The other day, I had a disturbing epiphany: I don’t look forward to Christmas anymore. I know how this must sound to you. You are probably imagining me as some grimacing green creature hunched in front of my computer, cursing all things splendid and good. But the truth is, I’m not a Grinch or a Scrooge or any other kind of malice-filled Christmas hater. I’m more like Grumpy Cat at Christmas time – cranky … but still adorable?
Anyway, I didn’t always feel this way about the holidays. In fact, I can remember a time when I swooned over every overplayed Christmas song, while drenching my home in boxes of festive, red and gold decorations. The holiday season used to make me feel giddy and nostalgic. Now, it makes me feel anxious and guilty.
As an introvert, I’m pretty susceptible to feelings of guilt. We’re told that it’s naughty (not nice) to want to be alone when everyone else is gathered together in a giant mob of cheerfulness. We feel obligated to join in all the Christmas ‘fun’ long after our energy reserves have dried up. Like most people, we battle our way through lineups and crazed Christmas fanatics to get presents that we worry no one will like. If we don’t spend hours making cards for loved ones in faraway places, we spend weeks thinking about how we should have done so. Then we look at our scantily ornamented tree and feel disappointed that it doesn’t even remotely resemble the ones in the Sears catalogue. (P.S. If your tree does look like the ones in department store catalogues, I don’t think we can be friends – no offense, I just think we have different priorities.)
Indeed, there are countless ways that we can feel like we are coming up short during the holidays. And that is before we even set foot near the eggnog bowl at the office Christmas party.
Instead of being a source of enjoyment, Christmas parties tend to become dreaded obligations for introverts. Really long, carbohydrate-saturated, small talk-laden obligations. It’s not that we never have fun at parties. It’s just that, for an introvert, parties usually go one of two ways:
We arrive at the party feeling pretty good. We see people we know or want to get to know, and easily slip into an engaging conversation with one or two individuals at a time. There is minimal awkwardness. We leave the party still feeling pretty good.
We arrive at the party feeling pretty good. But we see only acquaintances and unfamiliar faces. Everyone is gathered together in an intimidating mob at the center of the room making small talk. We awkwardly take our place at the edge of the mob. The conversation doesn’t interest us, so we let our mind wonder. When the conversation shifts to something we can relate to, we think of something brilliant to say. We patiently wait for our turn to speak. We open our mouths and stutter out a few words, but get interrupted by someone louder and more drunk. Now the conversation has moved on to a new subject. We give up. Time crawls at a snail’s pace. We want to go home, but feel like it would be rude to leave after only ten minutes. We beat ourselves up for not being more smooth and sociable. We leave the party feeling pretty crappy.
The thing is, we usually don’t know which scenario will play out before we go to a party. Whereas if we stay home and read or make turtle memes, we know we’ll have an enjoyable, small talk free night. Well, at least we would if we didn’t feel so freaking guilty about not going to the party.
Perhaps these scenarios sound familiar to some of you. Perhaps they are the story of your life. If so, don’t feel bad about it. There are a million reasons to feel guilty during the holidays, but being an introvert shouldn’t be one of them.
Have a (Somewhat) Merry Grumpy Cat Christmas ~ From Introvert Spring <3