This post could also be titled “Not Becoming the Grinch This Holiday Season.” Because, honestly, this is something I struggle with every single Christmas. There are people who thrive on social interaction and come away from a party energized. And there are those of us who can only handle crowds in small doses. As much as I love celebrating Christmas, I am, at heart, a very introverted person. I recharge through time alone. Making small talk depletes me of energy. Being around a crowd feels overwhelming and make me want to count down the minutes until I can leave. My idea of a fun holiday evening involves being snuggled up on the couch in my pajamas with a glass of wine and It’s A Wonderful Life (I’m exciting like that).
So how do you handle holiday events when you are an introvert? Here are a few things I have learned over the years.
Look for ways to connect with the people around you. I do not enjoy making small talk. At all. But social events are much more enjoyable when I take the time to look beyond myself and show a genuine interest in the lives of others. Look for ways to reach out. Smile. Be kind and look for ways to encourage someone else. Focusing less on myself inevitably brings more joy.
Be you. If you are not an extrovert don’t try to be one. It’s ok to be the “quiet one.” But don’t use it as an excuse to not engage with others.
Decide when you will leave. I don’t know why, but it is easier to relax when my husband and I pre-determine our departure time from an event. It instantly calms my anxiety when I know the departure time.
Don’t use your phone as an escape. This is something I have to preach to myself constantly because as an introvert I find it very easy to reach for my phone when I need to temporarily escape the crowd around me. Don’t. Leave your phone in your purse or car. It’s rude to constantly check your phone and communicates a lack of interest in the people around you.
Give yourself space. If you find yourself feeling very overwhelmed it is ok to step away for a few minutes to recharge. Breathe deeply. Go to a quiet room. Step outside Take a few minutes to savor the silence before returning to the crowd.
Communicate your needs. If you feel yourself becoming the Grinch, try talking to the people around you and sharing your needs. Always remember: your husband doesn’t read your mind. After a holiday event I often tell my husband that I am “peopled out” and need quiet. He is an extrovert and when we leave a party he is usually energized while I am completely drained. Taking the time to let the people around you know what you need is hugely helpful to them.
For a long time I wanted to be the life of the party – the extrovert who loved socializing. But I’m not. And that’s ok. This Christmas as you look for ways to navigate holiday events, give yourself grace to embrace and accept the complexities of you. Find ways to give yourself the space you need. But also choose to look beyond yourself and seek ways to connect with others. One of the great joys of the Christmas season is time spent with family and friends. Even if you can only handle socializing in small doses, choose to engage with the people around you. Balancing time alone with social events is the perfect blend for a truly Merry Christmas.