How To Not Be An Awkward Wallflower At A Party You Go To Alone
The title of this article suggests I know the answer to this predicament. It suggests I've figured out a way to not be awkward and not stand out as a loner in groups. It suggests I'm a confident, independent woman who can exist wherever she pleases — parties, dinners, brunches, dates. But maybe now you're realizing I don't have the answers. I'm just as awkward as you are. I have an anxiety attack whenever I get have to go somewhere without a plus one. The thought of walking into a room alone makes me dizzy. And yet, thanks to my job — which forces me to network — I find myself constantly in situations where I'm doing just that.
"Just talk to people," my friends tell me. "Just put yourself out there," they say. As if shedding social anxiety and awkwardness is merely a choice, like taking off your shoes or turning on a light. If you're a natural-born wallflower like me, being social doesn't come easily to you. You might have a tight group of friends you've known for a while, but making new friends, especially at overwhelmingly social events, is more than a challenge. If you've got a case of the awkwards, going to a party solo can feel debilitating.
So rather than telling you what you should do, I'll tell you what you should not do, because that's as far as I've gotten in my journey to squash my party-phobia.
Don't Overlook The Details
Make sure you know where you're going, why you're going, and who invited you. If it's an event, make sure you understand the cause or purpose — who or what it's honoring. This will be your best conversational weapon if and when you decide to talk to someone.
Don't Ignore The Dress Code
If you're socially impaired, make sure at the very least, you're dressed appropriately. If you feel comfortable in what you're wearing and confident you're dressed for the party, you're not going to feel a need to hide or blend in (or at least not feel it as much).
Don't Show Up Without An Objective
If you've gone through the effort of getting dressed and getting there, make sure you have and idea of why you're there and what you need to get done. If you're there to congratulate someone, make sure you do so. If you're there to network, force yourself to talk to people. If you're there because you have to be, do your best to look pleasant and like you're enjoying yourself.
Don't Stress About How Long You'll Stay
There's no reason to put unnecessary pressure on yourself. You don't have to be the first to arrive and the last to leave. Give yourself an hour. Have a drink, have a snack, take a few laps around the room and know that it's OK to leave.
Don't Show Up Late
Showing up late can be awkward. While you might not want to be the first to arrive, you definitely don't want to be one of the last. You'll miss those early first awkward moments where people are waiting for their friends, those are the best moments to introduce yourself. The earlier the better.
Don't Hide Behind Your Phone
You might be tempted to fake text all night. Don't do it. It sends a signal to the rest of the room that you're not interested in being there and you're not enjoying yourself. You want to display the opposite. It will be very uncomfortable — fight through it!
Don't Forget To Greet The Host
It's always polite to find the host, thank them for having you and compliment their party. This can count as a social interaction. You can offer to help the host, too, if you're feeling particularly useless or awkward.
Don't Stand Against The Wall
Though it might feel safest to lean against the wall, try to get yourself in the middle of the room. People are more likely to talk to you if you're in the mix of things. If you look hesitant, they'll be hesitant.
Don't Give Up Before Locating The "Fresh Air Area"
There's always some area of the party where people are sneaking off to. Typically it's an outside area where they can smoke or get fresh air. If you're having trouble finding people to talk to, find this area. People tend to be more casual and relaxed there.
Don't Be Hard On Yourself
The harder you are on yourself, the more difficult you make the experience. Try to keep your attitude light. It's just a party. It's not the end-all for your social life.
Don't Leave Without Introducing Yourself To Someone
If you do one thing, introduce yourself to one person. "Hi, I'm Kaitlyn, nice to see you." That's all. You might feel like an idiot. But you'll be proud of yourself for doing it.
Don't Be Afraid To Look Up
It's scary to keep your head up when you're feeling alone and uncomfortable. But keeping your eyes up, opens you up to the room. It tells people you're open to talking to them. It tells people you're having a nice time. Don't be scared to be seen.
Images: Giphy; Paramount Pictures