you’ll have fun once you’re out there; you just need that initial thrust.
Another difference is that I typically don’t “play the room.” If I’m going to a party and I already know some people, I’ll just stick with them. Of course, the point of a party is to meet new people, but the best way to do that, for me, is to have a little group of people I know plus one or two new people. If no one I know is there, I’ll typically get to know some people and stick with them the whole night.
Finally, at the end, there comes the time when I just shut down. Basically, this is my body telling me “enough people for tonight.” What usually happens is that I get tired and, while before I may have been perfectly talkative, after I shut down, I become quiet, unable to think of anything to say, and just wish I were at home. I’ve learned that, at this point, the best option is to just go home.
Just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean I’m mad at you. All I said to you when I came in to work this morning was “hello”? I didn’t stop to chat about what your wife made for dinner last night? My only response to your story about the crazy antics you and your brother got up to last weekend was “oh wow” or “awesome” or something equally general and vague? Instead of reciting the plot to the TV show I watched last night, I was focused on actually doing my work? Is something wrong? Did you do something to make me mad? You have no idea, but at least you understand the most important thing; it’s something to do with you. It’s all about you.
Ok. That last paragraph might have sounded a bit harsh. I know how to function among people and I can understand that if I don’t say anything, people can’t know what I’m thinking. And, in the absence of information, people will think the worst. It’s understandable. I do it myself. It’s just a frustrating situation, something I wanted to get off my chest.
I’ve just now gotten around to reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain. I haven’t finished it yet, but so far, it seems to lay out perfectly what introversion is, the strengths of introverts, and how our culture has become increasingly extroverted, among other things. I’ll probably have a lot to comment on later, but for now, I just wanted to share a quote from the book. I can’t tell you the significance of the quote, all I can say is that it jumped out at me when I read it. The quote is:
“We actually have schools for ‘self-expression’ and ‘self-development,’ although we seem to mean the expression and development of the personality of a successful real estate agent.”
In the book, this quote was attributed to just “one intellectual in 1921.” Googling brought up the name Harold Stearns, but that was just another blogger quoting Susan Cain.
So, in the end, I can’t tell you anything about this quote. I can’t tell you who said this, what it means, or why it seemed meaningful to me. I just thought I would share it.
I know there are a lot of you out there who are still in school and who have just gone through, are going through, or are about to go through that week-long period of final exams and essay due-dates known as “finals week.” In addition to this, you’ve also been hearing, are hearing, or will be hearing a lot of complaining about how stressed out and tired everybody is. I, personally, handed in my last essay just last night and had my last class of the semester. Then I went to sleep for 14 hours.
Finals week for me, though, was actually about a week and a half. Fortunately for me, I like reading, I like writing, and I like being alone (Introvert Power!). All it took was some books, a word processor, some junk food, some (read: a lot of) wine, and an excuse not to see or talk to anyone to turn what should have been a stressful week and a half into a week-and-a-half long booze-fuelled orgy of composing terminological fiches and writing essays about dead translators.
None of this is to say that I didn’t feel any stress during finals week. As much as I enjoyed being holed up in my fortress of solitude, studying for exams, I did have to emerge every once in a while to actually write them. And, as due dates for my essays approached, I naturally had to get a bit more serious. I also didn’t spend the entire week and a half alone. If you’ve been paying any attention at all to this blog or the many others about introversion, you’ll understand that we do enjoy human contact every once in a while.
But, that’s all over now. I’ll try to not sound too happy; I know there are a lot of you who still haven’t even started finals. Keep in mind, that when it comes to getting down and studying or writing essays, this is one area where introverts are definitely at an advantage. If you haven’t done it before, I recommend turning it into a party (or orgy) like I did.
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