Monday, September 21, 2009

A Shy Girl's Guide to Parties

I like parties. I like hanging out with the girls and taking silly pictures and talking about boys and all that good stuff. I don't really drink, but if it's offered I'll partake of something mixed to celebrate the occasion. I don't go out much. I usually spend most evenings with my boyfriend playing video games and the like. I'm not complaining, though, 'cause the boy is my best friend ever, really. It's nice, though, to spend a night away from him and just have girl fun. Of course, it would be nicer if I weren't so darn shy.

I'm not exactly a social butterfly; I don't take to a large group as well as a lot of people. In fact, I get pretty anxious at the thought of entering a big room alone where there might be a lot of people I don't know. I avoid it like the plague. Sometimes, though, you might be the only person you know invited to a party, or the only one you know who can go, and you shouldn't let that stop you. There have been plenty of fun get-togethers over my 20 years that I've avoided because "oh, she'll be there? I don't know her!" and then I get all queasy and uncomfortable and get that sense that I'll be sitting all by myself in a corner nursing my customary one vodka and coke and feeling like the biggest loser in all Dorkington.

I know I can't be the only person out there who gets a bit of pre-party anxiety, so here are a few of my patent pending party survival tips for you fellow shy girls out there.

1. Wear Something You Love

One of the most fun things about going out is getting dressed up. However, if you're a wee bit shy, this might not be the best time to experiment with your style or wear that dress you only feel kinda "eh" about. Wear something that makes you feel like a knockout. It might be a tried-and-true, go-to outfit, or just a new ensemble that happens to fit perfectly. You don't want to be pulling at your hem, adjusting your bra, and uncomfortably checking yourself out in the bathroom mirror all night when you have more important things to think of, like getting up the courage to talk to the cute boy at the punch bowl (do people still use punch bowls at parties?).

2. Find Someone You Know

If you can, when you get to the party, look for people you're comfortable with. It might be host/hostess or someone else. Don't be shy if they're talking to another person: go up and say "hi." Not only will that person now know you're at the party (and thus the party has started-- don't deny it), but you'll feel a little cooler by making it known that you and So-And-So are buddies.

3. Learn How to Make Small Talk
This sound really dorky, but hear me out. Practice some little small-talk-y things you can say if you suddenly find yourself standing face-to-face with someone you've never met-- you know, if you don't find that person you know right away. You don't want them to be smiling at you and you to be smiling at them and get stuck in awkward oh-my-God-when-am-I-allowed-to-walk-away situation when you can avoid it. Think of some basic things to say, and say them to yourself, your neighbor, your dog, your boyfriend, etc. Here are some more specific tips on making small talk.

4. Be Honest with the Host/Hostess
Tell the person hosting the party that you're nervous to go. I know, I know, wicked embarrassing, but, again, hear me out. If you suck it up and just be honest with the host, they will very likely offer to introduce you around. Let them do this. You might feel like a bit of a baby having your metaphorical hand held, but that beats feeling alone and bored. Also, chances are, if you're pretty good friends with the host, they'll know who you should meet, who you'll get along with. This step is a practice in being humility, but don't discount it.

5. Cool it on the Social Lubrication
Personally, I'm not very into the whole drinking thing, but I think not drinking has its merits for anyone in an awkward or foreign situation. First, I would strongly recommend that (especially if you're a non-drinker) you don't drink heavily enough to be drunk at a party where you don't know anyone (especially you college-age kids-- I don't mean to be a mother hen party pooper, but it's seriously dangerous to more than your liver). Have a couple of it suits you, but stay in control. Which leads to another point: if you're shy to begin with, consider how awkward it might feel when you hear later from someone you don't remember that you do an awesome topless Steve Urkel impression. Third, don't deal with shyness by drinking. Don't deal with an social anxiety by drinking. I can't stress this enough, because people do it all the time. If you're not comfortable being social, learn how to cope without substances, or you're not actually helping yourself at all. You might think it makes you more interesting, and socially skilled, and likeable, and fun, but it doesn't. Even if you're shy and awkward, I want you to repeat after me: I don't need alcohol to have a good time. I am more entertaining sober. I find that less and less people my age feel this way, and if I met some of those people that do at a party, I'd be ridiculously excited.

Do you get pre-party jitters? How do you deal with social situations that you're unsure of?


Kelly said...

I love parties but I will admit I get nervous if I'm not going to know anyone there. First, I make sure I wear my octopus necklace. I've gotten a lot of compliments on it and it never fails to start at least one conversation, and frankly I need all the help I can get.

I will admit a drink or two helps me loosen up. I'm not saying it's for everyone, and I'm not saying to get drunk, but one drink helps me calm my nerves. And gives me something to do with my hands.

I've been working on being a lot more friendly and approachable "HI I'm Kelly, I don't think I've met you yet!" and then since I'm pretty bad at making just random small talk conversation, I try to get a small group of people to do something - play cards, ping pong, corn hole (this is, of course, assuming it's a casual party where you can just break off and do your own thing, it's not going to work at a baby shower or formal dinner or something!) - then we're engaged in something and at least for me, conversation flows more naturally.

Anonymous said...

At first take, I thought Rule #3 said "learn to smack talk." I became very intrigued before realizing the error of my ways....still a good read either way ;)

Vanessa said...

Smack talking-- also useful.

I'm probably lying about that.

Jade Graham said...

like most of us, a very strong desire for achieving happiness and peace of mind; shy mastery guide review


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