Coffee Talk: How to Deal with Social Engagements as an Introvert
I’ve talked about this a little bit before on my blog, but I am most definitely an introvert. Most people when they meet me or work with me in certain environments are SHOCKED to hear this, and straight up don’t believe me. That, my friends, is because I’m an introvert living in an extrovert’s world—I’ve trained myself, in other words, to deal with extroverts and be okay in situations that I would otherwise hate to be in.
Part of being an introvert means that I get my energy from myself, vs. extroverts who get their energy from others. This means I love being alone, and find comfort in relaxing by myself. I never really experience FOMO (I don’t think I ever have!) and I much prefer my space.
That means that things like happy hours, networking events, or team bonding experiences stress me out to no end. I’m the type of person who, in a huge room of people, will go up against the wall and get on my phone so it looks like I’m busy so that I don't have to talk to anyone. It’s really all about where I’m most comfortable, and being surrounded by other people is not my strong suit.
Knowing that some of you might also be the same way, I wanted to get out my thoughts on how I deal with being an introvert and get over the hump to participate in some social situations. Forcing myself to attend certain things or push the boundaries on my comfort zone is really good for me, and I’m happy I’ve learned to branch out a bit.
Here are my tips on dealing with being an introvert:
One // Accept It
For the longest time (especially in college, when it felt like everyone was an extrovert) I felt like I was doing something wrong by not wanting to talk to people all the time, or getting uncomfortable in social situations. But you’re not a freak or doing anything wrong by being an introvert—it’s just who you are! Learning to accept that (and embrace it, even) helps you get one step closer to living as an introvert.
Two // Do Your Homework
Now that you’ve established that you’re an introvert and are okay with it, realize that you’re going to have to do some prep work before social engagements so that you feel more comfortable. For me, this means things like understanding who else is going to be there, getting a low down on the location and what the space looks like, and knowing when to arrive. I also usually show up late (unless it’s a start-on-time kind of thing) so that I’m not the first person there and don't have to awkwardly stand around with people I don't know. This type of “homework” makes me feel much more comfortable heading into a situation that I might normally be uncomfortable about.
Three // Grab a Friend
When all else fails—and when you’re allowed to bring a +1—grab a friend! Knowing that my introversion sometimes gives me social anxiety, having a friend with me makes me feel much better because I know I’ll have someone to talk to.
Four // Find Common Ground
When I’m talking to people I don’t know, I poke and prod until I find something we both have in common, and then I stick to that topic for as long as I can. Whether it’s where someone went to college, where they work, where they live… whatever it is, the second you find common ground with someone you immediately feel more comfortable and like you’ve got this.
Five // loosen up
If I'm ever really nervous about a social situation, I'll grab a cocktail to calm me down. Don’t get carried away here! I don’t mean five or six—I mean one. Even half of one (or a few sips!) can calm your nerves. One cocktail can loosen you up a little bit and make you more relaxed about social situations you might be dreading. Plus, a little bit of liquid courage can make even the most tight-lipped introverts crack a joke and ease into things.