social overwhelm

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed while socializing that you just wanted to run and hide? A lot of introverts struggle with social overwhelm, especially during this time of year when there is so much going on. Trust me when I say that I am painfully familiar with this common introvert problem. Case in point:

It was Canada Day recently, the biggest day of the year here in Ottawa (the capital of Canada). It is a day when people crowd the streets, beer in hand, as they head off to fireworks and parties.

If you’re from a country that has a similar tradition, you probably know how much introverts can struggle during these celebrations. They combine a lot of the things that make introverts want to withdraw: crowds, loud noises, small talk, marathon socializing.

With back-to-back social events, the day seems never-ending. Many people go from barbecues, to concerts, to pubs, to house parties.

If you’re like me, you start to get irritable when you have more than one social activity in a day. Especially if you have no rest time in between.

Social overwhelm leaves you in a vulnerable state…

  • you are easily annoyed and cranky
  • you feel guilty for being irritable, which makes things worse
  • you start to overthink things and get down on yourself
  • you can no longer be ‘on’ and so you start to zone out
  • you find it impossible to endure one more second of small talk

I experienced all of the above at various points on Canada Day. I had to keep reminding myself of my own advice.

Understand where you shine.

I can’t tell you how much easier my life would have been had I known this in my teens and early twenties. Introverts don’t necessarily shine at drunken house parties and crowded festivals.

Don’t be hard on yourself for feeling out of place in environments that were practically designed to aggravate an introvert. Find places where you blossom.

Give yourself a break.

I mean this both literally and figuratively. Most introverts genuinely want to do the right thing and be a good person. Unfortunately, society told you that the right way is the extrovert’s way. It’s not!

Don’t be so hard on yourself for struggling with social overwhelm. While you’re at it, take a moment to reset and refresh by escaping for a walk or a bathroom break.

On Canada Day, one of the events I went to was my niece’s baptism at a Mormon church. I think most religious innies will relate when I say that church socials are insanely draining for introverts.

I coped by escaping at various points to wander the halls and pretend to read the church bulletin board. Later in the day, when I found myself at a wild house party, I did my best to connect and have fun, but threw in the towel when I realized that everyone was too drunk to have a real conversation. It’s okay to leave early!

By the way, if you want to know how to truly connect with the right people, be sure to download my free Introvert Connection Guide.

What about you?

How do you cope with social overwhelm? Can you relate to my Canada Day experiences? Please do share your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂



Michaela Chung