I feel guilty for being an introvert. Mainly because in being so, I frequently deprive the world of the pleasure of my company. It’s not that I hate people; it’s just that I am driven by a strict genetic law: no more than two social activities a week, and that includes work, which happens four times a week.
So I either scorn the dictates of my genetic wiring (that sounds dangerous, in a science-y way) or quit my job. I might start taking donations from friends so I can do the latter without becoming a burden to our darling government.
Before we go any further, let me dash to pieces a common misconception surrounding introverts: being an introvert does not mean one is an awkward and unsociable mutant. (I got that from being home schooled.) Much to my dismay, brooder, egoist, and narcissist are included in a list of synonyms for introvert. This is clearly the result of a fallacious extrovert conspiracy, who comprise a hefty 70% of the population and most likely wield control over online dictionaries. Hence the more flattering synonyms of gregarious and life of the party for extrovert.
In reality, the distinguishing difference between the two personality types is that extroverts derive energy from large groups, while introverts are energized from smaller gatherings or solitude. Here’s another way to look at it: introverts are so deliciously interesting and exciting that we need the company of no one save ourselves.
So back to parties. As any soldier knows, one doesn’t waltz into a battle field unarmed. After 28 years of rocking the introvertness, I’ve perfected the art of partying like the Amish have perfected technology.
1. Bring a craft to parties
Even the most erudite of minds run out of things to say; even the most bountiful food spread will eventually be pillaged clean. When minds and mouths are empty, hands must be full! I’ve taken to bringing crafts to gatherings (no, I don’t socialize exclusively in nursing homes). Awkward silences are filled with the industrious clicking of my needles and the design of my project proves an ever-fresh inspiration for flagging conversations.
Also, to my eternal surprise, it would appear my bad-ass image has only been enhanced by the introduction of my Batman cross stitch project into social circles.
2. Help with clean up
This is a win-win. You avoid banal conversation AND earn points for being helpful. If equipped to do so, listen to an audio book while cleaning and accrue additional points for being intellectual. Make sure to wear a slightly-pained, ecstatic expression, as if your brain is physically growing … and you like it.
3. Hide in the bathroom
Make sure you have a book or a smart phone with which to occupy yourself during the stake out. Bring snacks in case the cloistering lasts longer than 10 minutes.
4. Stage a phone call during the party
Make it sound like you’re invited to another party that’s more awesome than the one you’re currently at. Throw in key terms like ’9pm end time’ ‘unlimited kale chips’ ‘I can’t hear you because that classical music is so loud’ ‘want me to bring my cross stitching?’ etc. Make sure you prep your mom beforehand so she doesn’t blow your cover.
5. Dehumanize fellow partiers
If you’re the nervous sort and are terrified of making conversation, the customary advice of imagining people naked doesn’t ease the agitation. Either you end up frothing with jealousy or are horrified at the vision, and then things just get more awkward. Try imagining them as your favorite dessert instead.
6. Appoint yourself as party photographer
Everyone wants their picture taken! You won’t get bored, you can hop from group to group and you’ll have digital blackmail for future use.
7. Injure yourself to escape the party
As a last resort to liberate yourself from an irredeemable gala, fake an injury. If the crowd isn’t buying it, you might have to injure one of your fellow partiers, and then offer to take them to the doctor. Win points for helpfulness again and make an early exit.
In all seriousness, thoughtful investigation of your personality type is a fascinating and useful practice, as it simultaneously liberates you from the pressure to be someone you’re not, and also reveals inherent weaknesses you can correct before becoming a monster.
Besides, who doesn’t love studying themselves more, right?