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.
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?”
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!