Required holiday celebrations begin this weekend. My introverted nerves jangle as I brace myself for the marathon that ends New Year’s Day. Crowds make me uncomfortable. I prefer staying home in my comfy PJs, bunny slippers, and snuggling under a blanket with a book. Large parties suck the life from me, blending with normal people is a challenge, and small talk is an awkward ping pong match. Socializing and connecting with others good for me, but I struggle to balance interactions and fake smiles with the individuals I want to see.
Behind each event, is a frantic host who has spent countless hours and superhuman effort to ensure perfection. Honoring their work and surviving, means setting rules before I enter the venue. Pre-party, I arm myself with non-controversial, conversation-starting topics I can use when discussions lag. I move between groups before I run low on questions. I am not shy about using the bathroom or an outdoor terrace as my self-imposed time out zone. These quiet alcoves are excellent for a mini recharge. The added benefit is I discover other introverts lurking there. If I am lucky, we commiserate and share a laugh that makes the extroverts, who can’t stand to miss anything, approach us.
The keys to navigating sizable groups are to keep moving and having a “time to go” signal. It’s never acceptable to leave too early, but there is an optimum moment. I grab my coat, thank my host, and make a graceful exit.
How do you survive holiday parties?
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer