Misfit Monday: Is it weird to not like parties?

I have a confession to make: I am not overly fond of big parties.

This is especially true if the majority of the people there are people I don’t know; more so if they’re people I don’t have a lot in common with.

Is this weird? It isn’t if you’re an introvert like me (and like most writers). But I didn’t always know that, and so, when I was reluctant to attend a big gathering, or if I wanted to leave soon after arriving, I wondered what was wrong with me.

Nederlands: Introvert gedrag.

I’d much rather do this than go to a big party! (photo credit: Wikipedia Commons, Creative Commons license)

The thing is, if you’re an introvert, spending a lot of time in large groups of people is mentally draining. (For extroverts, it’s the other way around: not being around people is draining.) The more people there who I don’t know, or don’t have much in common with, the more draining it is. I feel like I have to be “on” all the time – upbeat and friendly, even if I’m tired or don’t know what to say.

My husband is 100% my opposite in this way. He’s totally an extrovert, one of those people who never met a stranger. He can strike up a conversation with anyone, and the fact that I’m not thrilled to go to big parties where I don’t know a lot of people is something that baffles him. How could I not enjoy it? (Add to that: I don’t drink much alcohol–not because I have a problem with drinking in general, but it takes very little to make me feel really bad. So being the only sober person in a roomful of people is even less fun.)

I used to think “introverted” was synonymous with “shy.” So when I wanted to cringe at the thought of going out to a bar one more night (because when I was young and single, I didn’t have much else to do), I wondered what was wrong with me. Because the thing is, I’m not shy. Once I get to know someone, and like hanging out with them, I don’t have a hard time talking to them.

Most of the time I went anyway, because I wanted to meet people. A good thing, too, for that’s how I ended up meeting my husband–at a bar, LOL. (Yes, it happens! For the whole story, see How I Met My Husband.) It helped a great deal that I’d recently taken the Dale Carnegie Course, where most of the people were introverts, and we learned ways to strike up conversations with people we didn’t know, ways to take an interest in others.

Of course for many authors who write romance, the national conference of Romance Writers of America is nothing but one party after another. Yes, I’ve gone. A couple years ago, I went with my main goal being to meet people and have fun. And I did! That’s not to say I didn’t need some down time between events, but it wasn’t bad at all. Of course at an RWA event, there are always a question that can break the ice: “What do you write?”

Kristin Bailey/Jess Granger (middle) signs a book for a reader while Stacy McKitrick (right) and I watch.

Kristin Bailey/Jess Granger (middle) signs a book for a reader while Stacy McKitrick (right) and I watch.

Reader events are fun, too, with the main difference being a slight change in the guaranteed question to “What do you like to read?” I attended one of these on Saturday, a panel discussion at a branch of the Dayton Metro Library. I shared the panel with four of my RWA chapter friends, and several people in the audience also were writers. Writing is something I can always talk about! But usually, I prefer one-on-one, or small groups.

What about you – are you an introvert or extrovert, or a little of both? What kind of gatherings do you enjoy most? Have you confused “shy” with “introverted” before? Is it weird to not enjoy parties? Please tell me I’m not alone–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.
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16 Responses to \

  1. Introvert! But shy, too. Double whammy!

    I’m always afraid I’ll say the wrong thing, so I usually keep quiet. However, I surprised myself when I wasn’t nervous on Saturday. Too busy being excited, I guess. Plus, they were all there to hear about writing, something I don’t mind talking about. I guess it just matters what the subject is, huh?

  2. Stacy, I’m totally with you on being afraid you’ll say the wrong thing! I do that online, too – I really have to make an effort to comment and participate in blogs and on forums. You did great Saturday! And yes, I think you’re right – I can always talk about writing!

