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10 Things Introverts Can Do to Survive When Surrounded by Strangers

10 Things Introverts Can Do to Survive When Surrounded by Strangers

“Introvert” is the new buzz word. Everywhere you turn these days someone is touting the benefits of being an introvert. Think you are one? Perhaps. Many of us are and it can be difficult to deal in an in-your-face world of networking and self-promotion.

How do you know if you’re an introvert? A few signs could be that you don’t enjoy small talk; you’re exhausted after group activities; networking makes you feel like a poser; you feel alone even when you’re with people; you enjoy downtime and need it to recharge.

There are other signs too, like not wanting to answer the phone, preferring instead to text or email, preferring to give a talk in front of 100 people and dreading the small talk mingling after.

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Most likely, if you’re an introvert, you know it. But how do you survive those times when you just can’t avoid being surrounded by strangers? Here are 10 ways to get through those stressful times.

1. You must take breaks.

The singlemost important thing you can do to help yourself deal with a large group of strangers or people you are not yet comfortable with is to take breaks. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, run out to the car to “get something,” or get a breath of fresh air. It’s important to take five or ten minutes and give yourself a chance to compose yourself, gather your thoughts or psych yourself up for the next round of small talk.

2. You need to learn the tricks of small talk.

If you know a little about the people who will be at an event you’re attending, then do your best to make a mental note of a few likes and dislikes. If you’re at a car collector’s meeting, it’s likely you can start off a conversation with almost anyone by saying, “What kind of cars do you collect?” Or keep a list of potential topics close at hand (in your head). If you don’t know anything at all, eavesdrop a bit. Listen to what others are talking about and chime into the conversation. At least participating in the conversation will get the event over faster than if you just sit in the corner.

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3. You should take on a job.

The best way to deal with large groups, particularly strangers, is to take on a job at the event. Cook something. Move the chairs and tables. Pick up the trash. Get a camera and make yourself the official photographer. Be the bartender. Having something useful to do is the best way to participate without having to generate small talk or approach people unnecessarily.

4. You must expect change.

The last thing an introvert wants to hear is that more people are coming, the venue has moved or the date has changed. Expect things to change and be flexible. If you anticipate that something will go “wrong,” it will make you better able to deal with it when it happens.

5. You must recognize the shutdown.

It happens to introverts all the time. You’ve been at an event for a while and you really start to crave crawling behind the couch and disappearing. This is the shutdown. When it starts to happen, take a deep breath and remove yourself from the situation.

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6. You should drink coffee.

Yup. I said it. Actually, Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking said it. “Coffee will deliver you from self-doubt. It gets you excited about new ideas and helps you ignore the chorus of judgers inside your head. It propels your thinking and helps you make connections between seemingly unrelated things. Hence, the saying that ‘a mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.'”

7. You should go to evening events.

Cortisol is a stress hormone that peaks during the morning. Attending events in the evening keeps your nervousness down just as your stress levels are reaching their lowest levels of the day. Decreased cortisol can help you cope with stressful situations better.

8. You should bring an extrovert.

Know a friend who is extroverted? Probably. Most introverts tend to find extroverted friends. In fact, if you’re headed to a large gathering, it’s likely at the behest of an extrovert in your life. Bring this extrovert with you and they can introduce you to people, get chatty and help you stay away from the buffet table alone.

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9. You must stand confidently.

Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist suggests taking on high power poses such as standing tall with your legs spread and your hands on your hips. This stimulates testosterone and cortisol and can help you feel more confident in a room full of strangers.

10. You should team up with another introvert.

Is there someone else lurking along the edges of the conversation? Find this person, make eye contact and start a conversation. Perhaps you can introduce each other to other people in the room and get each other going on a night of extroversion.

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Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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