A Female Introvert’s Guide to Parties, Part Two
Welcome to Part Two of a Female Introvert’s Guide to Parties. In Part One, we covered party preparation and arrival times, and began to touch on trouble-shooting the party. Let’s continue the topic of trouble-shooting!
Step Three: Trouble-shooting the Party (Continued)
Scene 2: “Get me outta here!”
You are talking to a new stranger. It seems to be going well. You have correctly applied the Wikipedia binge technique for fluid and easy conversation, and you haven’t asked any inappropriate personal questions. Now, your conversation partner has just informed you that she is an avid participant of extreme sports. She regales you with tales of sunshine and jumping off of things, and you have run out of interest because the only thing you hate more than sunshine is jumping off of things. (This is just an example for the sake of this post. If you love sunshine and jumping off of things, good for you! Outdoor sports are excellent pastimes for the female introvert! If this example doesn’t work for you, then insert “economics” or “raising bearded dragons” — anything that bores me, er, you.)
The point is, it’s time to politely exit the conversation.
If this is a large party with lots of warm bodies, this is easy to do. Simply excuse yourself for a drink or a bathroom break and never return.
If this is an intimate gathering, you need to be more tactical. You may try changing the subject. There is still a chance to save this conversation. Maybe try to think of that one time your cat jumped off of something. You may be able to steer the conversation towards “funny things our pets did once,” and this is a rich topic of discussion for most people.
If she has never had a pet, or is allergic to animals, this is the point where you bring a third party into your conversation. Scan the room. You need to be sneaky about it because, even though it feels like she is just prattling on, she is still a human being, and she will probably notice if you are visibly bored.
Also, you don’t want to be rude. She is nice. You like her, and in another life, a life where you were sporty and tan and interested in the nuanced difference between base-jumping and attempted suicide, you might have been friends, laughing and jumping off of things together. But this is a different life, a life where you are you and she is she and you want to go talk to someone about Jane Austen right now.
Ok, you have found your mark. It is best if this is someone you know because you can introduce this new person by name. Now, you bring your friend into the conversation like so:
“Hi, Friend, this is Sporty Girl. Sporty Girl, Friend. Sporty Girl was just telling me about her sports things she does.”
Adding a new person to a stale one-on-one conversation is like a tonic. This new dynamic will save the day. If you wait a few moments, you may either politely exit the conversation and run away, or you can decide that this is perfect, and you want to stay and listen to the new conversation.
It might take more work if you don’t know anyone else at the party. If you are standing, you may be able to inch your way over to another person until they have no choice but to listen to your conversation, and that’s when you snatch them (“So, do you like jumping off of things?”). If you are sitting, you can either come up with a reason to stand (getting a drink or snack), or you can flag someone down and say, “Someone! You look sporty! Come talk to Sporty Girl!”
Or you can just get a little bit drunk and wait for it to be over.
Scene 3: “I want the ground to swallow me up”
You have excused yourself from a conversation, and you are visiting the restroom. You wash your hands and decide to freshen up your war paint. You start to apply some new lipstick and practice your I’m-not-a-nervous-wreck smile.
When you try your smile you see — wait, what’s that? What …Oh merciful heavens. It’s spinach. Black, hideous spinach. It’s not even between your teeth. It’s covering your entire front tooth.
Your face is turning red. You are trying to remember when you ate spinach and how many people you have talked to since then.
CALM DOWN. You are going to be ok. I understand that you need a minute.
Ok. Better? Don’t worry, you will be.
First, remove the spinach (obviously). Fix your make-up; fix your hair. You can do this, Champ. You need to get back out there. This is not as big a deal as it is in your head, I promise promise promise.
Depending on your circumstances and personality, you have two options: 1) go start a new conversation with someone different and never speak of this again until you go home and tell your cat, or 2) hold your head up, go back to your conversation partner, and laughingly accuse them of never telling you that you had something between your teeth.
This second option — which I recommend — accomplishes two things.
First, it shows that you can laugh at yourself (even if it is rocking back and forth in a dim room with “all parties and no alone time makes Mandy a dull girl” written over and over in red crayon on the walls).
Second, it shifts some of the blame of the spinach incident to the conversation partner. She will probably be a little embarrassed, and in order to make you (and herself) feel better, she will probably tell you of a time when she did something horrifically embarrassing in public and you can both move on and laugh and laugh.
Step Four: Reconnaissance
You have talked to people. You have embarrassed yourself once or twice. You have had interesting and uninteresting conversation and now you are home.
This is when your introverted-ness kicks into high gear.
You are worn out because parties drain you. You wash your face, remove your contacts, brush your teeth, and the whole time you are obsessively replaying conversations in your head. You are possessed by L’esprit de l’escalier, thinking of all the perfect replies you would have given during your conversations if you only had the power to stop time.
This is a painful part of party-going. It’s excruciating, in fact. You are unsure how people perceived you, and you are unsure if you had a good time, but you become more and more sure that it was awful the longer you perform your recon.
This is a necessary process for you because you are an introvert and this is what you do. There are ways to make it less painful, however.
Play “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. Say “Deal with it!” several times at a slightly louder volume than you feel comfortable. When you wince as you uncover some awful way someone could interpret that one thing you said, just shake it off.
Make notes of the people you might need to apologize to. You can even write it down so you don’t forget. This will make you feel better. It really will. Then release it all, drink a glass of water, and try to sleep. If replaying scenarios in your head is keeping you awake, then I recommend journaling so you can get it out of your head. Don’t let the loops rule over you.
Good girl. You are ready for your next party.
(I hope you enjoyed Part Two of my “Female Introvert’s Guide to Parties.” Don’t forget to read Part One, and if you liked them, please click the little “recommend” heart so that I can reach and help other introverted females.)