How to socialize: an introvert’s guide

I know. I know. You’re freaking out because you have a friend’s birthday to go to. It’s also that time of year again – the holidays! I understand. Shhhh. I’ve got some ideas and tips.

First, the good news. You don’t have to go out to every event you are invited to. And if you’re anything like me, folks will stop inviting you because you’ll be known for being a homebody. Problem solved!

The bad news is you will have to go out occasionally.

You may scream. I’ll wait.

I think it’s this way, guys! [Phrathat Chedi Si Khruba, outside of Lamphun, 2013]

// the invite

Here’s what I’ve figured out. If it’s a close friend’s birthday, you have to go.

Company parties, it depends. I’ve gone to most of the staff parties, and only one out of three Christmas parties so far. Seems backwards, right? I figured it’s better to make frequent and brief appearances than look like I’m just mooching off of the big event. Frankly, by the time the end of the year rolls around, I can’t be bothered.

Going away parties, yes. When I couldn’t make it because I was sick, I’ve been made to feel horribly bad. People do notice these things as it turns out. Weddings depend also on the closeness, and the cost, so as an expat, I hardly go to weddings. Score!

Okay. So here’s the deciding factor, if you’ve been invited to a function you have to ask yourself: Will I feel massively guilty if I don’t go? If the answer is yes then you know what you have to do.

Don’t panic. [Just another waterfall at Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, 2014]

// when you have to go

This is what I ALWAYS do. I show up, spend some time, then I leave. I’m home well before midnight, and I have time to read in bed. The best.

What I’ve discovered is whinging and whining prior to the event just makes matter’s worse, and often it’s not that bad once you’re out.

Remember, you have to make an appearance. Take some photos, maybe a selfie. Bringing a gift is good, too. It’s the thought that counts.

Some hats we wear are more ill-fitting than others. [Prayao, Thailand, 2013]

// what to do when you’re there

I stick to conversations with a friend or two. I’m not a social butterfly, but those who are will usually find you so you don’t have to exhaust yourself running around. (Unless running around is your thing; sometimes I do that and then I get it out of the way.)

Sometimes I see how long I can sit there without conversation and just watch the crowd. I don’t mind. (Recently, I was at a conference, and there were times I sat alone. Practice makes perfect.)

I mean, these days, people look at their phones anyway. It’s kind of weird actually, watching folks at a social event staring at their little screens.

And if you are really terrified about being in a room full of people, you can do just that – look at your phone. But I try to talk and be friendly, and then I quickly get that out of my system and head home. It’s nice when you have a buddy who also is interested in leaving early. If you’re clever, you leave when a bunch of fresh people arrive.

Welcome! [Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand, 2009]

//how to organize your own event

This is what I’ve learned: people are busy, trying to coordinate a time + place for a group of friends = HUGE pain in the A.

Plus, if your friends don’t or can’t come, you can end up feeling terrified that it’s personal and scare yourself out of doing something social ever again.

So here’s how to handle planning a get together. You decide that you are going to be someplace at a particular time and place. Yes, you decide, everything.

“Hey y’all, Katie and I going to check out the new Star Wars flick this Sat at 9pm. Join us if you can, or catch us before at dinner at 7.30 at Ray’s Italian.”

It helps if you and a friend have planned something already. Then, even if no one can make it, it doesn’t matter; you had plans, you simply extended invitations to others.

This is important because people will try to talk you out of it so that it works around their schedule and sometimes you can, depending on the group, but I recommend keeping it simple, testing waters before putting out the invite, and sticking to your plan so you won’t be disappointed.

I’m so scared! [Penang, Malaysia, 2016]

// the art of conversation

I’m naturally curious about other people. I think that’s because I love stories and consider myself a storyteller. So what I usually do is ask the other person about them. Sometimes I’ve gone entire conversations without the other person learning much about me. I consider this a great success because despite writing memoir, I’m actually not into ME (seen any goofy pictures lately?), but my place in the world, looking behind curtains, and being a nice person, you know?

Also, people act weird when you tell them you’re a writer. It’s okay though. I don’t expect anyone to give a hoot, even though I’m interested in their reactions. I’m also quite bad at selling myself, and I’m still trying to figure out how to explain stuff. Actually, now that I’ve been writing short stories, folks are more keen. Something about memoir REALLY makes people think you’re a nut in a case…

Although since I’m an avid reader, sharing what kind of training bodyguards go through or the latest archaeological discovery can be great icebreakers. (Anyone else thinking of Bridget Jones practicing how to say “Chechnya”?) Sometimes I have a question rolling around in my head about a blog post I’m working on so I can do some surveying in a group, too.

Are you an introvert? How do you socialize?

24 thoughts on “How to socialize: an introvert’s guide

  1. This is a great post! I am very much an introvert but I also like to push my boundaries and also hate being predictable. For both these reasons I will occasionally go to social events. I admit I already use most of your strategies. I never arrange my own social events though, one-to-one coffee meetups with a friend is about my limit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha. I’ve just gone through so much trial and error on that one that my partner finally had to tell me what to do. So, that idea is basically his. It does take the stress off.

      But yeah, you basically described me, too.

