An Introvert's Guide to Going Out and How to Recover
Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Steven Spielberg, JK Rowling, Dr. Seuss. All of these brilliant minds have one thing in common. Introversion. Introverts get a bad rap, even the Thesaurus sites words such as egoist, narcissist, loner, brooder and wallflower as synonyms for being introverted. I can't speak for all introverts, but as one I know that being introverted isn't about thinking about myself all the time. It's about needing to connect on a deeper level with people, which can make surface-y social events seem truly daunting.
One thing is certain though, introverts can be wonderfully social! It makes sense that this would be a mystery to most. Our entire culture is built on a reward system for people with "big" personalities. We are taught that seeking constant attention is the only way to get noticed. Well, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: It's not true. You can be magnificently introverted and still get all of yourself out into the world in a way that makes you shine, and doesn't totally drain the life out of you. If you are an introvert, or just want to understand one better, have no fear. I've created a few helpful tips for going out, having fun and recovering quickly.
1. Get comfortable with not knowing what you are getting yourself into. The night/day can, and should be a bit unpredictable. Being comfortable with this fact is an important key to dissolving anxiety about going out. Once you are in an anything goes mindset, anything really does go.
2. Make sure you feel completely comfortable in what you are wearing and how you want to present yourself. We introverts tend to be a bit more introspective, and a bit more analytical i.e. more aware of ourselves than extroverts. Making sure you are totally down with your persona is key. Which, brings me to my next point.
3. Have a Persona. Now, I'm not saying you need to go all Sasha Fierce at your sister's baby shower, but having a bit of a persona takes a lot of natural introverted behavior out of the equation, at least for a few hours. And, don't worry, everybody has one. Choosing your persona is completely personal, but it should be consistent. If you are an intellectual then give your intellect a chance to shine. If you like to dance alone in your room at night then dance the night away. Likewise, if you are into singing get up and do the karaoke song you always practice (alone), and don't look back. As long as you don't overthink your persona, and make sure not to get too far off track, you will be fine. Keep it honest, and outgoing.
4. Find your people. Know that you are not the only introvert in the room. I promise. Look for your people, they will be more shy, more apprehensive and more willing to open up when they are faced with meaningful conversation. They may even be sitting by themselves. Introverts are hoping to be stimulated at any social event, they are not impressed with just standing around and looking pretty. Our introversions are really just a cry for connection. We want to connect, but in a meaningful way. Find out what makes an introvert tick and they will light up the room.
5. Have an exit plan. When the night gets beyond your ability to be outgoing and you are getting to the point of exhaustion, leave. You don't have to prove yourself anymore than you already have. You went, you were comfortable in your skin (or tried to be), you played up your persona, and now it's time to go home and recover. Never feel bad about bowing out. Unlike extroverts, when our energy runs out so does our ability to have a good time. Go home and start the recharge. And besides, we all know what happens at the end of a party.
Recovery. You don't have to launch a week long recovery for a night out. A simple few steps will do the trick. You will be back out the next night if you take some time to recharge.
1. Put everything away. Take all of your clothes off and put them away, or in the laundry. Clean out your night bag and put all of the contents in their place, or in a day bag. Being reminded of an exhausting event the next day can leave an introverted person feeling even more depleted. Waking up to a clean environment is a great antidote for a tiresome night out.
2. Spend 20 minutes doing your favorite introverted activity. Even if you have to go to work the next day, take time before your next big event to read, take a bath, write, or do any activity that recharges you, ALONE. Make sure to spend that 20 minutes just recharging. The results will last a long time, and will give you the mental space to go out again ASAP. Light your candles, shut your door, ignore your roommate (but not your dog) and bounce back to life.
3. Don't analyze your night. Things happen. Most extroverts don't care what happens when they are out and neither should you. I know it's easier said than done, but honestly if you are as cool as I think you are, you probably killed it last night so just move on. Expect more invites and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
4. Plan for your next event, even if it doesn't exist. What will you wear to the next wedding you are invited to, the next girl's trip you go on, the next date, shower, or spontaneous trek to the desert? What kind of conversations would you like to have, who would you like to meet? These fantasies are great for feeling confident when opportunities present themselves. I promise if you do this it will be a let down when opportunities don't come around, and you will find yourself making plans to wear that perfect dress and have that amazing exchange with a stranger. And who knows, you might just end up meeting the next JK Rowling.
Being introverted is a good thing. Introverts find their people and stick to them. They gravitate towards big ideas and know that enjoying being alone is not an idiosyncrasy. There are a lot of people in this world that don't deserve your energy, and you are not obligated to waste it on them. Networking and meeting new people is a necessity of survival, but knowing who you are is the best barometer for navigating any event in life. Be yourself, be your amazing, awesome, introverted self. And don't believe the myths about you. They aren't true, and even if you are the only person that knows it, keep the secret and smile (to yourself).