An Introvert's Holiday Guide
Are You An Introvert?
Introverts retreat inside their mind as their safe place to create, daydream, and plan. According to Psychology Today, "Introverts are drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits..but many introverts socialize easily; they just strongly prefer not to." Many people often mistaken an introvert for being rude, shy, self-centered, or just a loner. While yes, some introverts can seem that way, most of the time they are just thinking in their head about their next move. Not all humans like being alone for long periods of time and that goes the same for introverts. Sure, they prefer not to socialize most of the time, but everyone wants to have fun some of the time. And this holiday season, I encourage all introverts to try to get out of your comfort zone and enjoy this seasonal chapter of life.
Tempted to Hide Away?
Reasons Introverts May Not Enjoy Holidays
- Traffic galore
- Not only do you have more traffic on the road with everyone traveling but there also tends to be more foot traffic in major shopping areas. Everyone gets annoyed at long lines but an introvert would rather use the self-checkout than deal with small talk. However, some stores just do not partake in that kind of thing. And yes, there is such a thing as online shopping now, but not everyone wants to buy their gifts online. Plus, anybody celebrating with family feasts will tend to grocery shop more during this time of year. For an introvert, having to deal with more lines and the possibility of small talk while buying bread isn't fun.
- Pressure to appear happy
- Introverts can enjoy a nice holiday vacation and enjoy the company of certain people. But introverts are usually focusing on what is internally going on in their own mind and with their own emotions. Have you ever tried to talk with relatives and come up with perfect responses to multiple questions without trying to hint that you really rather be watching Netflix and eating caramel popcorn alone? Most of the time, an introverts mind is busy trying to recharge after socializing. With the added pressure to appear happy even after participating in a social event, it's hard to come across as inviting.
- Negative feelings
- Frustration: Let's say you gave it your all trying to reach a level of extroversion you don't have. But it wasn't enough to get recognized at your company, your friends still think you need to get out more (and quickly invite you to another event) and you really miss time to yourself. While you love to be on a holiday break from work or school, it still can be frustrating. Maybe you want to socialize more but don't have the skill set as your extroverted counterparts. Maybe you realize how everyone around you seems to have more fun than you at big events or social gatherings. Whatever it may be, frustration is common when you struggle to get out of your comfort zone.
- Anxiety: Because you're often inwardly thinking and not rapidly exchanging your thoughts and ideas to others, you may find yourself overwhelmed or anxious during a gathering. What if someone brings up a topic you would love to get into discussion about? What if you appear foolish if you can't come up with something quick to say on the spot? Everything bubbling inside can become too much for an introvert when there is no time to organize and creatively think of something to say.
- Loneliness: So maybe you don't participate in regular holiday events. You prefer it that way and are content with just doing your own thing. That is totally fine. However, if everyone else you know and hang out with is off celebrating, socializing, or shopping, it can be a little bit lonely when you actually do want to hang out with someone without everyone else.
Favorite Holiday Escape Plan
Which excuse have you used to get out of a holiday gathering?
Pick Your Battles
Ways To Ease Your Mind
In the case that you want to get out of your introverted comfort zone this holiday season, let's move right on to some helpful tips. If you're anything like me - an anxious, introverted, overwhelmed by every holiday type, I hope these will help!
- Be grateful.
- Remember that you only have however many years left with your loved ones. You may be feeling very uncomfortable but honestly, couldn't it be worse? If you're lucky enough to have friends and family that want to socialize with you, eat with you and even give you gifts, that is really something. You still have time to smile, laugh, think, and participate in holiday games and fun. Be grateful that you've made it this far in the year!
- Try Doing Something Small
- Big events aren't your thing and that much is truer than true. Try planning a small gathering with your closest of relatives. Then plan a small gathering with your best friends. Breaking it up into small events on one holiday can help ease your mind. You can leave one event early using the "I've got somewhere to be!" excuse when your family dinner goes on a little too long for your taste. This time you won't be lying. And in between gatherings you can listen to your favorite song and take a breather.
