December 9, 2013

An Introvert’s Guide to the Holidays. ~ Sara Raffensperger

Every family is absolutely insane. When you get a group of people together who share the same DNA, all hell is going to break loose.

Sometimes that hell can be a lot of fun, and other times, you just want to run away and deny all relation to those crazies.

Holidays are yearly reminders that you will one day become insane, too.

As a 21 year old, I’m looking forward to being like my family. They’re all delightfully nuts and they know it.

Though, sometimes, I just want to be alone. For Thanksgiving the last couple of years, we have spent the day at my aunt’s house. There are a lot of people, music and delicious smells. I’m an introvert, so too much stimulation drains me and not even pumpkin pie can draw me out.

Well…maybe the pie can.

Last year, I found myself wanting to hide so I could recharge. I went up to the loft for 45 minutes with my computer and blocked out my laughing and singing family.

This year, I was surprisingly comfortable with spending 12 hours in the company of other people. Maybe I’m growing, but I think it was because the group was a little smaller and I was just more comfortable.

My extroverted family may not understand that I don’t become energized by being around them.  In crowds, introverts actually drain energy, while extroverts lap it up. Introverts are like self-charging batteries: we need to be alone in order to restore our energy. It’s not that we don’t love you, but we will be able to show it better when we feel better.

If you still aren’t sure whether or not your beloved introvert is happy or secretly plotting your death, here is a great video to help you understand:

Here are my tips for introverts trying to survive the holidays:

1. Leave the room if you need to. Don’t sit and be miserable. You will just become grouchy and no one wants that.

2. Bring something to do with your hands while other people are sitting around and talking. I found crocheting to be a great way for me to be quasi-alone. It somehow worked that I could sit with my family and listen to their conversation, but I wasn’t required to participate. I was still with them, but I could focus on something else. And hey—I made a lot of progress on a scarf. (And if you’re really shy and aren’t sure how to strike up a conversation, if you’re making something, people will start the conversation for you by asking about it.)

3. If your family gives you grief for not spending all of your time with them, try to explain that you are an introvert. You love them, of course, but you just need to be alone sometimes. If they still don’t understand, show them the video above.

4. Remember that your family loves you. It may feel close to torture sometimes to be around people when your batteries are depleted and you can feel the grumpiness rising, but take a deep breath. These people care about you and just want to show their love.

5. Whatever you do, don’t go shopping for gifts last minute. That’s when people are frantic and will do anything to find a gift. The stores are absolutely packed with desperate people and they’re even more draining than your extroverted family. Shopping online is a lot easier, (I think) and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home. While you’re scrolling, you’re actually having alone time, thus, recharging.

6. Go to the store if someone forgot an important ingredient (it’s bound to happen).  The store might be crowded, but that alone time in the car will be delicious. You can blast your favorite music and even drive around the block a couple more times just to savor your privacy.

7. Volunteer to do the dishes. An old friend’s family is made mostly of extroverts. After dinner, everyone moves into the living room to continue the fun. Slowly, the introverted in-laws move back into the kitchen and start the dishes. It’s their chance to recharge and spend time in a smaller group where they are more comfortable.

8. Go for a walk by yourself or with one or two people. You’ll get the small group experience you need or the precious alone time you lack. Introversion is hereditary so you probably aren’t alone. Form a ragtag group of introverts and hang out.

9. If you really don’t want to go to a holiday party, don’t go. If you’re pressured into going, get some rest before and don’t schedule a lot a few days before.

Dearest introverts, I wish you luck this holiday season. Extroverts may sometimes think we’re aliens, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with us.

No matter what, don’t forget that your family loves you and wants you to be happy.

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Assistant Editor: Guenevere Neufeld/Editor: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: Flickr}


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