Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Introvert's Christmas Survival Guide

I'm an introvert.  There, I said it.   I’ve learned to live with it over the years and, now that I know there’s an actual term for it and that I’m not just shy and anti social, I’m ok with it.

For a good while I thought I was a bit odd, but the Internet has let me know that there are many, many others just like me.  For that, I'd like to say: I'm sorry and I feel your pain’.   I'd come and talk to you about it, but I really don't want to.   Email, instead?   
Being introverted causes all manner of problems for me personally, and often for the people I come into contact with who don't understand it. These people are often extrovert.   Or, as I like to call them: scary AF.   Some extroverts simply cannot grasp the concept of people who genuinely find it exhausting to be around people for any length of time. 

Nothing horrifies an introvert more than the run up to Christmas.    Seriously, there’s an office night for my job, one of LT's, family things, other family things and nights with friends….it’s never ending.   And that’s only the pre stuff.   After all that, you’ve still got to muster the energy to get through the 25th.  

If you, too, find it tiring to constantly ‘people’ over the festive period, this is my guide on how to survive with your sanity intact and stopping yourself from stabbing someone in the eye with your fork:

introvert problems
has everybody gone yet?
Pace Yourself:
I can't overstate this enough.   If you're knackered by the sheer thought of all the humans  you have to visit/spend time with/pretend to like, you will always need to make sure you don't over-people.   This generally means you should do a small amount of stuff one night and take the next night off to recover.  

If you're like me and only have a few days off over Christmas and a 300 mile drive to get home, you don't really have the luxury of spreading out your contact.   In this situation, you will be forced to incorporate your hiding time into the actual visiting.  I would, at this stage, like to point out that my suggestions are not things I do to avoid my family, because they're fabulous.   Obviously.    
Bathrooms:  these are the best friend of the introvert.   Your hosts or guests will think it entirely natural that you visit the toilet from time to time and it can be the perfect place to hide away for a few minutes of peace and quiet.   Try not to do it too much though, or people will begin to wonder if you have the world's tiniest bladder.   Also, if you don't co-ordinate your actual bathroom visits with your pretend bathroom visits, you will almost certainly look a tiny bit weird.    BUT, there's every chance this could work in your favour when you don't get asked back next year.    

I'm just gonna lie here and try to blend into the background.

Getting Stuff:   Host: 'Can someone nip out to the garage and pick up another bottle of diet coke?'   Me:  'I'll go!  I'll go!  Let me grab my shoes. Yeah, yeah, I know they're brand new suede peep toes and there's six inches of snow outside, but they were only £100 and I've always been fascinated with the concept of frostbite...'

Do try to be on hand when someone needs something that will take you away from the main event for a minute.   Getting more drinks; collecting overnight bags from cars; taking someone's pet hamster for a walk…you know, all the totally normal things that party guests get involved in.   

The only issue with this one is that some of these tasks, such as jacket hanging, are often selfishly sandwiched at the beginning and end of an evening.  Therefore, you must unleash your creative side to find something to occupy you in between.   

Head Party Cook:   Take control of the oven.   Even if you're best friends with a Chef; tell them that they do way too much cooking on normal days and they totally deserve a break at Christmas.  

If you can cook, busy yourself in the kitchen looking contemplatively at the back of your Iceland chicken nugget boxes for heating guidelines and avoid small talk with your parents' neighbour's sister in law's cousin's son.     If you can’t cook, you may run the risk of setting things alight, activating the smoke alarm, and ending up with a full house evacuation.   Either way: you're golden.    

Yeah, I totally made it from scratch.   That's absolutely the reason I've been in the kitchen so long.

Phone:  Yes, it appears rude and yes, people will judge your for it but I'd rather be bitched about by some random that I don't want to chat to anyway than stand around feeling totally awkward, praying for a sink hole to suddenly appear in the kitchen lino and put me out of my party related misery.  

On the positive side, you will be amazed at how many technology related stories you'll suddenly be desperate to read on your Sky News app. Think of all that interesting knowledge you’ll pick up that you would never otherwise have known. It’ll keep your busy AND it’s educational.   A win-win situation, I'm sure you'll agree.   

Let’s face it; it does make you a bit more prone to chatting.   It’s sometimes the only thing that makes people realise that I’m not, in fact, mute.    Do watch your levels, though.   Nothing makes people less understanding about introverts than when you no longer fit within the odd boundaries of what they assume is expected introvert behaviour.   Mostly, they're completely wrong.   After a few proseccos, chances are you might not care.   

Whatever you do to get yourself through the festive period, don’t apologise for it.   And certainly stop feeling bad that you’re not complying with what people think you should be doing.  Do what’s right for you and feel free to slap the first person who says to you: 'oh, you'll be fine, you just need to mingle...'    

These people hold a special place in my heart along with women with kids who ask women without kids when they're having them.   But that's another post altogether.    

Do you have any tips to get yourself through the Christmas party season?

Suzanne x

Ooh, yes please.... 


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