Oh, the holiday season: it brings us tidings of comfort and joy, eggnog, mistletoe — and a stream of parties. Work parties, friend parties, family parties… the odds that your weekend will, at some point, involve a crowded room filled with drinking revelers in itchy sweaters are very high. For introverts who would rather be at home by the fire (or its modern equivalent, the laptop/smartphone), this season can bring tidings of stress.
In Susan Cain’s bestselling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, she examines the dichotomy of introversion vs. extroversion. Extroverts tend to be more outgoing, social beings who find it energizing to spend most of their time with other people. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to value their solitary time and can easily become overwhelmed when they have to be around too many people too often. Surprisingly, however, the holidays can actually be a pleasurable time for introverts, as long as they honor who they are and approach the season in their own, introverted ways. Here are some suggestions for making it through the next month:
- Learn to enjoy parties your way. Holiday parties don’t actually have to be a bad thing for introverts. The small-talk required can get exhausting, but parties also offer great people-watching opportunities. Introverts tend to enjoy observing social situations more than participating in them, so don’t pressure yourself to engage in the small-talk; instead circulate around the room and observe the extroverts at their best! When you hear a meaningful conversation that intrigues you, then join in.
- Host a holiday party. It seems counterintuitive, but hosting a party offers an ideal social situation for introverts. As a party host, you are not obligated to participate in the social aspect of a party so much as orchestrate and oversee the event. When feeling drained by too much small-talk, you have a great excuse to slip into the kitchen and check on the food. Introverts are also keenly perceptive to people’s feelings, and they make the perfect hosts, as they are aware of when conversations are lulling and and it’s time to switch gears and play a round of Dreidel or Secret Santa.
- Excel at gift exchanges. Introverts are amazing gift-givers; their thoughtfulness, sensitivity and habitual observation allow them to put a great deal of care into their gifts. Also, introverts’ alone-time provides them with ample opportunity to hand-make gifts and cards — or, if that’s not your thing, to shop for them. If you’re craft-oriented, try taking up knitting or crocheting and make your friend a cozy hat. Even if you’re re-gifting (it’s OK; we all do it), you are likely to do it thoughtfully.
- Use the time to spread the holiday cheer at a homeless shelter or donate to the local food bank. Introverts tend to be more empathetic to others, and you will likely gain a great deal of fulfillment knowing that you are helping others. Volunteering for charities often allows you to feel more connected to your communities without necessarily requiring you to spend a lot of time socializing. Tis the season!
- Use props (drinks count!) There’s no shame in coming prepared to a party full of strangers. One easy trick is to wear a conversation-starting piece of clothing; ugly Christmas Sweater Parties are perfect for that. If you’re more daring — yes, there are plenty of daring introverts — you can slip on some reindeer antlers for a festive way to make a big first impression.The other good news about holiday parties is that there’s often alcohol served at them and, as Cain suggests in Quiet, alcohol acts as liquified extroversion. Also, make sure to wear breathable clothes in case you get stuck inside a stuffy party. According to Cain, introverts’ senses are more reactive to their environment than extroverts’, so introverts tend to break a sweat easier. Wear something under that ugly Christmas sweater that isn’t ugly, since you might end up in that all night.
Best of luck with these tips and enjoy the season your way!
Featured image: Flickr/Cliff