      Like

  2. I like to keep things small, as in no more than four. Anything less, better. It can get tiring for me, as much as at times I may enjoy large groups. But if it’s noisey, like loud music, I don’t stay long. I will be out by the hour and that’s pushing it to stay that long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really don’t like places that play loud music (unless I’ve come to see the band play). I feel like the whole point of being out is to be social and music should be in the background. So, yeah, all that shouting to be heard – gets old and annoying.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sage advice. I’m not a total introvert but I’m terrified of entertaining. I’ve learned the hard way not to accept too many invitations because when the time comes I often don’t feel like going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I hate making the commitment, too. And if several things are happening during the same weekend, it’s like my head explodes. I can’t handle it. Which reminds me of what a friend told me once, she only does one social event a month. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hmm, what a question. How do I socialize? I think, and this will just solidify my nerd status forever, that I socialize most with my D&D group. I mean, it’s a group of six to seven friends who meet weekly to hang out for hoooursss. And this year they had a Halloween party that I went to, but it didn’t feel like a big social event because it was basically just my group plus a few other friends.

    Other than that, I hang out one on one with friends once or twice a month, and that’s plenty for me. Although when you mentioned office parties, I remembered my new company does a staff party and I have to decide if I want to go to that…options, options…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting because I feel like I’ve had to figure out why certain people have so much energy for socializing, and I just want to be at home with a good book.

      But life has taught me to not be so extreme, and that sometimes I greatly benefit from going out and getting my socializing done. Sometimes I feel like work is my social outlet, and then I’m done. Please don’t ask anything more.

      D&D!!!!!!!!!!

      Like

  5. I am an introvert however when surrounded by people I know for ages (old classmates or from swimming) I can socialize so very well. Back in University I forced myself, really forced to socialize a lot and it kind of helped me to gain a tiny bit more self confidence. Funny enough I lost all contact to everyone after finishing my degree even though I was always around “friends” there and I was even a tutor for new students!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point. There are friends I’ve known forever and we just pick up and socializing isn’t an effort at all.

      I was just at a three day work conference and so we had to do a lot of mingling, sharing, and talking. And I felt very extroverted but mainly because I knew some of the people, we were forced to be, and I knew this was a limited gig. Hahahhaa.

      Like

  6. Love this! and also the photos. I always find having those one or two people to talk to very helpful, as it helps me gradually join in with everyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, so much! If I went somewhere where I didn’t know anyone, I don’t know if I would show up! I’m sure in my lifetime I have, but nothing particular is coming to mind. Maybe I’ve blocked it out. Hahaha.

      Actually, I have had negative experiences with showing up with just a friend and not knowing anyone, but then we just leave. I think the point is to make your presence known to the hostess.

      Like

  7. It’s funny you blog about this just as I’m reading Quiet by Susan Cain (subtitled The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking). Also, thanks for the tip about getting people together; I’ve adopted it for a dinner with friend(s?) this weekend.

    I’m an ambivert myself. (Unless you count high school, where I tested, I kid you not, “sociopath” according to the freaked out school counselor.) I like being with others, but after 2-3 nights of socializing, I get drained and clam up. I enjoy group stuff but I have to balance them with a lot of alone time to do so.

    I wonder if it’s a nature vs. nurture thing: I was a socially awkward kid then I picked up the art of small talk and listening to people when I graduated college. Either way, I’ve learned to notice if I’m feeling social or not and act accordingly. I find I (and the people I meet) enjoy events more when I show up only when I’m ready to enjoy them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooo, new word, ambivert – had to look it up. I wonder if I’m an ambivert, too, but I do lean heavily towards introvert. I think when I did the Myers-Brigg test (throughout the years), and read my “type” INFJ, it really did fit me well in this regard.

      Anywayyy, I’m glad you like the tip! It’s has saved my sanity many times!

      You bring up an interesting point about how we were when we were children. I suppose there is something about developing socially, right? I mean we should move towards figuring some stuff out…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I always test roughly half and half, though my Myers-Briggs type is E/INFP so we have a lot of common traits. 🙂

        Yes, I think like in other things, our intro/extrovert qualities are probably influenced by what we’ve experienced as we grew up. I don’t think we ever become a totally different personality type but we probably adjust a bit socially after we learn a few things.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I find it very hard to meet and connect with new people and I don’t do well in large gatherings, but with my old friends I am more extroverted.
    These days I am quite the hermit though, I never know when is the right moment to go out with the baby so I stay at home!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would imagine as your child gets older, you’ll do more socializing – I’m thinking strangers who come up and ask about the baby. Hahahaha. Or play dates? Will you be one of those moms? 😛

      It’s funny I used to think I was normal until I met people who loved to go out ALL the time, and be super busy. Then I realized, no, I’m definitely not one of them!

      Like

  9. Lots of good advice there, Lani. I really do like talking to people, asking them questions and getting to know them. Some people are definitely easier than others.

    But since I’m content staying home a lot, I’m not very good about arranging parties and outings. When my husband was alive, he was the one who decided we needed to have a party and invited the guests.Without him, I don’t organize as many things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, you do seem rather busy and social still! At least that’s the impression I get on your blog. It’s important to have a social life, but also alone time, too. Sounds like you have the perfect blend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m not an introvert so much as terrified of rejection. Your section on how to organize your own event literally made me shiver with fear. I once planned a birthday party for myself and forced myself to invite everyone. Like, everyone I knew. And all the ones that I actually had emotions about their presence, they all showed up. So it should have soothed my fears, but that was like 9 years ago and I’ve never repeated it. To be fair, I’m older now and my social life is a totally foreign terrain to that one of yore…. but I still don’t invite anyone to anything. And I turn down invites a few times a month because I just can’t be bothered. (Like if I haven’t showered and you try to get me to turn up… lol.) Which is so hypocritical it’s insane, haha. I’m the worst.

    Like

  11. I’m not a pub or bar scene person….I don’t mind loud places but hate the posturing that goes on with some folks. Of course, there are the business networkers seem to have some sort of formula of greeting people.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve hung out with a bunch of women for a chick night. Meaning years. And it can’t be people from work. Am best with 1-2 people for socializing.

    Like

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