–all night long!
I went to a party this weekend. It was my friend Nathalie’s 40th birthday–a truly badass woman. I drove 7 hours to get there (and 7 hours back–in the rain). The guest list was small. Everyone there would be a rockstar. There was only one problem.
I’m an introvert.
I am the gal at any party sitting in the corner reading the bookshelves. I like being alone. I’m quiet, shy, and reserved. How was this to work?
The din was unbelievable; upwards of 50 people gabbed and laughed in happy groups at top volume. Gah! But the space was beautiful; a high end salon converted into a cosy nest of sparkling lights and sparkling drinks. I found a comfy seat, settled in, and checked out the scene. I saw some great clothes and a lot of interesting-looking people.
But I wasn’t talking to anyone. Plus I was exhausted, because 7 hour drive. This was not working for me. Hmm. I thought about leaving, but the drive home was too daunting. And I was so looking forward to this. I loved Nathalie. I was honored to be among the invitees. I wasn’t going to back down. Then I remembered my #1 party rule for introverts.
The #1 Party Rule for Introverts: Wait it out.
The riff-raff will all leave after 2 or 3 hours. The cool people stay. You stay, too. Your real people will be there late.
So, okay, I would stay. I would find a way around this. I looked around more closely, and noticed several people sitting alone, like me, watching the room and/or checking their phones. More introverts. Clearly we were all in the same boat, lost and uncomfortable, yearning to be part of it all. Maybe we introverts can’t do much for ourselves, but we can do things to help other people. A strategy revealed itself…
Party Rule #2: Befriend Other Introverts.
I turned to the nearest phone-studying woman and introduced myself. Hi, I’m Alia. Hi, I’m Nina. And then the magic question of the evening, How do you know Nathalie? I introduced myself and Nina to the gal on my other side, then pulled in the one next to her. Pretty soon our small group were all chatting. Score!
Rule 2 has a postscript: Change Your Location.
Get up, walk around, and hold up the wall in a different corner. There will be other introverts over there, and you can then chat them up, too.
I know, you don’t chat up
people strangers. But the truth is that you do. All the time. When you are comfortable doing it, you don’t notice. Gaining any new skill, however, requires a level of discomfort. It’s scary. Learning is, by nature, going outside of one’s comfort zone. But then you have a new skill, so hey. The first time you do this, maybe even the second or third, it may feel very uncomfortable. But think of being able to enjoy a party and make new friends. Win!
I did one other thing that was important. At this party, the decree had been no physical presents. But stories, poems, and performances were welcome. We had all been asked in advance to present something live or write a love-letter to our birthday girl. There was even a sign-up sheet at the door. I signed up to dance. Which brings me to….
Party Rule #3: Take one risk.
When my name came up, I jumped up, raised my arms in a victory Power Pose, handed off my cued-up phone, and put on my zils and hipscarf. And then I danced, in a small room, with 50 people who were far more badass than you can imagine (the past president of Planned Parenthood, a gal who saved Roe v Wade–twice, the ceo of the fastest-growing woman-owned business in the usa, artists, movers, shakers, one and all–and me).
Yeah, I got up and danced for them. I chose one song, both upbeat and trad (Fatme Serhan’s Tahtil Shebak, if you want to know). I made a point of connecting with individual people. I got Nathalie, her best friend, and her party co-hosts up to dance.
I wasn’t even at my best. I was bloated, tired, and stiff. None of that mattered. I brought the joy. That’s my job as a dancer, and I did it. And for the rest of the evening, people came up to me and complimented me on my performance. And I went up to other people and complimented them on theirs. More friends.
We introverts dread parties, small talk, and meeting people in general. Inundated with extrovert business advice, like give your card to 10 people at every meeting, we’d rather stay home. So we need other ways of going about our business. The above 3 models all work wonders. Because, for introverts, here’s the most important thing of all.
You won’t meet everyone, but you will meet the right people. Most people, frankly, are not worth your time. They are superficial, petty, and insincere. They are exhausting. Why bother with them? Introverts have magical strength and powers. Slide under the radar. Be choosy.
Meet the right people.
Like you ; )
PS Coming this fall: Dark Star: How Introvert Artist