We are in the middle of the holiday party circuit right now.
As an introvert, a holiday party is pure torture. With all the small talk, the people and the loud music, it's simply a lot for an introvert to take in.
I used to loathe holiday season simply because every weekend was another tinsel-and-mistletoe-laden-awkward-conversation-fest to attend.
But this year, I resolved to work through my introversion and participate in holiday party season.
I have tackled the parties I've been invited to, and I've worked through some of my issues.
Although there is never ever an obligation to attend every single party you're invited to, you should try to attend some of the events.
Whether it's a work holiday party or your best friend's ugly Christmas sweater party, try to at least make an appearance at some holiday celebration.
If you're having trouble gathering the strength and courage to tackle a holiday celebration without recoiling in dread, then this simple guide will help all the introverts handle the anxiety-inducing holiday party season.
1. Monitor your alcohol intake.
While alcohol can be a social lubricant that makes even the most introverted soul the life of the party, too much can turn you into Sloppy Sally.
And Sloppy Sally is one hot mess that you will regret the next morning.
Getting wasted at a party after college is a really bad look for anyone. It's even worse if the holiday party is a work event.
You'll be riddled with guilt for gossiping about Cindy in accounting the next morning. So if you do decide to drink, monitor your intake by alternating between alcoholic beverage and water.
2. Wear something comfortable.
There is absolutely nothing that will make you self-conscious more than a dress you constantly have to adjust.
Keep it simple, and keep it classy. Then, your wardrobe will be one less thing you have to stress or worry about.
3. Take frequent party breaks.
This is the introvert's party secret. Energy conservation is what we all need after interacting with a variety of people, especially new people.
When we're at a party, there aren't many opportunities to have even 5 minutes to ourselves. This is when I pull out my personal party break.
The trick is, find a bathroom and try to tune out the noise. A little bathroom break lets you recalibrate your energy and come back filled with anecdotes you didn't know you had.
A good thing to do to reset your energy is to do a quick, 1-minute meditation. Take a few deep breaths and envision your happy place, wherever that may be for you.
There is no need to rush the process. Just let yourself be at peace in the moment.
And when you feel ready, you can head back out. And please, feel free to take multiple breaks throughout the party or whatever feels good to you.
4. Just be yourself.
Yes, this is much easier said than done. Vulnerability is something we as introverts only share with those we trust, which means new people don't always get to see us for who we truly are.
By blocking ourselves off from connecting, we don't allow ourselves the opportunity to make any meaningful connections with others, which is what we are seeking in all our interactions.
That terrifying feeling of being judged by others will disappear once you find yourself connecting with others. Because at our core, we desire real connections with people.
By allowing ourselves to become vulnerable and true to ourselves, we can develop friendships with people, even people we just met.
Risk starting conversations that are actually meaningful or interesting to you.
Introverts have difficulty with small talk because we desire a deeper conversation and quality, not quantity.
Try channeling your inner curiosity and genuinely asking questions with people you meet. Discover the human connection beyond the ugly sweater.
5. Have an exit strategy.
It's inevitable that as an introvert, we will tire out earlier than others at any event we attend. So when you feel tired, overstimulated or just over it, then please leave.
Don't make yourself stay somewhere that makes you feel uncomfortable. It is completely OK to leave whenever you want.
Just make sure you've made your presence known to the host. Otherwise, go on home. It's OK.
Let the host know you had a great time, thank them for the invite and hospitality and wish them a good night. That's all.
Don't start questioning if you'll be the first person to leave or what will others think. They are just glad you were able to join them for as long as you could.
So, go on and channel your inner college party girl or bro and let loose. Go connect with the new hire about something random.
And who knows? You may even meet a stranger who turns into "the one," or at least "the one for now."