An introvert’s guide to party survival

STEP ONE: Plan your escape. We’re not saying you’re necessarily going to need it, but just having a tailor-made excuse for leaving it in your back pocket will keep your anxiety down. It can be anything from “Sorry, I have another party that I’m supposed to stop by” to “Sorry, I have a migraine.”

STEP TWO: Locate your on-deck circle. When you walk into the party, the first thing you should do is scan the surroundings for somewhere you can retreat to if it gets too overwhelming. This could be a balcony, a bedroom, a hallway, or just the great outdoors.

STEP THREE: Give yourself a task. If you’re worried about not knowing what to do at a party, help the host with whatever needs to be done. Pick up cups, help pass out food, etc. Not only will it give you a set agenda for the night, but you’ll also be able to socialize with a wide variety of people without being tied down to one long conversation filled with small talk.

STEP FOUR: When in doubt, find the other introverts. Look for small clusters of people and attach yourself to them. Odds are you’ll have more in common to talk about, and the manner of conversation will be more your speed.

STEP FIVE: Know when to give yourself a break. If you’re too overwhelmed or uncomfortable, use that out you saved for yourself. It’s completely OK to leave the situation if it’s not doing anything for you. Also plan some alone time the next day to recover.

1989 Harvard Study on Introverts

Take this 1989 Harvard study. A researcher named Jerome Kagan gathered 500 four-month-old infants and subjected them to a series of unfamiliar situations—a balloon popping, the smell of rubbing alcohol, so on.

About 20 percent of the infants reacted strongly to these triggers—they screamed, cried, thrashed their arms and legs. The rest stayed mostly quiet. When Kagan interviewed the subjects years later, he found that most of the children who reacted strongly to the external stimuli had turned out to be introverted.

January 2012 TIME Magazine Article on Introverts

Why does this make sense? The answer lies in the fundamental difference between extroverts and introverts. Psychologist Elaine Aron explained it in a January 2012 TIME Magazine article: Introverts have a low threshold for external stimuli. They get nourishment from internal stimulation—reading, thinking, listening to music—and are drained by external interactions—a lot of people, loud noises.

On the other hand, extroverts feed off these types of situations and grow unhappy without them.

Let’s Recap!

  • Plan your escape.
  • Locate your on-deck circle.
  • Give yourself a task.
  • When in doubt, find other introverts.
  • Know when to give yourself a break.

Did these tips work for you? Do you have any tried and true methods for social situations? Let us know.

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