Introverts all over the world have been in hibernation since precisely 12:00am last New Year’s Eve, and now people are inviting them to things all over again like last year never even happened.
And it’s not that we don’t appreciate the invite. Goodness, we do.
It’s just that a frankly absurd amount of social commitments are crammed into one month and when are we meant to do that thing where we sit on our bed with a towel on our head for four hours and stare at the ceiling while every now and then picking up our phone and stalking people we’ve never met on Instagram. When?
LISTEN: Mia Freedman, Holly Wainwright and I debate the importance of the work Christmas party on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.
Some people appear to seamlessly float from one event to the other, with their clothes ironed and a strangely authentic smile on their face. But introverts, you see, have some unusual coping mechanisms.
Here are the thoughts every introvert has during the ‘festive’ season (tbh July was our festive season given we just laid in bed for 31 days and watched The Handmaid’s Tale feat. Maltesers).
1. “Please make this person have a pet so I have an excuse to lie on the floor in silence for 45 minutes and not be considered rude… people will think I’m just really into animals.”
Every introvert knows the moment you spot the dog/cat/axolotl, and you breathe a sigh of relief. You have found your person.
Social interaction involves a number of complex rules - and it feels like maybe you were away from school the day they were taught. There's all this 'hello', 'how's your year been?' nonsense, and guidelines like don't ask too many questions and don't inquire about anything rude or invasive or inappropriate, but also don't talk about yourself too much, maintain eye contact but not too intensely, eat with your mouth closed, don't drink too much, be open with your body language but also make sure you don't have a rogue boob hanging out IT'S ALL JUST TOO MUCH.
You know who doesn't care if you have a rogue boob hanging out?
They're never sarcastic or difficult to read. All they want is pats and you definitely know how to do that.
When talking to people gets too much, you can just say, "Excuse me, I have some business to attend to," and get down on all fours and whisper things that don't make sense into the ear of a dog.
That right there is an introvert's fantasy.
2. "Ohhh. I can't go out on Christmas Eve, as I'm seeing people on Christmas Day and that's me done for December."
You know how people say, "Sorry, I can't drink tonight I've got a big day tomorrow"?
Yes, well that's how introverts feel about socialising. We are physically incapable of 'backing up'.
We need to factor in time to sit alone in a room and stare at our own feet.
3. "If I go and sit in the toilet for 10 minutes one more time today are people going to straight up think I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome? And do I actually care enough to... not go to the toilet again?"
The toilet is the introvert's oasis.
We don't need to wee, obviously, we just need to sit alone and maybe scroll through our phone for a bit, but we also know we can't take too long or else people with think we are having bowel issues, which is an introvert's worst nightmare.
Thus, you pretend to drink lots of water and then escape at random intervals as not to raise any suspicion.
4. "Does this event have an end time orrrr..."
Every year, my mum tells me that Christmas day lunch starts at about 12... which means I will get there at about 12:30 because there is no way I'm going to make small talk with the host for half an hour when clearly all they want to do is keep preparing stuff and I'm being an IMPOSITION.
And when she tells me what time it starts, I always ask the same question.
"... But when does it end?"
If there is no end time then the event is just... infinite.
Will we be there until 4? Or 2am? What am I to prepare for? Do I need supplies?
5. Is it rude to just mouth to the host across the room "gotta go" to avoid drawing any attention to myself? HOW IS ONE MEANT TO SAY BYE?
I'm sure we can all agree that saying 'bye' is a bizarre social ritual that we best just do away with.
Why do you have to alert every person individually to the fact you're leaving? Won't it be evidence enough when in five minutes you're simply no longer there? Does leaving a place truly mean you have to embrace 42 people physically upon exit?
You'll look around the room, and mutter to yourself, "Oh... wouldn't want to interrupt," even though no one is in the middle of anything, and then escape out the back window.