- Pick Your Battles
- You might not be able to keep to yourself when you have family that hasn't seen you in a long while. Don't panic. Answer the questions you feel comfortable with and leave the rest to a short response. Smile and remember that if things get into a debate of some sort, you can choose just to end the conversation and then grab a quick party snack. It's rude to talk with your mouth open and you'll have some time to think while you chew. Then you can head to the bathroom or a quiet space to regain some introvert energy back. If this makes you uncomfortable, choose to be listener rather than talker. Just make sure you don't space out during the conversation.
- Try to Enjoy Yourself
- If this is your only time off work or school, try your best to enjoy yourself. Introvert or not, life is about enjoying the moments that bring you the most happiness. Find something good in every situation. Try the hot cocoa, have a baked good, laugh at someone's lame jokes, appreciate any gifts and play a round of cards. Things may not be so bad in the end. When you look at things from another perspective you can take a breather from all those thoughts.
- Give Back
- Even if you don't celebrate or participate in any holiday events, know that you can still play a role in making someone happy during this time of year. Whether it's donating unused clothes, volunteering at a food bank, giving to an organization or simply helping your neighbor or friend. I know it's been said before but giving back to your community really makes you feel good. It can let people see that even though you prefer to socialize on your own time, that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and help others when you can. Even if you're overwhelmed by going to a volunteer event, you can be certain that those in need appreciate the good deeds.
Enjoy The Little Things
Not Sure How To Engage At An Event?
- Games are a fun way to get to know people subtly. Since there are many types of games go for ones you would feel comfortable participating in. Try playing games that involve team efforts like "Charades" or "Catch Phrase" for more of a social challenge. Games that are straight forward to play like "UNO" or a game of cards are easier to begin with. Video games are also a good way to build some social skill while having fun. You're never too old to have a good time.
- At casual events, say hello to new faces and socialize more with people you know. Be relaxed and be yourself. At work events, let someone introduce you to new faces and say your greeting with confidence. You can socialize with people you work with the most. Have fun, smile but act professional when need be.
- Easy conversation topics usually include general hobbies. Talk about what you like to do. Ask others if they like the same things as you. Simply stating "I love going on nature walks" can intrigue other nature lovers to say "Me too!" Nobody likes small talk but sometimes you can create a good vibe with small talk when you're around the right people. You can say "I have a Labrador named Barker" and someone might say "I love dogs! I have 2!..." Proceed to either engage or just listen to others as you wish. You can start a conversation and let the rest happen.
- Awkward encounters do happen. Luckily during the holidays many things may be going on and if people are drinking wine or eggnog, they'll most likely forget. If you happen to embarrass yourself, let any negative thoughts go and keep pushing yourself to be social. Take a quick break if you need to. Just make sure to come back to the group to redeem your confidence.
- Need a break but there is nowhere to hide? Offer to refill anyone's drinks and gather your thoughts. Most likely these people are grateful they don't have to get up to refill their drink. Also there is always the bathroom break. You get some privacy and nobody thinks anything of it (unless you use this tactic too much). Another good way to get some alone time is step outside. If you live where winter holidays are really cold, good chances are you'll be one of the few wanting to be outdoors. Lastly, if you're with people who have pets, spend time getting to know the pets. Usually animals are easier to deal with than humans as an introvert.
Have A Warm Heart This Season
Introverts Have Creative Power. Don't Think Something Is Wrong With You
Go Forth And Be Merry
It may seem like the holidays last forever. From mental preparation, shopping and decorating to socializing with people you normally wouldn't, all this can definitely take a toll on an introverts emotions and mental efforts. Take it one day at a time. Even though people may expect you to be different or just a little more open, always put your health first! Rest up and hydrate if you start to feel ill. Don't let the stress wear you down too much. As long as you gain experience points, you will grow as an individual.
Holidays may be something you don't want to deal with ever but the trick is to look at it from another angle. How many more years do you have left on earth? Do you really want to miss out on any fun? As I mentioned before, holidays aren't for everyone but spending time with others is an opportunity we all have before we leave this earth. Even if you don't celebrate any particular holiday, you can take time to self-reflect and give back. You can take time to appreciate everyone or everything that has taught you something. You can even just indulge in a nice dinner with your family or friends and let them talk the most. Take it easy when you can especially if this is the only time to spend with your loved ones. You can always recharge your socialization powers but some opportunities shouldn't be taken for granted. You can do anything you set your mind to. Don't dread the holidays as an introvert. Make the best of who you are with what you have.