Hello, fellow bloggers and followers of The Lonely Tribalist! My name is Jace and I am the “Eternally Awkward” author for Confessions of the Socially Inept. If you find yourself tripping in public or turning bright red at the mere mention of your name, then this is the blog for you! Feel free to visit my site and please follow if you enjoy randomly scattered blog posts, dripping with self-deprecation and weird pop culture references. Thanks for reading and remember, you can’t embarrass yourself if you don’t leave the house.
Your anxiety fueled nightmares have finally become a reality. You’ve been invited to a party. Lucky for you, I’m here to guide you through the rough and treacherous waters of social interaction. If you’re a true introvert like me, you’ll know that I’m not talking about parties that take place at a frat house or an abandoned steel mill. No, I’m talking about casual, intimate gatherings of friends and acquaintances usually held at someone’s house.
To the non-introvert, a party like this seems harmless and, dare I say it, fun; however, we know the truth. These parties are figurative mine fields of social perils, especially if distant friends, frenemies or complete randos are involved. Parties can be tricky if interacting with other people is not necessarily your forté. I was recently invited to a “game night” by a friend and out of the 15 people there, I knew three. I came out a survivor and now it’s my duty to help other introverts out there.
Your friend has asked if you would like to come to a party (game night, movie night, dinner party, etc.) and you agreed on a whim because it was a full moon or something. It’s only until later that you find out the party is being held at a person’s house, whom you’ve never met, and the party will mostly consist of people you kind of know and some you’ve never even met. It’s too late to back out, so you convince yourself that it won’t be that bad, plus you know some people that will be there! Unfortunately, they all responded “maybe” to the invite.
Chances are your friend will suggest you ride to the party together, but it is integral that you make sure this happens. Riding by yourself opens up the risks of arriving before anyone you know shows up or arriving before anyone shows up at all. Lock down that passenger seat before your friend gets other ideas.
It’s important to try to not overthink the things you will say and do at the party. I’m guilty of creating hundreds of scenarios in my mind that will most likely never play out. When you arrive, your friend will hopefully introduce you to everyone and a shake of the hand and simple “hello” or “nice to meet you” will suffice. If your friend lacks the most basic of manners, then you might need to take initiative and introduce yourself. There is a small window of opportunity for this action to take place before it’s too late. If you wait too long, the self-introduction will be forced and out of place. Most likely, you would chicken out and not introduce yourself, thus remaining nameless for the rest of the night. Take initiative, people!!
Hopefully you’ve been introduced, so now comes the time for the basic ice-breaker questions: “Where do/did you go to school? Where are you from? What do you do for a living? Britney or Christina?” That last one probably won’t be asked, but the answer is always Britney FYI.
Take a breath before answering and just keep it short and sweet. There’s no need to share more information than necessary because nobody really cares where you’re from, okay? If, for some reason, you feel the impulse to make small talk after you’ve been thoroughly questioned, resist. There will be time for that later.
Guests continue to arrive, which means the focus is no longer on you. However, this causes your friend’s focus to shift away from you as well, so it’s important to shadow your friend as they make their way around the room. Keep in mind, you don’t want to come across as parasitic. When your friend addresses someone or a group of people, make sure you are a part of the conversation and not just some creep orbiting the group.
If you’re like me, then you probably don’t enjoy talking about yourself. You never know what to say, so you try to fill the void by rambling, thus revealing too much information about yourself. Always keep it short and simple and if you think you have a funny anecdote, you don’t. Trust me, you don’t.
Try your best to “feel the room” and contour your conversation topics to match. Not everyone is going to be impressed with your knowledge of pop culture references and they most likely won’t be positively received in a conversation about the Iowa caucus or nursing. I say nursing because if there are nursing students/nurses there, you know what they’ll be talking about the entire time. Consider yourself a chameleon who uses social and tonal cues to blend into the environment. Again, refrain from recapping an entire episode of Friends.
Hopefully you have survived the first portion of the evening’s events. Now comes the movie/ dinner/ game/ ritual sacrifice or whatever it is you came to do. Ideally, the main event would be a movie so you wouldn’t have to talk, but the world isn’t fair and we can’t always rely on such comforts.
If it’s a dinner party, focus on eating without spilling anything on yourself and speak only when spoken to. You are not here to have fun, you are here to survive! If it’s a game… all I can say is good luck. Chances are it’s something involving charades and you’re guaranteed to embarrass yourself, so just go with it. Embrace it. Internalize the pain.
If your social interaction fuel levels begin to get low, don’t be afraid to signal your friend with the “It’s time to go” eyes. Assuming they’re not a complete idiot, they will pick up on the signal and make the proper excuses for your escape.
Give a general wave of goodbye, say you had a “great time,” thank the host and get out of there! Congratulations, you made it. Go home and reward yourself with some Netflix!
When you lie down to go to sleep that night, you might be tempted to dwell on the evening’s events and think about all of the things you said and did wrong. I recommend giving yourself the best Leslie Knope to Ann Perkins pep talk you can think of and dream about how you’re going to stay home all day tomorrow binge watching The Flash.
[Moose & Michelle: Thanks for guest blogging, Jace! Don’t forget to visit their blog, if you haven’t already. And if you’re interested in submitting a Guest Post yourself, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your idea!]