I am a tried and true introvert (an INTJ, actually, for all you Myers Briggs geeks out there). I’m not great at small talk. And hanging out for hours with large groups of people? Definitely not in my comfort zone. While I love November and December—and the holiday season in general, all that togetherness can become a little overwhelming.
For example, my mom hosts Thanksgiving every year for our family. She has ever since I was a kid. Now that the cousins are all grown with families of our own, the ranks have swelled quite a bit. Last year, thirty-seven people attended. Thirty-seven. And because everyone’s family, that means LOTS of prying questions and repeating yourself over and over. Since the mere thought of a whole day spent answering personal questions is enough to leave this introvert in a cold sweat, I’ve developed some coping mechanisms.
Try to stockpile some solo time in the days leading up to a holiday gathering. An introvert renews their energy with alone time. You’ll handle the intensity much better if you’re coming in with a full tank.
Assign yourself a task.
Find something that requires your dedicated, prolonged attention, and tell the host/ess you’re on it. Stirring gravy, monitoring the rolls so they don’t burn, and putting ice in glasses? All good options here. Your goal is to be able to stay engaged away from the crowd as you ease into the situation, or at least have a ready-made excuse when Aunt Edna starts asking when you’re having another kid (“I’m sorry, I’ve got to go check on the rolls.”). Plus, you’re actually being helpful!
Use naptime to recharge.
Holidays usually mean unfamiliar settings and unpredictable schedules for the little ones. This provides a great excuse to lay down with your toddler or hold the baby in a quiet bedroom while she sleeps.
A living room full of people can start to feel claustrophobic to even the most extroverted person after awhile. Grab some fresh air. Take a short walk. Keep an eye on the kids playing football in the front yard. Even if you’re still making chit chat, being in an open space can help prevent that “trapped” feeling.
Find some space the next day.
You need a chance to recharge your batteries. It might seem counterintuitive, but set your alarm for a little earlier than usual the next day. Give yourself a chance to savor your cup of coffee in a silent house before the hustle and bustle resumes.
Here’s to surviving another holiday season. Solidarity, fellow introvert! (But, you know, from a distance. #PersonalSpace, amiright?)