Tis the season for parties. Family parties, friend parties, and of course, the obligatory workplace parties. While celebrating is great and all, if you're an introvert, mingling over pine-garnished cocktails and gluten-free finger snacks is your personal hell, so it might be worth preparing some tips and tricks so you don't bolt out the back door five minutes into each gathering. Not that there is anything wrong with an Irish Goodbye, mind you. You just might have the desire to not let your particular social tendencies always rule the roost.
First of all, as counselor Rachel Bauder Cohen, MSW, LCSW tells Bustle, being an introvert is awesome, so if you're sticking to any of these holiday plans, reward yourself for putting yourself out there and trying your best. Give yourself a night off, know your limits, and allow yourself to do the stuff that makes you really recharge — like reading true crime novels while eating a huge bowl of soup delivered from your fave diner. You definitely don't have to go to every seasonal event or stay for a really long time if you do go. But again, expanding your social limits is possible, even if it's challenging, so recognize yourself for putting in the work.
"When you pat yourself on the back and re-energize, you are so much more likely to go out and do it again," Cohen says. And when you are introverted, she says, half the battle of these party settings is your brain, so be mindful of how you're talking to yourself beforehand.
"If we're telling ourselves it is going to be stressful, exhausting, and overwhelming, usually it is," Cohen says, and that's when you're going to want to bolt immediately. "If you can build yourself up, rather than tear yourself down before heading out you are more likely to have some fun and be proud of yourself for making it a good night."
But what do you do once you're there, and have that painful impulse to leave the minute Greg, the head of social media at your startup, offers you some spiked eggnog? According to counselor David Bennett of Double Trust Dating, the whole trick for giving yourself a little time is building in moments and places to recharge.
"Get away by yourself for a few minutes, like going to the bathroom or finding a quiet place to sit for a bit," Bennett says. "Take a few deep breaths and get as grounded as possible."
Checking the premises for little resting spots can be literally the first thing you do when you get in there — a balcony, a bench by the bathroom, or a quiet room where you can send some "I'm here, are you proud of me?" texts to your BFF.
"You can get grounded even while around people by simply giving yourself a pause, being mindful, and paying attention to your breath," Bennett says.
Another tactic for remaining at the shindig a little while longer, Cohen says, is to remind yourself to "scale down." No matter how big the party actually is, you can make it a size you can handle.
"Another aspect of being an introvert is being overwhelmed by group settings, but often being really good with one-on-one settings," Cohen says. "Try to make the party feel smaller by identifying someone(s) who you know (or think) you will enjoy being around and hang out with them."
Identify a "party buddy" even before you get there. If you ever feel awkward or overly tired, find your buddy and know they'll be happy to have your company.
And listen, if you do have to leave fast, just don't be too hard on yourself. And don't get too worried about how you do it. Bennett says that the easiest way to leave when you don't want to be rude is to let a few people you are close to know that you are leaving. He says that if you feel like you need to explain yourself, just be honest that you've had your limit of the party or you've had a big day. You don't have to make up anything too crazy.
"Just leave when you feel like leaving," Bennett says. "You don't really owe anybody an explanation."
Cohen says that it actually can be hurtful to some people to just dip out on them, if they are the type to notice, so give them the courtesy of a quick goodbye. When the need to bolt arrives and you've done what you can to stay, you can always give a quick wave and mouth goodbye from afar. "You can also always send a thank you text to the host if there isn't a chance to grab them," Cohen says.
If you really don't think anyone will notice, feel free to just slip out and not make a big deal out of it. "The other introverts will surely understand," Cohen says. Agreed.
Counselor Rachel Bauder Cohen, MSW, LCSW
Counselor David Bennett of Double Trust Dating