Saga of the Socially Awkward

Parties for the Socially Disinclined

3 May 2018

I’m sure a lot of you are looking forward to the weekend when you can go to a party and let loose, but for some of us, the idea of being surrounded by sweaty, drunk people in a room with poor lighting and too-loud music isn’t exactly the epitome of fun.

However, parties are a good way to connect with people and can actually be a lot of fun (sounds suspicious, I know). So here I offer a guide to parties for those of you who hate parties.

Pre-Party Jitters

I and many of my socially anxious friends all agree that the worst part of going to an event usually occurs before it even begins. Your brain strikes in the quiet of night and decides to take you on a mental bull ride.  It does everything it can to buck you off whilst you desperately hang on and contemplate the choices that have led to this moment.

Personally, my brain likes to barrage me with thoughts like,“How many people am I actually going to know?” and, “I won’t have anyone to talk to!” or a personal favorite of mine, “This is terrible. I regret everything”. I have genuinely considered coming up with a fake accent and name so that no one will know who I am when I leave. (Sadly, this plan was never put into action. Apparently it’s “ridiculous” and “dramatic”—I still think it is perfectly reasonable).  

However, normally when you go to a party it’s because someone has invited you, which means that person wants you there. No, they did not invite you as a joke, they actually want your company (as hard as that is to believe). If the host is the only person you know, bring a plus one who will stick with you. And if the host has said no to plus ones, ask them whether they would be okay with you bringing someone. Be honest and tell them you are feeling anxious about coming alone; you would be surprised at how often people understand this and make an exception.

If you are still feeling anxious a few hours before the party, there is no shame in bowing out. You can always try again next time. Trust me when I say that most people will understand if you give in to the allure of staying home (PJs, chocolate and trashy movies, what’s not to love?). So don’t pressure yourself and end up going with the wrong mindset, you should only be there if you want to be there.

Awkward Introductions

Now moving on to the actual party (oh, no). After putting more effort into your appearance than you ever do in class, you make your way to your doom the party. You go to greet the host (the one person you know) and everything is fine for a while. Then they introduce you to their friends (MAYDAY) which is really nice of them but also incredibly intimidating (you thought you were prepared, but apparently not). You then proceed to have a stilted conversation that reads more like a job interview than a few university students at a party (“What are you studying?”, “Science, majoring in psych”, “Oh, that’s uh, cool…”, “Thanks…”).

My advice here is to make the effort. Find a common thread and have a good conversation, people are often receptive to genuine effort. Also, don’t be afraid to show your sense of humor (even if it is rather sarcastic and dry like mine) and laugh at yourself. You will make both yourself and the people you are talking to more comfortable and less self-conscious.

Death by Disco

Now comes one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the night: dancing. The idea of breaking out your terrible dance moves surrounded by a crowd of bodies makes the claustrophobic in you want to scream. Somehow the entire crowd is dancing to a beat you just can’t find and it feels like everyone is staring at the awkward kid in the middle of the dance floor (I know people say you dance better with a few drinks in you but that is a lie. If you’ve got no rhythm, you’ve got no rhythm).

I advise you to begin your expedition by staying outside the crowd and getting used to the dance floor. Bring your friends or even people you have just met and dance with them. It’s so much easier to laugh at your ridiculous moves when you are surrounded by friendly faces. Not to mention, terrible dancing is a great icebreaker and can help you form friendships. But hey, if you really aren’t into dancing you can use my move: standing by the buffet table and pretending to be really hungry.

The Aftermath

After all this partying, you will probably experience what I like to call a “social hangover” (this, coupled with a real hangover, is literal hell). This is the complete lack of energy that occurs the day after an event.  Partying is hard work. Personally I advise you to stay in bed, carb-load and keep any social interaction to a minimum. Sounds like a perfect day to me!

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