The holidays are a time of celebration and fun. Parties and events fill our calendars. But if, like me, you are a raging introvert, the holidays can also be one of the most challenging times of the year.
The constant push to be social, to be busy, to buy, and to share can be overwhelming. It can push you to be even more of a hermit than normal.
And that’s tragic really. Because the holidays are the perfect time for an introvert to not just connect, but connect meaningfully with those you might not otherwise spend time with. Even better, it’s a perfect time to connect on a much deeper level with those who mean the most to you.
Here are six specific strategies you, as an introvert, can use to maintain your sanity while also allowing the joy of the season to bring you a little out of your shell (in a good way).
1. Schedule Your Alone Time
During this stretch of the year, we spend so much time and energy fitting everything in that we lose sight of our needs. Extroverts gain energy from social interaction; introverts lose energy during social interaction. Meaning, you’re no fun and you won’t have any fun if you don’t get some downtime between events.
If you know you have back-to-back parties to attend, give yourself some breathing space in between and double your recovery time afterward. This might seem like a small matter, but scheduling your alone time will let you look at your calendar with some happiness rather than the inevitable dread of having to be around so many people for so long.
2. Don’t Be So Precious
This is a strategy an introvert should employ all year long, but it is even more important during the holidays when so many people are ripe to connect. We can focus on how overwhelmed we are and how we need to get home to read or sleep or cuddle with our dog who won’t say so many words, but — guess what?
It’s not about us.
It’s about celebrating the idea of giving, sharing, and thinking of ideals that are bigger than our individual needs. Some hardcore people-time might be the biggest contribution you can make to the world right now, even though you’d rather sit at home and read Ian McEwan and listen to Sam Smith.
3. Turn a Party into a One-on-One
Going to a big party doesn’t mean you have to be in the center of things. It can be an opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with people you may not know very well.
Even the loudest celebration will have a quiet corner or nook where you can call up enough concentration to have a meaningful conversation with someone you’ve been wanting to learn more about. And you can consider a genuine conversation as a gift both to yourself and to this other person.
4. Set a Time Hack
Don’t want to go to that party, but feel like you have to? Give yourself a time limit. Show up late and leave early.
Most parties are fluid and there is no expectation for you to be there for the entire thing. Portioning out a time that seems reasonable will make you more likely to go. And, who knows, once you get there, you might have such a great time you end up staying longer than you planned.
5. Create Your Own Dates
If you like the idea of connecting with new people during the holidays, but can’t stomach the idea of hitting all those parties, then make your own dates.
Let’s say you get invited to a shindig and you want to connect with the host, but you’re not into the scene. Invite her to lunch, out for coffee, or to go for a walk. If you really want to get into the holiday spirit, offer to help her decorate or prep food the day before the party. Who wouldn’t jump at the idea of a helping hand?
Spend this time getting to know that person without the interference of the crowd and hosting obligations. You’ll be creating connection and special memories while contributing to the fun more than you would by standing awkwardly in the corner with a mug of eggnog.
6. Be Confident Saying “No”
In the end, this is your holiday season. We’re all adults and peer pressure really shouldn’t be a factor anymore. Be confident in turning down affairs that don’t appeal to you. Be deliberate about the ones you do attend and give those everything you’ve got. Be the merriest, jingliest, jolliest you possible.
Who knows, you might even find yourself enjoying these soirees when you deliberately choose to attend. So back off the expectations and obligations, and reach for the cheer instead.
An Even Happier Holiday
I’m happy to be an introvert. I’m immune to the pull of FOMO and can spend long stretches in quiet reflection. I’m even happier that I’ve developed the skill of connection and no longer fear the holidays and all the party pressures they bring.
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’re a Scrooge, it just means you must be more deliberate and make all of your holiday interactions special.