Tis the season for the holiday party. Who doesn’t look forward to an evening of getting dressed up and hitting the town? Of buffets of food and endless glasses of wine? Of catching up with old acquaintances and meeting new ones?
I’ll tell you who doesn’t look forward to it. The introvert.
Parties are supposed to be lively, vivacious and energetic. They usually consist of numerous people (thus the ‘party’ categorization) which means loud noise and lots and lots of chit chat.
I don’t know about you but I, as a staunch introvert, am not a ‘chit chat’ kind of person. In fact, I find people who talk a lot an enigma. They baffle and bewilder me. And I do admit, I am often jealous at the ease at which they find topics to discuss. Having an endless stream of conversation pour out of me is not something that comes naturally. In fact, I force it out and end up a) having a glass of wine to loosen the flow of verbiage and then b) sounding like an idiot because my stream of consciousness (which is how I end up interacting) makes little sense to the person I’m talking to.
By the end of a holiday party, I often sit in silence on the car ride home, my husband eyeing me, wondering what on earth happened to make me so gloomy?
Well, nothing happened. I had just expended every single ounce of energy I had and silence is what I need to replenish.
This can be a tough season for the introvert. Often there is not just one holiday function but several. School plays. Happy hours. Band concerts. The company holiday party. The neighborhood cookie exchange. And on and on and on.
And I really do think these things are wonderful. But they are also difficult.
Why can’t I just be someone else?
I admire the person who shows up to a party dressed impeccably and seems comfortable with themselves. Who greets everyone with a smile and has managed to make enough friends and acquaintances that people are hailing out their hellos across the room. Who laughs and interacts with more people than I interact with in a year.
I stick to the periphery of every room. I zero in on someone who I’m comfortable around and try not to let them out of my sight. Of course, unless I’ve had glass of wine #2 and am well into acting like a complete fool. Then I tumble into silence on the way home and wake up worrying how idiotic I came across.
My first holiday party is tonight.
You know what I’m going to do to make it through?
Bet you won’t guess this’ll be my answer (No, it’s not drink glass #3). It’s this:
I’m going to act like someone else.
I’m going to dress comfortably so I can at least be relaxed physically. Then I’m going to act like the person I sometimes want to be.
Yep. I’ll be an actor. I’ll be warm, gracious (I’m these things anyway but someone has to approach me first). I’m also going to be outgoing, seeking out old friends and introducing myself to new ones. I’ll exert myself, put myself out there, make my rounds and be the smiling, friendly, extroverted person I sometimes want to be.
It is surprising how pretending to be someone else for just a little while can actually work. And I won’t need glasses of wine #2 and #3. I’ll pretend to be the person who doesn’t need a social lubricant. I might still tumble into silence on the way home, but I’ll feel good about how I handled the evening.
And the next day, I’ll wrap the acceptance of my quiet self around me like a warm cashmere cloak and I’ll be content. It’s fun to play dress-up and pretend. Just don’t forgot who you truly are.
Cheers and happy holiday party, Tracy