To go to the party or not to go to the party? That is the question. Because let’s be honest, social events as an introvert can be a struggle.

Sure, sometimes they can be fun, especially if you know a lot of people there. But when there’s a lot of meaningless small talk, loud noises and gossip, most introverts want to leave running and screaming. 

What it’s like going to social events as an introvert 

Before I make my way to any social event, I spend at least a solid hour going back and forth on whether or not I should actually go. And I usually pray to the gods above that something big happens – anything from a snowstorm to the host having a migraine – and the party just gets cancelled altogether. 

If and when I somehow do show up, I immediately go into full panic mode. With all the people there, my introversion and social anxiety start kicking into overdrive and I usually make a direct bee line for the bathroom or the snack table. 

Once I start socializing, I’m usually okay. But still, sometimes I’ll say the wrong thing or there will be an awkward pause so long I’ll want a hole to form in the ground and swallow me whole. By the end of the night, I’m so maxed out from socializing I’ll just want to go home and go to bed.  

Can you relate? The harsh truth is, it’s hard to attend social events as an introvert. We want to make friends. But whether it’s a birthday party or a big get together, social functions are draining. But, we often have to go to these events if we want to make these friends. So yeah, it’s a really fun situation.

So what can you do about it? If you struggle with this as an introvert, here are a few survival tips to help you get through any party or social event.

social events as an introvert: two people talking at a birthday party

Tips for surviving social events as an introvert:

1) Open with a compliment

If you’re meeting somebody new and there’s an awkward pause where neither of you says anything, start with a compliment. It might seem weird at first, but just telling someone you like their shoes or jacket can quickly get them to warm up and open up to you. 

2) Prep some convo starters

As introverts, we often prefer deep conversations over the superficial small talk. In my experience though, asking deep questions like “what do you think happens after we die” isn’t exactly ideal party chit chat and usually doesn’t go over well. So if you’re not sure what to ask, come up with a few conversation starters beforehand like: 

  • How do you know the host? 
  • Are you having a good time?
  • How was your week? / weekend?
  • What do you do for work? / what are you studying? 
  • What do you like to do for fun? 
  • Have you seen any good shows or movies lately? 

3) Take a break

While extroverts may be able to go all night chatting with people, it’s okay if you need to take breaks here and there. Going to the bathroom, grabbing a drink or even relaxing in a quieter room for a few minutes are all perfectly fine ways to get away from the chaos for a bit. 

4) Find the pets and the kids 

Is it a family dinner party with a bunch of kids running around? Or does the party host have a cat? Perfect! Pets and kids aren’t just cute, they act as great social buffers too. Playing with a pet or colouring with some kids is a fun and socially acceptable way to get away from the adult conversations for a while. 

5) Drink up

Only if you’re comfortable with it, drinking can work wonders at a party or a big social function. You don’t have to go crazy with it, just a drink or two can help you be more social, settle the nerves and help you get out of your own head. 

6) Help out the team

If you notice that the host needs a hand, help them out. You can volunteer to take out the garbage, do dishes, or get more drinks. Do the host a solid and get an excuse to get out of talking to people? Sounds like a win-win. 

7) Find the stragglers

Little groups at parties are stressful. They’re like cliques with their own inside jokes and it often feels impossible to join them. Rather than trying to get into those groups, look for and strike up a conversation with the one or two people off to the side.

8) Leave early

Who ever wrote “Party ‘Til the Sun Comes Up” clearly never met an introvert. The truth is, there’s no hard and fast rule that says you have to stay at the party all night. It’s okay to go home early. 

A thing I’ll often do is If I’m not having fun at a social event, I’ll set a timer on my watch for thirty minutes to an hour and if things haven’t gotten better by the time the timer goes off, I’ll tell myself: “Well, we can’t say I didn’t try. Time to go home.” 

9) Recharge and reward

Social functions can drain your social battery. So once you go home, make sure you get plenty of rest and recharging time. Also, rewarding yourself post-socializing (i.e. a chocolate bar, a podcast episode) can make your time at the party more enjoyable as you know you have something to look forward to when you get home. 

10) It’s okay to say no

Sometimes the best survival strategy is not to go. While somedays it’s good to push yourself to go out to social events and meet new people, other days it’s okay to just stay home and relax. It’s a balance and you have to do what works for you. 

11) Practice, practice, practice 

The truth is, going to social functions as an introvert is a lot of work. But the secret is, the more you do it, the better (and less exhausting) it gets. So even if it feels hard right now, keep pushing yourself to go to parties and social events because it will get easier over time.

social events as an introvert: group of people clinking glasses

Final thoughts on social events as an introvert

Whether it’s a kegger or a formal dinner party, social events as an introvert can be a struggle. But with these 11 tips, the next time you get invited to a something, you will not only be able to survive but actually have a good time.