Ok so the holidays are upon us now. If you’re the type of introvert I am, you DIDN’T plan accordingly last year and likely ended up in various homes, dinners, and outings showcasing your wonderful social awkwardness. Well, not this year. The pandemic will probably keep many of us home this year anyway, but just in case that won’t be the case for you, here are a few tips to help you get through those awkward holidays with your relatives and be better prepared for the next one.
Invent other plans.
The best way to survive a gathering that you don’t want to go to is to not go at all. “My dog has to go to the vet.” (You don’t have a dog. Who cares? They don’t know that). “I have to pick up my dry cleaning.” (They’re closed, but who’s going to challenge you?). If you send it in a text, turn off your phone until after the event so you don’t have to respond. Then when you turn it back on say, “Sorry just getting your text…”
This is the classic one. This is easiest to try around Christmas. Christmas is coming right off the heels of fall and into winter. People catch the flu and get all kinds of other sicknesses. Don’t fake a regular cold. No one will believe it. Say you have something really obscure and really contagious. Put on a good hack and call your mother to let her know you can’t make it. Not good at being on the phone (and chances are you’re not)? Stick a piece of tissue in your nose, put a wet towel on your forehead, and snap a photo of you in bed. Send it along with a text: “Omg, can’t believe how sick I got. It’s chicken pox. Happened overnight. Sucks I can’t make it today. You all have fun! Someone send my gifts. Thx.”
Volunteer to go to the store.
Ok, you decided to go to this family gathering or maybe it’s too late to back out. As soon as you get there, go to your grandmother, or whoever the main cook is, and volunteer to go to the store. So what if they already have six cans of cranberry sauce? Volunteer to buy another one. And pretend not to hear them when they tell you that they don’t need you to make the store run. In fact, that makes it better because they won’t miss the food they don’t need when you don’t return.
Initiate a long prayer.
If you come from a religious family, find the most religious family member (preferably an older one) and ask them to be the one to do the honors of saying the prayer before the meal. They’ll be thrilled! From personal experience, many overly devout individuals will not resist a time to let their grandiosity shine. This works especially well on Thanksgiving, as they will likely want to spout all the things they’re thankful for and all the things those who are less righteous than them should be thankful for as well. Once everyone’s eyes are closed, this is your perfect opportunity to leave. Just make sure you’re already standing by the door before the prayer starts. If your relative is particularly long-winded in their conversations with God, you may even be able to sneak some food with you on your way out the door.
Fake a reaction to food.
Once the meal is served, get a huge helping of macaroni and cheese or any other dairy-full food. Wait ten minutes. Then begin to dramatically hold your stomach (without making a scene). Explain that you didn’t know there was so much dairy in the dish and that you have an intolerance for anything dairy. If you’re an on again/off again vegan (this exercise would not work for full vegans), this would be a great time to share your speech about the dangers of cow’s milk. Afterwards, grab your phone and head to the bathroom for some social media scrolling to pass the time. Now you have at least 30 minutes to yourself.
Utilize those bathroom breaks!
Any introvert knows that for every 2–3 hours of an event, you’re granted one bathroom break without it being suspicious. If your family event is particularly unbearable, utilize the bathroom on the main floor and sneak out the window. When you’re long gone and people ask where you went, say you slipped out when your uncle was telling some random story that he tells every year.
And there you have it! (Pro tip: These can be used for any gathering, not just for the holidays).