Not every box in our social calendar is filled with events and dates we're excited about. Sometimes you have to suck it up and spend an evening where you really don't want to be, but there are ways to enjoy an event you hate, even if it seems impossible. I get it: The majority of us have been there. You begrudgingly accept a birthday dinner that's going to put you out rent wise, you come to a painful networking event because #CareerGoals, you have to show up to that family dinner and survive hours of talking to your awkward cousins. It could be a nightmare. But rather than dreading the event all week and wishing for an accidental and swift death before you have to go into the car and drive out, you can instead learn to enjoy the time you're going to spend there.
And no, I don't mean take full advantage of the open wine bottles or that tempting cheese plate. Rather, you can find the good in the situation: You can practice your conversation skills, you can try and meet as many cool people as you can, or you can try and let your freak flag fly and see how people respond to it. See, there's lots to do. Below are 11 ways to enjoy an event you hate — it'll turn things around.
1. Make It Easier For Yourself Beforehand
When you feel like you're slaying it at a social event, you automatically feel better for being there. So to make it easier for yourself, prepare beforehand to have some fun topics on hand. Lifestyle writer Beth Burgess at lifestyle site Pakwired wrote, "When tasks are much too challenging, we find it hard to enjoy them." So say you're getting lunch with your bosses or heading to a family party — watch some cool TED Talks, seek out some quirky articles, and jump into conversations that aren't about the weather but have potential for some weird and entertaining talks.
2. Give The Event Some Meaning
Are you going to a networking event, or a house party you just know is going to be a dud? Rather than groaning about it, give the event a fun purpose. According to Burgess, "You can turn any task that repels you into one which compels you by looking at what it means in the grand scheme of things, or seeing what it gives you personally." So going to a networking event will let you practice being charming in front of complete strangers, or going to a lemon of a party can give you a chance to be the person that makes it entertaining.
3. Create A Mission To Find The Coolest Person
You hate where you're at, but chances are there's at least one cool person there. They might have gone backpacking through South America last year or own a trio of pugs — it's your mission to find them. So go on a small talk bender, and mingle from person to person until you find your golden goose. Lifestyle writer Eric Ravenscraft from Lifehack offered, "Unless you believe you have met all the cool people you could ever need or want in your life, chances are someone out there has a cool story. Small talk is how you find them. And they want to be found."
4. Make It About Others
Rather than wondering how you'll entertain yourself through the next brutal couple of hours, switch gears and make it less about you and more about others. As in, play host and start making people enter into interesting and fun conversations. According to business coach Sarah Von Bargen, "Don’t you hate hovering at the outside of a conversation circle, doing that thing where you nod and make eye contact and devotedly hope that someone will include you? Be the person who invites others in." When you're trying to chat with people for the sake of making the situation more fun for them, your shyness and awkwardness melts away because it's no longer about you. The focus is about them — plus, who knows what kind of interesting convos you'll get into that way.
5. Find A Hiding Spot
If you're at an event that makes you want to do an eye roll every five minutes, you're going to need a sanctuary where you can just lean against the wall and unwind. Ravenscraft advised "When you first arrive, scout out a place that you can retreat to if you need a moment. It can be a patio, a kitchen, a bathroom, or even just your car." There you can sit and scroll through Pinterest, look at cat pictures, or watch Beyonce videos — or whatever it is that pumps you back up.
6. Reframe Those Negative Feelings
Say you're dreading an event because you're nervous about what others will think of you or how you'll fair going through all that small talk. Instead of believing that dread, reframe it. According to confidence coach Jennifer Alonzo, "I tell myself that this nervousness is excitement. I am about to enter the unknown and I might meet anyone: the person with whom I will win the Nobel prize, the perfect post-doc for my research project, maybe even a fellow Dr. Who fan." Those butterflies are just excitement, and that dread is unfounded fear.
7. Zero In On The Purpose Of You Being There, Then Do It
Are you forcing yourself to go to that birthday dinner party because you want your relationship with your friend to grow, or are you going out for drinks because you don't want to be a recluse? Well, you're already heading out of the house, so you might as well do your best to fulfill the goal of the evening. Career writer Amanda A. Ebokosia from Forbes pointed out, "You have to assess key reasons as to why you need to be there. There should be a purpose." Keep that purpose in the forefront of your mind and do your best to fulfill it.
8. Use It As A Chance To Share Your Real Self
If you hate the event you're at, chances are you don't really care what others will think of you. Because of it, use it as an opportunity to be the real you and see how people will react to it. As Ebokosia encouraged, "Always be yourself and confidently share who you are with others." Start those quirky conversations, tell jokes fearlessly, and share your idiosyncrasies.
9. See That Every Chat Has Some Potential
You can meet your next travel buddy, business connection, bar hopping confidant, or love interest in every talk you have. Keep that in mind and moving through the crowd becomes a lot more exciting. Lifestyle writer Scott Dinsmore at self development site Live Your Legend explained, "I’ve experienced enough serendipity to know that every new event or interaction has the potential to lead to a new friend, partner or idea. Approach new people that way and it starts to become self-fulfilling."
10. Don't Do Any Of The Work
If you hate where you're at, don't force yourself to do any of the work: Just listen. Come up to people and mingle, but push the conversation so they're doing all the talking and entertaining. And the neat thing is, if you ask the right questions and keep them chatting, they'll think you're amazing. Business analyst George Mount at career development site Brazen wrote, "Guess what? If you are interested in other people, people will find you interesting." So easy.
11. Promise Yourself An Unwind Sesh Afterwards
Whether it's stopping at your favorite gourmet donut shop (hello whisky bacon bites!) or grabbing your favorite plush throw and unwinding with a movie, make the event you're at more enjoyable by promising yourself an unwind treat afterwards. Ravenscraft explained, "It will give you something to look forward to later so you don't feel trapped or overwhelmed by the group." Which sounds pretty perfect.
So the next unwanter event you're at, don't pout. Make the most of it with these tips!