If you’re anything like me, you dread those big events in life where you suddenly become the center of attention. You know — weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, graduations, etc. All the big moments that most people love to share with their friends and family. But for us introverts, these can be dreaded moments that we cannot wait to end.
We don’t dread these events because we hate our loved ones, or because we don’t appreciate being showered with love. It’s quite simple. These events are overstimulating and overwhelming. They usually include lots of different people of varied personality types grabbing for our attention, wanting to take pictures with us, asking us to come meet so-and-so, and so on.
These events are draining for the average introvert. They sap us dry. I’m usually just fine celebrating with a small crew of my closest peeps, and that’s good enough for me. But when the group gets too large, I start to get overwhelmed and often shut down.
However, if you have loved ones who want to celebrate with you, and a big family to boot, it’s really difficult to convince them not to throw you those big parties. It’s hard to explain to your family why you’d rather elope. Or why you’d rather not have a graduation party. They don’t get it! And some members of the family get really sensitive about it and take things personally.
So, how do we avoid hurting feelings, while at the same time making sure we are comfortable? What are your options? If you’re like most introverts, you’re probably very sensitive to how you make others feel. And disappointing your mom by eloping would just kill you, or declining a baby shower that your friends want to throw for you would confuse and hurt them. Not to mention, you’d miss out on all the great gifts! So, when you give in and say yes to the big event with 50+ guests, how do you survive the madness?
Before we continue, let’s just be honest with ourselves. There is usually some part of us — however small it may be — that wants the dream wedding or shower. So, let’s get creative and find ways to navigate the waters in a way that makes you more comfortable. Here are seven things that have helped me.
How to Survive a Big Life Event as an Introvert
1. Be clear on who you want to invite.
If you’re going to have a bunch of eyes staring at you for hours, pulling you here and there, at least have control over who is in attendance. Choose people you’re closest to or who make you feel comfortable. Or, keep the company small. Talk to the host and help them understand why you want to keep the guest list small. If they are truly throwing the event for you, they will respect your wishes.
When I had my bridal shower, I kept the group very small to ensure that I would have fun. I knew I would not enjoy myself if I forced myself to be around a bunch of people that I wasn’t close with just to please others. After all, isn’t the day about you? Yes, someone will likely get offended for not getting an invite. But you literally cannot invite everyone.
2. Help choose the activities.
I’m sure there are certain activities or games that you dread. Don’t include them in the day. Simple as that. Ask whoever is hosting the party to eliminate certain activities that would overstimulate you.
For example, at my wedding, my husband and I didn’t feel comfortable doing the garter toss. So, we just didn’t! And I’m sure people thought it was strange, but we never heard any complaints. It was our day, and we did what was best for us.
3. Bring a support buddy.
Have someone tag along that you know will bring you comfort the moment you look at them. For me, that’s easy. It’s my husband. I know that if I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, I can turn to him for a boost. He understands my introverted personality and is very sensitive to it, which I appreciate.
4. Have a spokesperson.
Grab a friend, sister, cousin, whoever, and ask them to be your spokesperson when you’re having a difficult time being clear about what you want, or what makes you uncomfortable. My sister is a great example here. She knows me very well and knows what makes me uncomfortable. She helps filter out the people who just won’t listen to me say no. Sometimes she steps in and handles it for me because she knows I need help.
5. Step out of the limelight for a few minutes.
Even though the day is about you, there is no need to stand in the spotlight the entire time. Take a break. Go to the bathroom as much as you want to step away. Go outside. Go mingle with the people you’re closest to so you can recharge. There’s no need to stand in the center of the room when it’s not needed. If anyone wants to speak with you, they can come find you.
6. Don’t stress about tradition.
Simply put, if it makes you anxious, don’t do it. It’s okay to stray away from tradition. Don’t let anyone pressure you into giving a toast, singing karaoke, or whatever it is, if you don’t want to. Tradition is great, but a tradition for tradition’s sake when it makes you uneasy defeats the purpose.
7. Last, remember why you’re there.
As overwhelmed as you might be, at the end of the day, people just want to celebrate with you. Look around the room and remember that everyone is there supporting you because they love you. That’s all. Try to sit in that thought; let it flow over you and accept it.
Introvert, I hope this helps you survive — and hopefully enjoy — your next big life event. What are some things that have helped you? Let me know in the comments.