When you’ve just come out of exams and you’re trying to relax, going to a party is a great way of letting down your hair. And it can sound tempting- until you realise you’re an introvert and that many hours in a closed space with a huge number of people will be a terrifying experience.
Here’s what trying to party as an introvert feels like:
#1 There is immense pressure to enjoy yourself.
This is a horrible feeling that consists of an increasing awareness that you are not comfortable with the situation. So you try to force yourself to like it. The anticipation of this feeling is even worse: you can never really let your guard down. It’s like there’s this voice in your head going, hey, look! That person over there is having so much fun! WHY ARE YOU NOT HAVING FUN?!! HAVE FUN!!!!!!
#2 Since you avoid talking to people, and the whole point of a party is to talk to people, you feel horribly out of place.
Most introverts find it difficult to make themselves heard in noisy group situations. It’s not that we’re afraid, it’s just that we’re uncomfortable in large groups of people, all of whom we may not know. Not being part of the conversation makes us feel left out, while trying to take part seems impossible. Then it gets hard to control the anxiety and become okay.
#3 Your anxiety begins to get out of hand.
Since you can’t express your anxiety, you internalise it. And then sh*t gets messed up. There’s an internal dialogue going on like, it’s only people. Friends. Why am I sweating like crazy? Why is my mouth drying up? Why can’t I talk? Why is my heart pounding? What is happening? Why can’t I breathe?
And then you have to either completely withdraw to yourself or step outside for air, which of course brings the next fear:
#4 You worry about people thinking you’re a weirdo.
Our often overactive imaginations create worst case scenarios.We imagine everyone has noticed our actions and wondering about them. We worry that they’re thinking: that girl just stepped outside. Why did she go away from people? Why has she not been talking? God, she’s such an uninteresting person. There is nothing useful for her to say.
Many of us swing wildly between thinking everyone’s paying attention to us, staring because we’re weird, and thinking everyone is ignoring us and avoiding us like the plague for the exact same reason. Go figure.
#5 You try to convince yourself that none of your fears are real.
Rationally, you know what’s going on. You know that this is your mind playing tricks on you. Most people aren’t mean enough to think or do what you’re imagining. Most people don’t even care. Most people are probably too busy having fun to pay any attention. And most will welcome you, or at least not be unwelcoming enough to be rude. But convincing oneself is easier said than done.
#6 You’re scared you’re making the wrong memories.
Certain versions of how a phase of life should be are often sold to us by culture and convention. Old age is supposed to be quiet and non-exuberant. Middle-age is supposed to be secure and stable. Youth is supposed to be wild and free. Then we begin to think, why am I not enjoying this? When I look back, this won’t be a happy memory! It’ll filled with stress instead. This is what people are supposed to enjoy, right?
#7 You feel frustrated with yourself.
And then the self-loathing begins. Why can’t I just enjoy myself? Why can’t I just be like other people? Why can’t I just let go?
You just have to remind yourself that this isn’t your natural territory.
Most of us introverts tend to forget a major issue: whenever we’re going out and engaging in increased interaction with other people, we’re immediately moving out of our comfort zone. Yet, we berate ourselves for feeling uncomfortable or exhausted. Of course you don’t want to talk any more after some time: your optimum tolerance level has been stretched to its limit and now you just want some rest.
Whenever you feel this way, know that you have put yourself out there, in spite of knowing that it could be scary. You’ve tried to push past your boundaries and expand your safe space. And go you! That’s always a good thing, even if it is terrifying. If you don’t push, you’ll never know how far you can stretch.
And maybe you decide you don’t like it. You realise you prefer a homey evening with books and a beverage. That’s absolutely fine: it only means you enjoy yourself in other circumstances. Or maybe you decide you do, and discover some new friends and have a great time in the process. That’s amazing too. Either way, you get to know yourself better, right? It’s win-win.
Your friends are there for you.
If you feel too overwhelmed, talk to a friend. Isolating yourself will only increase the anxiety. Your friends will help you and take care of you. Taking a walk with a friend does wonders for my panic attacks. Remind yourself that it’s all good: it’s only people.
You have to be there for you.
It’s important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with you. We’re all individuals and everyone has different sets of preferences. There is no them v/s me, a way of thinking because of which you can feel surrounded yet ignored by the people around you. Isolating yourself into an inferior group, thinking that you’re all alone, is the kind of idea that leads to low self-esteem, because you tend to love yourself a little less. And you deserve more than that.
Being an introvert in an adult world can be a lonely and scary experience.
Extrovertion is the norm in our culture. [It’s not the fault of the so-called ‘Selfie Generation’ by the way, it’s always been this way]. If you think about it, that’s quite natural. Many aspects of life involve human relationships, so the more of those you can create, the more you can prosper. Unfortunately, we introverts tend not to do so great with those. Our relationships tend to be quieter and less numerous. Though we create fewer bonds, we are happy with them and how deep they are. The compulsion to create more and the fear that one will be left behind for not creating more, are the problems.
The trophy version of life is just one amongst unlimited possibilities. One-size-fits all doesn’t work here, because we are all individuals. Everyone enjoys different things in different ways. Ultimately, you’ll remember what you truly enjoy and not what you were trying to force yourself to.
This is not to create some sort of a binary between what is good and what is not.
Extroverts are amazing and so are introverts, each in their own way. I’m not trying to assert which is better. I’m only pointing out the inner truth of being an introvert and how living as one can be hard sometimes.
Whether as an extrovert or introvert, you will find people who will love you and cherish you and who you will love and cherish in turn.
Happiness will be found, both in companionship and otherwise. Life will be good.
But this can only happen when one accepts their own self, just like I’m trying to do. That’s when things start becoming manageable. You’ll see.
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