Shyness Is Nice

Spreading the word about the value of quiet, sensitive people

Do I Have to Go to the Party?

Patience and a sense of humor will help introverts survive the holiday season.

photo by Bob Jagendorf, flickr, CC
We made it through Thanksgiving (but many of us may still be in recuperation mode!), but we still have Chanukah, Christmas and New Year’s ahead of us. While introverts can enjoy holidays just as much as anyone, they can pose special challenges to our need for quiet/recharging time. I'm thrilled that introvert expert, Susan Steele, is joining me today to answer a few questions to help us through this busy season of socializing. 

Barb: What are some ideas you can share with us on making room for that down time?

Susan: I think the most important thing is that you have to advocate for yourself. Extroverts love to engage in social activity; that recharges them. They tend to forget that that’s not true for everyone. So you need to let them know when you’ve reached your limit. If you’re going to a party with an extrovert, agree ahead of time on when you’ll leave. Another tip is to schedule yourself some alone time if you know you’ll be doing a lot of socializing. It’s easy to lose that necessary time to recharge if you don’t schedule it during this very busy season.

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Barb: We know that some parties are inevitable. It could be a work event that’s really not optional or family gathering where everyone is expected. What can you do once you’re at a party to not feel overwhelmed?

Susan: Going into the party with a good attitude is my best advice. In the past, I’ve been to parties where I really didn’t want to be there. And I didn’t have a very good time. That’s entirely my fault for starting out with a bad attitude. Have a positive approach to your party-going this holiday season. It will make it that much more enjoyable. And it’s not a crime if you want to hide for a few minutes in the bathroom. Take a few deep breaths and remember, this too shall pass!

Barb: I know you’ve mentioned in some of your posts that sometimes you may have to act a little more extroverted than usual, although you shouldn’t feel like you have to be an extrovert. Can you say more about that?

Susan: It’s important to remember personality types aren’t carved in stone. Introversion and extroversion are measured on a scale and everybody moves along that scale on a regular basis. Even thought it’s a bit uncomfortable, sometimes it’s valuable to act a little more extroverted on occasion. I think that’s especially true during the holiday season. I tend to think sometimes, “Oh, no, not another party.” But remember that an extrovert might be thinking, “Hey, I get a chance to see Susan who I haven’t seen in a while.” It’s a nice thing when people want your company!

Barb: I wonder what an introvert holiday party would look like! Any idea? (Maybe that’s an oxymoron.)

Susan: Good question! I think it would be pretty small, probably no more than half a dozen people. It would have no planned activities, be very leisurely and involve lots of deep conversations. No one would feel compelled to speak if they didn’t want to. And it would probably end pretty early!

Barb: Any other tips you’d like to share to help introverts survive the holiday season?

Susan: The holiday season is finite. In less than a month, it will all be over. Enjoy the time spent with friends and family. Patience and a sense of humor will help you survive the holiday season without feeling overwhelmed or cranky.

Susan Steele
Susan created Quietly Fabulous, a blog celebrating introverts and introversion.  She helps quiet people share their fabulousness via digital media.  Follow Susan on Twitter or like Quietly Fabulous on Facebook!

Follow Barb on Twitter or on Facebook. You can also follow her self-compassion journey here.

Dr. Barbara Markway, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with over twenty years of experience. She is the author of four popular psychology books and has been featured in media nationwide.

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