  3. You are not alone, Jennette! I too, thought being an introvert meant I was shy. I am a reluctant party goer. I can do it, but not having had the benefit of the Dale Carnegie course, I have no idea what to say so I end up sticking close to my buds. πŸ™‚

  4. I would say that I’m a little of both. I really love a good party, especially when I know there are going to be new people there. More possible friends to make! But I also know that the environment makes a difference. A swanky martini bar or a cocktail party? Im all in. Sitting in a both at a tavern where they serve beer? No, thanks. I’d rather stay home and read. And like you I need down time. I don’t think that is about introvert vs. extrovert, I think all people need downtime. It’s just that not everyone takes it. I think all those conferences you went to sound like a lot of fun! The perfect combo of learning and fun. Like college. πŸ™‚

  5. I’m definitely an introvert too. I like being a small circle of friends, but not as much a large party. Like you, I find it draining after a while.

    That said, I’ve learned how to manage those situations. I can have fun at a large gathering, but I have to plan for downtime. I might “go to the bathroom” more often than others just so I can have a few minutes to myself. I latch onto my extroverted friend and let her introduce me everyone. I know my intro questions and move as quickly as possible past small talk and into something I find more interesting. Also, with a conference, I make sure to have some time alone in my room to relax and recharge.

    So no, you’re not alone. But yes, people often wonder why we introverts are “weird” like that.

  6. I’m an introvert – but I’m generally “on” so people tend to assume I’m extroverted. (I have a friend who is the opposite – an extrovert, but quiet)

    I do enjoy small parties – but they do stress me out. I’m completely spent by the end of them.

  7. I am such an introvert! But at parties with friends I know, I love being there. Especially if I can sit in a corner somewhere with one other person and have a nice conversation. And I do take little breaks. My trick? When it starts to “get to me,” I go to the bathroom and pull my book out of my purse and read a few pages. Deep breath. Then I’m ready for more party!

  8. I’m an introvert and shy, but I can sort of fake the shy thing if I have to go to a cocktail party. Then I kind of ask the questions to get the other person talking. πŸ™‚

  9. I’m definitely an introvert. People who meet me at conferences assume I’m not because I pour all my energy into being “on” during that time…but then I go back to my room and crash. I really like talking to people I’m already comfortable with but social situations with large groups of people are draining. I’d much prefer the evening at home with a book πŸ™‚

  10. Lynette, sometimes my DCC training comes in handy, but it was a long time ago! Other times, not so much.

    Emma, RWA conference is great! And I get what you’re saying, the environment does make a difference – I think it comes down to having something in common with others there.

    Julie, those are some great tips for managing the big events – thanks for sharing!

    Amber, you make a good point – introvert/extrovert isn’t necessarily about how quiet or talkative we are. Thanks for your input!

    Michele, that’s exactly how I am! I do like your idea of pulling out a book for a quick read – I always have some on my phone!

    Coleen, fake it ’til you make it, huh? That’s what I do, too – and it does help. Thanks for sharing!

    Marcy, that’s exactly how I am!

  11. Around people I know at a party I’m fine and can be the life and soul.

    However, around people I don’t know I find it draining, both emotionally and physically.

    A bit like the internet. I’m finding it very draining at the moment but this happens when I take on too much. πŸ™‚

  12. I’d never actually given that much thought, but you are right, being shy and being an introvert are not necessarily the same thing.

    I’m not the least bit shy, but I’m not a total extravert either. I present as one. Like your husband, I’ve never met a stranger, or at least they don’t stay strangers for long. But I also need a lot of alone time, which is more an introvert’s trait.

  13. CC, how well I know the people at the party makes a huge difference, as does any other stress I might be under at the time. Thanks for sharing – and take care!

    Kassandra – interesting, although it makes sense that people would fall all over a continuum of intro/extrovert. Maybe you’re right there in the middle!

  14. Jennette, I’m with you. I hate big parties and especially conventions, even though I love to listen to speakers. It’s an energy thing for me — I just feel sapped. So I guess I’m an introvert, but not necessarily shy. All and all, I best love to curl up by myself with a book and a glass of wine πŸ™‚

  15. I am in extroverted introvert, which confuses the heck out of people. Because I love a great party (and never miss a good bonfire! ; ), most folks make the mistake of thinking I’m an extrovert. But parties only last a couple of hours & then I can go be by myself again, which I need to restore my soul & fuel my creativity. If I don’t get enough “alone time” I don’t feel right with the world. So yes, I enjoy big social functionsβ€”but I could only handle one a week or it would get too draining for me. I guess us introverts come in all stripes!

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